EA and Maxis changed my gaming habits with the release of the latest SimCity. I've stopped playing Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World and am now splitting my time between Eve Online and Tropico 4. Tropico 4? That's right. My appetite was whetted for a city simulator but with all the issues going on with SimCity (I'm talking about the ones beyond server capacity and always-online DRM) I started looking around for an alternative.
I bought Tropico 4 on a 75% off Steam sale and have had a blast playing a Caribbean dictator. So far I am playing through the campaign game, which is really helping me understand all of the things I can do in the game. I look at the campaign game as what the Eve New Player Experience aspires to be. I'm going through, seeing all the play styles (tourism, industrial, etc) and at the end of the 20 scenarios I'll stop having the game hold my hand and enter the sandbox to see what I can build from scratch.
After playing through the tutorial and first four scenarios I can say a few things about the game. Just remember this is not a review as I've only spent 10-12 hours playing so far. The first is that I love the music. It is very catchy and sets an upbeat mood. Maybe that's why I'm playing so much. Next the game is pretty, although I don't really pay attention too much as I'm still learning how to play. The same with following the individual residents of Tropico around. One of these days I'll slow down and start following the Tropicans around. From what I've heard of SimCity Tropico 4 does a much better job with pathing issues and citizen movement than the newer game.
I also enjoy the political aspects of the game and trying to keep the factions happy. So far I've only had one uprising but my army was able to ruthlessly crush the rebels. And trying to balance the educational system so I have a good mix of workers to perform all the jobs is really interesting. In some scenarios I actually had to import uneducated workers because my native Tropicans wouldn't demean themselves by taking jobs traditionally done by lower skilled workers. Sorry, but not everyone gets to go to college anymore.
With Tropico 4 I can see myself playing for hours and hours to come. I might even write about the game again once I get through the campaign and build a few islands.