This new system both personalizes the game and brings missions to the forefront. Now, you know what you're supposed to be doing at all times. In a way, the game kind of takes you by the hand because the factions, nations, and even foreign businessmen you occasionally partner up with give you so much direction. This comes with pluses and minuses. While these nudges make the game easier to play--and a real treat for city-building newbies--they also make the missions seem a little more linear than you'd expect in this genre. One word of warning, too: All of these characters are played very broadly. Those easily offended should probably close their eyes when the buck-toothed Asian guy appears. Still, it's hypocritical to take offense at a game like this, which is actually very dark when you stop to think about what you're doing. If your hackles are raised at things like racial stereotypes out of old Bugs Bunny cartoons, you probably shouldn't be playing a game that lets you portray monsters like Papa Doc Duvalier.
No island dictatorship would be complete without a great big statue of Jesus.
Economics have been expanded as well. Instead of just exporting goods to the docks and over the horizon, you can now import them. All of the items in the game, from raw goods to finished factory products, can be viewed in a new section of the almanac. Just a few clicks there allow you to open yourself up for business. This might be the most successful new tweak in Tropico 4, although even it doesn't alter things much. The main change that it introduces is the ability to run your islands like low-wage sweatshops. Instead of producing and gathering raw goods, like wood or iron on your islands, you can now import the stuff and turn it into pricey finished goods like jewelry, furniture, or even weapons. In an odd way, this is the creepiest aspect of the entire game because even assassinating foes isn't quite as icky as exploiting poor people to make cheap goods for spoiled Westerners.
Unfortunately, none of these additions really alter how you play the game. Missions still roll out the same way, with you building the same old of farms, clinics, churches, schools, tenements, and police stations, often in the same order. A handful of new buildings, like an expanded range of tourism attractions that include aqua parks, offer a bit of variety, but they make so little impact that you find yourself constantly asking, "Hey, wasn't that in the last game?" Repetition is a real problem. As compelling as the game can be at times, with such vibrant islands, a great sense of humor, and easy-to-master mechanics, you fall into a rut and find yourself repeatedly building the same islands. Many missions run well over two hours in length, too, forcing you to sit there and watch as counters run up to reach winning objectives like set numbers of exported goods or online followers. This can get very frustrating because you can often see that you're going to win a good 30 or 40 minutes before the goals are completely fulfilled.
Many of your advisors have faces that would be perfect for radio.
Tropico 4 has gotten broader but not deeper. While the tweaks to the economy, government, and mission assignments make it a better game than its predecessor, you go over the same old ground too often. Still, these changes make for a marginally better game, and newcomers to city building should find the game very easy to get into, thanks to the mission structure and constant advice. But, most of these improvements would have served a stand-alone expansion or an add-on pack much better than a full sequel.