The best of 2012 according to Flippy’s totally biased opinion.
Tropico 4 was NOT launched in 2012, but I discovered it in 2012 and for me, it was the most influential video game of the year.
There are many things that I like about this game. In fact, I liked it so much that I spent most time playing it than Dynasty Warriors. For those of you who know me, you know that’s really something.
Tropico 4 is a construction and management simulator, but it really stands out on its own and offers a completely different experience from SimCity and the likes.
The game is not easy, and it’s definitely not for people without patience who like action and quick results. It takes a couple of hours to get the basics down and really enjoy playing it. And then you’d only be scratching the surface. It can get as complex as you want it, allowing you to dive into a sea of information in order to make decisions such as what to invest in, who to please, what risks you’re willing to take etc.
In case you haven’t heard about it, Tropico is basically Cuba meets SimCity. You play a dictator of a small banana republic in the Caribbean during the Cold War Era, either choosing from a list of well-known individuals, such as Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, or creating your own. Oh, and even banana republic is a big term because your whole country consists of a very small island.
You decide what to invest in in order to make money. You can develop tourism, agriculture, or industry, or a mix of all three, each with its pros and cons. In addition to that, you select edicts that are basically laws for your island.
A very interesting part of the game is that there are both internal and external interests groups, and taking one course of action will usually please one and displease another. For example, allowing same-sex marriage will please the intellectuals but upset the religious. Get too cozy with the USA and soon you’ll have the USSR’s fleet blocking your port. Throw in a good amount of clever and satirical humor and parody and you get the idea of why I like this game.
But what makes it influential is how it made me realize the challenges of what actually ruling a country would be like. We have the idea that if El Presidente really wants something done, it will get done. It is not like that at all. Budgets are not limitless and there are other people who will want to get their way too. And I saw this confirmed in real life with this year’s presidential election. There’s no candidate that can please everybody because that’s impossible. In politics, for every friend you make, you make at least one enemy, so you have to make sure that friend really counts. And that’s on a video game, so I can barely imagine how it would be in real life where you get bribes and life threats.
Another thing that I realized is that, whatever the policies are, a country has to be able to feed itself. There are just too many random things that you can’t control that can wreck your plans and ruin your expected revenues. If you have no money and no food production, people die or get violent… and they stop working, greatly reducing your chances of getting money in the future. If you are able to feed your people, at least you won’t fall into the vicious circle when disaster strikes.
Also, you know what is the best thing to do to improve the quality of life of a country in the long term? Education. After covering the basic needs, education is by far the best thing to invest in. The drawback is that you won’t get the results of that investment until a decade or two. Since our governments don’t have that continuity and they are much more interested in showing results in the short term, i.e. during their administration, it’s not a surprise that such investments aren’t done in real life.
Lastly, Tropico 4 is a slow game, and it involves a lot of waiting. Unlike other games, where building construction is immediate, in Tropico constructing a building takes a long time, especially if your workers aren’t motivated because they will tend to miss work or leave early. In my case, this was actually a benefit, since I would make a few decisions at the beginning of the year (in game time), then switch to Word and work for a while, then switch back to the game to see the end of the year and start anew.
So, that’s why Tropico 4 is my video game of the year. I would like to hear about YOUR game of the year. In the comments below, tell me what your video game of the year was and why.