Tropico 3 Review

| | Comments (0)
Tropico 3 Publisher: Kalypso Media
Developer: Haemimont Games

Platforms: PC and Xbox 360
Reviewed on PC

Windows System Requirements: 2.4 GHz Single-Core Processor, 1 GB RAM, DirectX 9C compatible video card with 256 MB VRAM, 5 GB HD space, Windows XP or more recent operating system

Can your (possibly) trustworthy second-in-command, Penultimo, help you lead a Caribbean nation to prosperity? If not, can you at least siphon a great pile of cash into your Swiss bank account before being deposed? Gain the love of your people and keep your post thanks to free democratic elections, or use the military and secret police to ensure your continued rule. The choice is yours, but the people are fickle and the rebels are plentiful. Your reign over Tropico will not be an easy one.

Kyle Ackerman

Were I a Caribbean dictator, my people would always eat well, my local industry would be strong and I would never get around to building an airport. Or so I learned from playing Tropico 3. Apparently, I can't manage much in the way of corruption, either, even when I try. The people are always demanding a better life, and my budget is always too small to divert anything to my Swiss bank account. Somehow another clinic or apartment building is always more important, not to mention somewhere to stash my secret police.

Revisiting an Old Flame

I really enjoyed Tropico 3. Save a few grammatical problems in the text, Tropico 3 has an impressive level of polish. It should. There have been a few improvements, but the franchise hasn't changed much since the release of the original Tropico, seven years ago. The intervening years have taken the already entertaining simulation and given it a lot of additional detail and up-to-date graphics. Fortunately, there's no need for modern gamers to bone up on previous Tropico games – there's simply plenty of fun to be had with the latest, Tropico 3.

Fundamentally, what makes Tropico 3 fun is its unique and colorful theme. This isn't a typical modern (or historical) city simulation. In Tropico 3, you are the president (only occasionally fairly elected) of a small island republic in the Caribbean. Not only do you have to build the island's economy while keeping a variety of factions (such as nationalist, intellectual and religious groups) content, but you must also manage relations with the United States and Soviet Union. That delicate Cold-War balance can result in substantial aid from both nations or either superpower invading and deposing you as president.

That Beret Doesn't Distract From Your Flatulence

The theme hasn't changed from the original Tropico, but the trappings are glorious. "Good Morning, Tropico!" The Tropican radio regularly shouts, interspersing genuinely danceable and appropriate music with announcements concerning current events or actual historical events from other islands. The game spans the Cold War and offers players the opportunity to build a peaceful and productive economy, an impressive tourist destination, or a thoroughly oppressive police state.

In another refinement on the original Tropico, there are even more leaders and traits with which to construct leaders. I love the roster that extends from real figures such as Che Guevara and Eva Peron to customizable leaders who can sport traits from "hardworking" to "flatulent."

As with the first game, there is a problem with feedback. Tropico 3 is very good at telling you what your island doesn't have, but isn't good at explaining what's wrong with what you've already built. For example, when a garage has too much traffic, it's not always easy to tell which one, and sometimes it's hard to tell why a particular farm is having trouble finding fields to sow.

A Carefully Crafted Cold War

After playing Tropico 3 for a while, I got into the groove of a clear build order. I knew I was nearly there when the populace was demanding churches, clinics and schools moments before I finished those selfsame buildings. Once I achieve that build order, sandbox games lose their appeal, but the strength of Tropico 3 (beyond the amazing soundtrack) is its ability to insert scripted events that transform the priority of structures and balance of power. The pre-made scenarios are clever, pursuing goals as pleasant as building a better vacation paradise or as nasty as avoiding repeated rebel attacks.

Even better than the game's story campaign is the sophistication of the game's editor, and the availability of user-created islands. With a little patience and practice, gamers can easily craft their own scenarios, pursuing any of myriad Cold-War Caribbean goals with storylines limited only by user creativity. Simply put, Tropico 3 may not be perfect, but it's easy to recommend as an entertaining chance to rule a tropical island with a gentle guiding hand or an iron fist.

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Editor published on January 10, 2010 12:03 PM.

GameStop Promotes Mauler was the previous entry.

More Downloadable Games Reach the DSi and Wii is the next entry.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


Add to Technorati Favorites