When I first started playing Tropico 3 I honestly didn’t feel that impressed. Then I looked up and noticed that I had been playing the game for 12 hours. This was right around the time that I came to terms with how much I really like the Dictator based city building game.
Anyone who has played any SimCity game will instantly feel a connection to Tropico due to the core of the game based on building a city from nothing to a thriving industrial nation. Where the two games start to differ is how politics play into the game. Both the US and USSR have opinions of how the island/city is being run and will invade if not kept happy. The citizens in the island must also be kept in check or they may rebel, and there are always the annual elections that may throw the player out of power.
All of these factors change the game slightly from the normal city building genre, but where the game really shines is how all of these elements can be played off of each other and then entirely corrupted. The player can play the US and the USSR against each other and gain more grant money from the two, the islanders who protest can fired from their jobs or arrested for their views, leaders of island factions can be bribed to overlook the squalor the people live in, and elections can be bought.
This all becomes rather entertaining during the scenario mode, where the true meat of the game appears. The player is thrust into a variety of islands and given different tasks to complete in a certain amount of time. The tasks themselves are normally rather goofy, but become more and more difficult as they go on, ranging from simply staying in power for 40 years to overcoming a past of double agent spy life. The game’s drive to continually make fun of itself and the time period it is based (mainly during the cold war era) not only allow for more entertaining in game events but also make it all that more believable when an evil twin tries to take over the island.
Not that the entire game is without flaw. There are several technical issues that plague that game, mainly in the version that shipped to retail. When I first installed the game I had problems simply getting a game started, and experienced a crash to desktop before the game was patched. After the patch I never experience another one of those issues, though. While the game does experience some slow down on some of the larger islands after they have been built up for hours and hours, most of that is towards the end of a campaign. Besides these mild issues the game almost always runs well.
The only other downside of the game is that the recorded audio, while amazingly amusing for the first several dozen hours of play does manage to get annoying after the fifth scenario is cleared. The music in the game, while clearly intended to give the feel of life on the island, fairs just a little less well then the audio in the game. Happily both of them can be turned down enough to be ignored after awhile.
The game normally retails for about 40 dollars, which is pretty good considering how certain publishers are trying to push the price tag on PC games up to the 60 dollar price point. The pricing on the game is not only good, but the vast amount of content in the game is also rather rewarding, as well as the in game function to go online and download player created campaigns. While some of the scenarios in the game may seem like they start out a little difficult, they end up being more of a pleasant challenge that teaches the player the nuances of the game. There is a lot of content here for that 40 dollar mark.
The Tropico series might have always played second fiddle in the Sim genre of games, but with Tropico 3 it easily overtakes the others who seem to have grown stale as they continually hack up the same ideas again and again, simply with updated graphics. While it isn’t a perfect game it does manage to come rather close to that mark. If you have a PC that is able to run Tropico there is no reason not to run out and buy the game. It is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.
Not As Good As: Owning your own island
Also Try: Evil Genius
Wait For It: It to be on sale on Steam
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