Tropico 3

If you have ever wanted to rule as the dictator of your own tropical island, Tropico 3 may be the game you’ve been waiting for.

By fishdalf, Posted 24 Dec 2011

The Tropico series has always been a fun series of simulation games. If you’ve never played one before, imagine playing Sim City on a third world tropical island, which if you’ve ever wanted to rule as the dictator of your own tropical island before then this may be the game you’ve been waiting for. Tropico 3 allows you to either play through an open-ended sandbox mode, a tutorial mode, a campaign mode, or a challenge mode.

The premise is that you, as El Presidente, must rule your island paradise. You start out by choosing a pre-made character based on an historical leader, or alternately you can create your own character. Each avatar is required to have both strengths and weaknesses, so you may be able to create a really pious leader, but as a drawback he may have horrible flatulence. Maybe El Presidente rose to power through a military coup, or maybe he was installed by a foreign government such as the U.S. or U.S.S.R.

From the character creation you jump into the game itself. Each mission requires you to accomplish a certain goal, such as maintain power for a set number of years, export a specified quantity of oil, or suppress rebel uprisings. There’s a decent variety of goals from one mission to the next, and there are enough missions to keep you busy for some time.

Tropic 3, Review

You will have to balance your popularity with the various island factions as you attempt to accomplish these goals. The Nationalists will hate you if you hire labor from overseas, while the religious faction will be upset if you do not build churches and cathedrals. Environmentalists will hate a dirty environment, but capitalists will love a growing industry of factories, as opposed to simple farms and ranches. Lacking a strong military? Expect to lose the support of the militant’s faction. It’s a juggling game of popularity, but it’s pretty easy to grasp what each faction expects once you spend a little time with the game.

Helping you balance your popularity among the factions are edicts, which range from an anti-littering ordinance to social security for your citizens to a secret service. You can enact or retract these at any time, allowing you to either save money or increase your popularity through government spending. If you want to increase your tourist ratings then why not build fancier hotels, then issue a Mardi Gras or Spring Break edict.

On the 360 the game does not look particularly phenomenal. When you zoom on the map the lack of detail becomes apparent. It would be nice to have more detail on the character’s clothes, as well as some of the buildings. Still, you can tell who and what everything is - a soldier’s outfit looks different from a priest’s and so on and so forth.

Audio is a definite strong point of this game, with a special emphasis on the music. The tropical and Latin music used is extremely catchy and adds to the relaxed mood of the game. You will want to make sure you keep the audio on for the duration of the game for this purpose alone. Consoles have never been great for simulation and strategy games due to the complexity of the controls. This is somewhat solved on the 360 by the use of the trigger and shoulder buttons to access menus. Of course you will need to cycle through multiple tabs once the menu is opened. It’s actually not a bad system once you get used to it, but the learning curve can be steep and requires a bit of memorization if you want to quickly access and fly through a menu to construct a building.

Tropic 3, Review

The biggest drawback of Tropico 3 isn’t a gameplay problem but a technical one. I encountered a number of frozen games during my time playing, and there is a known glitch where save files can become randomly corrupted. It appears to be worse the higher the population of your island gets. If you save often and use multiple files it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle, but it’s problematic that Kalypso has not released a patch for this.

Overall, if you liked the previous Tropico games you’ll enjoy this, and if you’re not a PC gamer then the first console offering is a good start. If you enjoy sim games in general, or games that allow you to rule as a deity or lord over your people then you may also enjoy this. Despite its flaws it's still a solid sim game, with fun music, a sense of humor, and hours of engrossing gameplay.

Also, read our review on Tropico 4 by Daav Valentaten.

Jerry Kline, NoobFeed

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General Information

Tropico 3

85/100

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PC
Publisher(s): Kalypso
Developer(s): Haemimont
Genres: Simulation
Themes: Strategy
Release Date: 2009-10-20

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