Tropico 3 is almost exactly what I’ve always wanted out of a city building game. It takes the city building of SimCity and mixes it with the strategic balancing of Civilization. The result is an addictive real-time strategy game that plays better than I ever expected.
The over-arching objective of Tropico 3 is to become a successful dictator of the Caribbean island of Tropico. You have a huge variety of choices and ways of going about this task though, ranging from being a paranoid, militaristic dictator to a libertarian, enlightened despot.
The meat of Tropico 3 is definitely the campaign. In the campaign you rule over a series of islands, each with its own set of goals and restrictions. Before each mission you are given the option of picking from a select group of real-life dictators, such as Augost Pinochet or Fidel Castro, or creating your own ‘El Presidente.’ If you go this route, you get to customize your look, background, and personality traits. Everything you choose will have benefits and drawbacks, so it pays to recustomize your dictator before each mission based on the overall objective. No matter whether you are charged with exporting a certain amount of goods, courting tourists, or simply staying in power, everything will require you to build a good economy and keep your people happy.
Keeping your people happy is dependent upon making sure they have enough jobs and food, along with courting the various factions that your populace belongs to. These will vary from intellectuals, who want to prioritize liberty and education, to the religious, who only care about how many churches and cathedrals you build for them, to the nationalists, who prefer you block immigration and tourism. This balancing act is what adds a large amount of the strategy to Tropico 3.
Graphically, Tropico 3 looks stunning on the Xbox 360. Everything is very vibrant and detailed, even when you zoom in as far as you can. Additionally, each island has its own look and feel, further adding to the humorous mood it projects from every facet of the game.
Unfortunately, the audio doesn’t stack up to the rest of the game. DJ Juanito seems to only have three or four tracks to play, so you’ll quickly mute the soundtrack and listen to your own music instead. His public service announcements, though, add a lot to the general feel of the game. His amusing spin and delivery are a great addition to the game.
Tropico 3 has the standard sandbox mode for this type of game, made somewhat unique thanks to the game’s tongue-in-cheek humor; however, from the start you’ll know that your main focus of the game will be the campaign.
The only downside I found with the 360 version of Tropico 3 is the present of a weird bug that causes a status screen to freeze on the screen. Once it does this, the game is entirely unplayable until you turn off the game and restart it. It happens very rarely, but because of its severity, it is still a black mark against an otherwise superb game.
Tropico 3 has a long campaign and a great sandbox mode, and with the complete lack of any game on the 360 to compare with, Tropico 3 is a must buy for any fan of the genre.
Plays Like: Tropico, SimCity
Pros: Long campaign, great visuals, humor fits the game like a glove
Cons: Music gets grating quickly, weird bug that makes the game unplayable