Break out the aviator style sunglasses and grow a moustache. Its time to get your best dictator head on. Kneel before me, peasants!
Tropico 3, published by Kalypso,Â puts you in charge of running a small tropical island. As the ruler, it is down to you to decide what to build, and where, and to provide for the population, or your pocket. Take the path of benevolent leader and take your people into wealth and prosperity. Or you could take the path of evil dictator, rule with an iron fist and fill your Swiss bank account. The choice is yours, what type of leader are you?
The game starts you off with a simple tutorial, explaining the basics of running your small island. From there you can follow the campaign which consists of a number of scenarios with basic objectives. These objectives include such as staying in power for a given amount of time, or raising the population to a set number. There is also a sandbox mode, for those of you that just want to get on with it. A game editor and downloadable fan-created scenarios complete this package of tropical fun.
One of the new additions to this Tropico game is the ability to control an avatar. This avatar represents your dictator and there is a wide choice of many famous dictators such as Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. More fun though is to create your own. Each of the pre-made dictators come with character traits, and your own creation is no exception. These traits serve to make certain aspects of the game easier or harder, and are a lot of fun. Traits such as being a womaniser, heavy drinker, or gambler are all fairly straight forward. Some of the traits are a bit more bizarre, such as being flatulent or suffering from Tourettes Syndrome. Either way, the traits you choose have an effect on the game, sometimes in ways that are surprising. Whilst playing through the game you can zoom in to street level and have your dictator walk the streets, should you wish.
Tropico 3 is a city management game. However, unlike most games of this genre, Tropico 3 feels as though you are starting the game at a disadvantage. It seems like the whole world is against you, which they probably are. There are numerous factions on your island and it is true to say that you cannot please all of the people all of the time. No matter how benevolent you are, some of these factions will want you removed from power, or dead. Don’t even get me started on the pressure from the US and Russia. Balancing these factions is perhaps the most important aspect of the game, and this is where Tropico 3 gets all political. Consider this, befriend the Americans, annoy the nationalists, befriend the Russians and annoy the Americans. Eventually there will be a revolution and you will be ousted from power, unless you pay the army enough. Maybe there will be an election? No problem, make your promises and buy your way back into power. Then you will have to keep to those promises, or suffer the consequences. And who keeps trying to assassinate you? You get the idea, there is a lot to think about from a political point of view.
Amongst all of this political intrigue, there is the other side of the game. Constructing enough tenements that your population can grow, enough farms to feed your growing population, and providing enough jobs for them. Making money by exporting surplus produce, or maybe there is oil on your island, or mineral deposits to mine. Construct roads, provide healthcare and education so that all of your healthcare professionals don’t have to be hired from other countries. Expand and grow is the name of the game.
Random events will occur throughout the game that provide the player with a distraction from the everyday assassination attempts and uprisings. These events really make you think, as they start seemingly small and can snowball into a national disaster before you realise it.
Graphically, Tropico 3 is nothing to write home about. It looks bright and colourful and the animations are good, but its not going to make you sit bolt upright in awe. But that’s ok, this genre of games is not known for the stunning visuals, and in comparison with other similar games, Tropico 3 is one of the best. The sound, on the other hand, can be annoying. I realise that the Latin American sounds are there to build an atmosphere, but after a while they start to irritate. Throughout the game, you are treated to a commentary from DJ Juanito, whose radio broadcasts serve to inform you of the current feelings of your populace. This is actually very helpful and, although his voice can be a bit irritating, fitted in well with the atmosphere of the game.
The games tutorial sadly does not offer much by way of insight into how to run the island. This may put off potential newcomers to the game, as the lack of decent tutorial, combined with the steep learning curve, may well find players out of there depth early on. Playing through the campaign missions will explain everything you need to know, as long as you are willing to put in the time and make a few mistakes.
Another slight problem is that the game can be very slow. There are times when a huge amount is happening on your island paradise, and the pause button will come in very handy. However, this is not always the case, and although you can speed up time, it is still not fast enough. Being able to zoom through the boring bits at high speed would have been a nice addition to the game.
All in all, Tropico 3 is a deep and enjoyable game. There are a couple of minor niggles, but these can be overlooked. Tropico 3 will offer players, who are willing to put in the time, an engrossing experience and a lot of fun.
This game was provided for review by GamersGate