Publisher: Kalypso Media
Developer: Haemimont Games
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360
PC Demo Release: September 7, 2009
Tropico 3 is a strategy game set in the Cold War where the player takes on the role of “El Presidente”, president of a Caribbean island country. Not a political mastermind? No worries there, you can choose to rule your country with an iron fist as a corrupt overseer, or you can be the people’s El Presidente by meeting their needs and creating a tropical paradise. Just make sure that when it comes time for re-election that you have the popularity… or enough money, to sway the voters!
Tropico 3 brings us back to Tropico’s roots, but with spiffy new graphics, added features and a good number of campaigns. Because the game does feel like a reboot of the first Tropico, both fans of the series and newcomers alike can hop in on equal footing.
In addition to being a strategy game, Tropico 3 is also part simulation. There are plenty of structures available to build, with the goal of earning you some cash, be it to improve your country or to pad El Presidente’s Swiss bank account. Your citizens will automatically take up jobs, but if you don’t like the look of someone you can easily send them packing back to their slum shack. Micromanaging is not really necessary, as your citizens will go about their business. But if you enjoy micromanaging then the ability to do so is there to some degree.
The game is well suited to casual and hardcore gamers alike. With the objective-based campaigns strategy players can go to town and become an Uber-El-Presidente, whereas more casual gamers can enjoy playing at a slower pace (or while flipping screens back and forth at work!).
Loading up Tropico 3 for the first time was music to my ears. The sweet Tropico Latin sounds that folks may remember from previous installments of the game are back. In fact, everything that I loved about the first Tropico is back, plus more.
The simple in-game tutorial is likely enough to get newcomers through the basics, and Tropico veterans should be able to hop right into their role as El Presidente. The game comes equipped with Campaign mode, Sandbox and Online play. When playing the Campaign mode you will be given a primary objective, but will also receive added objectives throughout the campaign, allowing you to gain extra points. Don’t expect to whiz right through a campaign in five minutes either; they can be quite lengthy depending on your style of play.
When starting a game you will create a custom avatar or choose a pre-existing character. Stock avatars include the likes of Fidel Castro, Che Guerva, Manuel Noriega and Eva Peron; among others. When creating a custom avatar you select a background, each with its own perks. I wanted to have a background in farming, hoping that it would help me gain the respect of the common folk. Alas, farmer came with a -10 to the intellectual faction. So, I decided to go with Pop Singer for the increased tourism and US relations. My rise to power was that of “Heir Apparent”, all factions respect me, but they have low democratic expectations, which is just the way I like it!
You also select your own qualities and flaws. Flaws are difficult to choose from because they hit you pretty hard. I decided to be a womanizer. This is why my female character looks like she could “go either way”; I wanted to appeal to both sexes! I also selected Tourette’s Syndrome as one of my flaws so that I could swear throughout this preview.
My El Presidente decided to spend her first day in office standing alone in a field. Good thing she wasn’t really needed. The first thing you’ll probably want to do upon taking over your country is to start tossing up some buildings. The game will suggest building types based (I assume) on what your country needs at the time. However, after following some initial building tips you’ll probably want to take the helm on this one. After all, you are El Presidente and you’re not gonna take no stinking tips from a load of circuits and tangled up cords!
Missions start with a briefing and straight forward objectives. For example, the first campaign mission objective is to export at least 8000 units of agricultural exports. You can play with tips on or off, but the tips are quite handy unless you plan to let the game run on auto-pilot. If you’re waiting for a building to go up or just want to speed up the gameplay, there is fast-forward and super fast-forward. On the flip side of the coin, if you get flustered you can pause the game to catch up on your tasks.
Throughout your campaigns various bits of information will pop up, such as reports of protestors. You can go hang out and watch them wave their little signs around; or you can find out what they want and try to meet their needs. That is, if you are in the business of meeting the needs of your piddly little citizens. Remember, you are El Presidente!
Edicts are back and bigger ‘n badder than ever, featuring a good old fashioned Book BBQ, Inquisition, Papal Visit, the ability to send your prisoners to Florida (oh how rude!), Nuclear Testing, allowing same sex marriages and loads more. Each edict that you issue will have both a negative and positive impact on your people and your rule as El Presidente. For example, if you decide you want to issue an edict to kiss the United States’ ass, then you’re going to piss off the USSR. But if the US is on your coast with a battleship and they’re threatening to take you out then you’re probably going to say screw the USSR. That is, until THEY show up on your coast with a battleship as well. At which point you should probably think about beefing up your army!
One of Tropico 3′s new features is the ability to create an “Election Speech” when your term is nearly up. You can choose to kiss up to any political faction you like, you can make campaign promises, or you can just say screw them all and boast about how great you are! The voting is done live as you play, with the number of voters for both you and your opponent shown on the top of the screen.
Overall: Tropico 3′s graphics are terrific, and gameplay is smooth on a mid-range system with all graphics set to “Ultra”. The music is what you would expect from a well-done Tropico sequel. The gameplay is fun and challenging, and replayability should not be an issue. Haemimont Games did a great job of bringing Tropico fans the updated fix we’ve been craving. And if you weren’t previously a Tropico fan, then now’s your chance. This is El President signing out; I’ve got some farmers to evict from their homes!