Tropico games were based on the same principle idea as classic Dictator from Spectrum computers - while in charge of a small country you have to make decisions that will please some of the islanders and at the same time will make some others mad. In Tropico 3 beside 7 social groups (socialists, capitalists, intellectuals, religious, militarists, environmentalists and nationalists) you have to take two other groups - United States and Soviet Union.
The graphic side of the game is rather pleasing 3D generated island, the radio playing latino music in the background sets a nice atmosphere of laid back sunny island. Those are the strong points of the game, but the main part, the game itself, is not that impressive. We have available several scenarios and sandbox mode, but more or less each time we do exactly the same things for exactly the same reasons and each game on each island is pretty much exactly the same as the previous or next one. The most important tool in our hands is ability to plan what buildings and where will be put - from tourism, industry, entertainment to housing - each type of the building will play part in the development of the island. Unfortunately some of the choices we have are rather silly, f.e. every time the religious islanders will demand a church. Ok, fair enough, but once you build the church they will demand a cathedral. And no, not instead of the church, not to replace the church, they demand cathedral and preservation of the church even though the church is empty and the population of whole island is f.e. 120 people. The militarists will demand military base, which even if is completely empty will keep them happy. Communists are obsessed with housing and don’t really care about anything else.
Overall Tropico 3 has nice look, nice sounds, but the game engine itself is very primitive and the game itself is very repetitive. On every island you have different goals to reach, but the ways you can reach them is very limited (or rather there are always the same steps you will have to make to reach them). Not to mention that the gameplay is limited to about 20 simulated years, so don’t bother with planning ahead, because you won’t be there long enough to see the fruits of your grand idea. It is nice little game, but it lacks the originality and the clever bits that would make you fall in love with Tropico 3. I guess the creators did not spend much time inventing the content and concentrated on the looks only.
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