Tropico 3 is a game developed by Haemimont Games and published by Kalypso Media. The team at Haemimont games do not make many Xbox games (in fact this is their first one), but ever since I started into Tropico 3, they definitely should make more. However, they are the makers of by far, one of the most fun and unique strategy games on the Xbox 360. Everyone should at least check out this addicting game.
Tropico 3 is sort of a mash up of Rollercoaster Tycoon and Sim City. You acquire an island country after the former leader steps down, and it is up to you to rule and keep your people happy. You start off with a lengthy tutorial that does a good job at getting you acquainted with some of the major points of the game. Almost immediately, you are thrust into the very lengthy campaign mode, which is one of three modes in the game. By lengthy, I mean that it took me almost two to two and a half hours just to beat one scenario. There is a lot of time going to be spent in this mode alone.
One of the other two modes is a “sandbox” mode. In “sandbox”, you set the parameters and the game from scratch, allowing you to play for a set amount of years in office. The sandbox mode has to be my favorite mode in the game. It gives you the most freedom, and allows you to toy with all the aspects the game has to offer. The final mode is a challenge mode, in which you work against the clock to accomplish certain parameters under certain conditions. All of these modes come with online leader boards, with the tally being score you are given a score based on how well you rule your country. You will spend hours just playing the campaign mode, but this game has still so much more to offer, that you will be playing it for months.
This game would not be as fun if it did not have a very good control scheme. In this case, it is simple, yet precise. You use the left stick to control the camera, and the right stick to zoom and in out. The A button selects everything you need, and to open the build menu, you just push Y. By holding the right trigger, you can select more options such as speed up or slow down time (similar to the Sims games), as well as open the almanac, select your ruler on the map, and open the edicts (contracts) menu. When on the map, you can simply select any citizen of your country by pushing the X button, and see what their needs are so you can satisfy them. Overall, the control scheme is near-perfect and covers everything you could possibly want to do.
The game is also very pretty. The island locale is very nice, complete with tropical music and a charismatic announcer. The game really has its own feel-good, tropical personality, which is a very nice touch seeing as you are ruling a tropical island. The building artwork can change whether your country is poor or rich, so you get a feeling of how your economy is doing just by looking over your country. The animations can be a little wonky, depending on where you build something. Cars can drive at weird angles if you build a garage in an odd place, but overall that doesn’t take away much from the game. Also, there is some screen tearing, and a bit of slowdown if you have a lot of things going on, but both of these are very minor overall.
Tropico 3 can also be a very challenging game. You really do have to take into consideration the needs of your people. Every so often throughout the game, you will have to make choices who to please and who to anger, and once you choose one, you have to be consistent to that group, or you can wind up in loads of trouble. You also have to be really careful how you allocate your funds, because there is not a lot of money to go around. The game can get hectic when you are worrying about what to build, if there is going to be a rebel uprising, or who to form an alliance with.
On the subject of rebel attacks, I have a small gripe with the game. When a rebel attack occurs, it tells you how many soldiers are attacking you, and where they are attacking, the only problem is that it is not specific. There is no real way to tell where it is unless you comb the island to pinpoint it. It’s not a major problem, but if you are constantly being attacked, it can potentially be frustrating. The game can have it challenges and be very overwhelming, but once you get the hang of it, you can really have a blast.
Tropico 3 is a one of a kind game for the 360. I think that’s what makes it so great, is that there are next to no other games on the system that are like it. The closest thing to come to this style of game is Thrillville, and Tropico 3 does it bigger and much better. I highly encourage everyone to check this game out, because there is something for everyone to love here. If you were at all fascinated with building things, or being the leader of something when you were a kid, this is a game that you will definitely enjoy. Especially at a price point of forty dollars, you really can’t go wrong being a dictator for a day.