Tropico 3 Review

As previously mentioned I picked up Tropico 3 for $6 thanks to the current Direct2Drive sale, and I’m very glad I did. The game is a very lighthearted and comical take on the SimCity genre, and made for a great second game to League of Legends over the long weekend.

I’ll get the ‘required’ review stuff out of the way first: the graphics are very nice, especially maxed out, but the engine does put your hardware to the test. Even my beefy Alienware computer had trouble keeping things at 30FPS+ at 1900×1200 maxed. Not that you need a super high framerate to enjoy the game, given its slower pace, but if you have borderline hardware you might have to scale things down. The sound is also very enjoyable, with a fitting soundtrack and some funny (if not repetitive) radio banter. The expected sounds of the city fit well and bring you into the game rather than distract you from it. So far I have no run into any bugs, errors, or crashes.

With that stuff out of the way, here are some reasons I’m really enjoying Tropico beyond the fact that it’s just a solid, well executed game. For starters, it’s a somewhat ‘casual’ game, in that you don’t have to understand every last working bit to be successful and make your way through a scenario. So long as you understand some basics (and the game does a good job of teaching those), you can get a functional economy going and learn from there. The game is very good at giving you feedback about what you might be doing wrong, or what your island needs, and so far I’ve not seen any one thing that is do-or-die in terms of importance. I think part of the reason I’m enjoying this aspect as much is because I know Civilization V will be almost the complete opposite, and while I love mastering the details of a game, it’s also nice to just be able to sit back and play rather than dominate.

The campaign, which is a series of different island challenges, has so far been interesting. Each island has its own setup or problem, and with a wide variety of events that go off as you play, you can’t just copy/paste the same strategy for every city. Also unlike SimCity itself, you can’t manipulate the terrain much in Tropico, which means you have to fit your city into the island you are given rather than bulldoze everything so it all fits. This was a really smart design decision as it really brings out the strategy of setting up each island, and making sure you place things with some consideration for the future.

The final item I want to bring up is the humor, because Tropico has it in spades and it not only keeps you entertained as you play, but factors into the gameplay as well. Since the game is set between the 1950s and 1980s, the US and USSR are the two super powers vying to control your island, and keeping them both happy is critical. Both are portrayed in stereotypical fashion, with the US being all about money and capitalism while the USSR is all ‘for the people’ and communist. Between the different radio sound bites that play as you go and the different events that you or the game triggers (getting paid to be the site of a nuke test by the US for example), you never get too pulled in to building the perfect city block, something I always felt SimCity breaks down to and ultimately gets boring because of.

I believe the sale only lasts until tomorrow, so if you are even a remote fan of the city building genre, or want a fun casual game to fill up some time, Tropico is a steal right now. At $6, it’s impossible not to recommend it.

Chuck-o-the-day: When Google can’t find something, they Norris it.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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1 Response to Tropico 3 Review

  1. Pid says:

    I have to agree, this was one of the best $6.00 I have spent in years. The one negative aspect of the game that I have noticed is that that sandbox part of the game is somewhat unsatisfying if you aren’t an rabid achievement collector. I suppose you could really ramp up the difficulty sliders, but there I think this would add more frustration than challenge. Not to let this diminish the game, because it is truly a gem. It would well be worth the $30 it costs on D2D but for $6 it almost feels a little like stealing!

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