Tropico 3

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Tropico 3 review
Sergio Brinkhuis


Arouses the dictator in the best of us

A president’s job is never done (cntd)

If your food production is high enough, you can issue an edict that doubles your followers' rations which is sure to keep them happy for a while. But, only for a while. New demands will be just around the corner and prosperity will only make them mouthier. You can't always depend on your soldiers to keep you safe either. They may be the ones staging a coup. Pay them well to keep any such thoughts out of their minds.

In between dealing with the factions, you also have a city to manage. Once you have some industry going, you can concentrate on improving the lives of your citizens. The well-to-do will appreciate condominiums, the religious will want churches and a cathedral and the communists will respect you for providing top-notch health care facilities. Many of the municipal buildings, as well as many production facilities, will require skilled workers. Building a school and college will educate the people to the required levels but these buildings are expensive. Training people also takes time, so early on you will depend on skilled workers to come to your country on their own accord. You can also hire foreign experts to man these buildings, but their price goes up with every one you invite to work for you.

After a while, managing the happiness of your population becomes easier. More money will be coming in and before you know it you are building frivolously, destroying tenements and restaurants and replacing them with luxury housing and more up-town dining establishments that will please both locals and tourists. Soon you will have turned your small country into a prosperous nation that relies on renewable resources and tourism to provide for its people.

Some bitter with the sweet

While I thoroughly enjoyed playing Tropico 3, there are some aspects that could have used a bit more polish before the game was released. Among them are the reports and stats on production and consumption. Often the game told me that starvation killed an x number of people the year before. The stats will reveal 'meals provided' and 'meals skipped' but monitoring the production of individual farms is pretty much impossible. There is no way to see how efficient a production facility is, and the only way to deal with shortages is to build more with the hope that it will be enough. Another example is the way garages work. Garages provide free cars for both tourists and citizens, which feels like a bit of a cop-out. It would have been much better if the game let you decide whether or not to give cars away for free. Every now and then, a message would appear saying that “a garage is overloaded, build another one nearby”. With four garages on the map, it would have been helpful to know just which garage was having the issues.

Fortunately there are many small but fun details that make up for these shortcomings. I really love how a simple stroke of the [ and ] keys change the look of condominiums. Additionally, many buildings have switches that change their behavior. Power stations, for example, can run on either coal or natural gas. The latter is more expensive but will also be less taxing on the environment. Some buildings can also be upgraded, improving the production speed and quality of the products.

Satisfaction guaranteed

My initial reservations about Tropico 3 turned out to be completely unfounded. Not only did Haemimont deliver one of the most feature rich management games that I have ever played, they also managed to stay true to the formula that made the original such a joy to play. Getting your island through the difficult early stages is very satisfactory and so is shaping it into a little paradise under the sun during the latter half of the game. Perhaps its greatest achievement is that the game is very easy to pick up and play, despite its depth. It does not matter whether you are new to the genre or consider yourself to be a veteran; you will never find the challenge insurmountable or the options overwhelming. Truly, this is City Building at its best.


fun score


The original series brought back to life in a superb way.


None (but say goodbye to your family life for a while).