Tropico 3 First Impressions

We caught up with El Presidente's shady dealings in this latest instalment to the colourful series.

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In Tropico 3, you reassume the role of dictator El Presidente, a position that affords you ultimate control of a banana republic from the height of the Cold War to the 1990s. Tropico 2 eschewed the Cold War for a pirate theme, however, current publisher Kalypso is taking us back to a modern-day totalitarian paradise with Tropico 3, and we managed to get a first look at the PC version of the city-building strategy game at Kalypso's GamesCom booth.

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Who's Making This Game: Haemimont is the team behind the well-received Celtic Kings: The Punic Wars and the poorly received Imperium Romanum. Kalypso is responsible for publishing duties.

What the Game Looks Like: Tropico 3 uses a top-down view, and from on high, your dictatorship feels like a living, breathing country. When you're not working your subjects to the bone, you can watch them working themselves to the bone. The game uses the same engine as Grand Ages: Rome, and we're told it should run on a machine with a 2.0GHz CPU, 1GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce 8600 GPU.

What There Is to Do: One of the major new features in Tropico 3 is the ability to create your own dictator from scratch, with plenty of control over his appearance, background, allegiance to the US and USSR, and whether he studied in Moscow or at Harvard, for instance. Another new feature allows you to share your saved data through the game's online community. Keeping true to the series, Tropico 3 will feature plenty of construction and management, and you can build plenty of structures, including construction offices, transportation facilities, farms, tourist attractions, and even institutes to establish the country as a tax haven. In total, there are 15 single-player missions to keep you occupied.

How the Game Is Played: As El Presidente, you have ultimate and unquestionable control over your country, including its physical properties. Before starting a new campaign, you can choose the size and shape of your island, as well as other details, such as the amount of vegetation and mineral deposits. Once you have a thriving nation, you can hold election speeches from your palace balcony in the hope of swaying public opinion. But if that doesn’t work, why not just rig the election instead?

There are plenty of other things you can tool around with too, such as tax rates, political edicts, prohibition, social security, and propaganda. You can also decide whether you want to oppress the people or try to win their favour. An almanac shows you the current state of the nation, including details on your popularity rating, economy, politics, and even the citizens in your watched list. There is a risk you'll be overthrown, and unlike real life where you might be able to go into hiding or flee the country, that is where the story ends. Before that happens, however, you can build a secret police building to assassinate political targets or, if you prefer the subtle approach, stage an unfortunate "accident" to get rid of them.

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What They Say: " The game will attract fans of the Tropico series, as well as newcomers with state-of-the-art graphics. The game offers complex gameplay similar to the other titles in the series and a comprehensive multiplayer mode."

What We Say: Tropico 3 looks like it will offer some rewarding gameplay and possibly even offer an education on how to run a dictatorship. If you think you've got what it takes, you can find out this October when the game is released.

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