Tropico 3 First Impressions

Well I've dabbled around a bit with the demo of Tropico 3 and have finished the tutorial and 2 scenarios that come with it. All those die-hard fans of the original Tropico can breathe a collective sigh of relief since this game is more of an evolution of the original rather than a drastic change, so many elements will be familiar.

The gameplay remains pretty much the same: you're El Presidente for a small Caribbean republic set during the Cold War. You have control over constructing the primary, secondary and tertiary industries of the island, including the infrastructure and public services. Points are gained for satisfying the people's wishes, how much money the treasury has thanks to profits from exports and tourism, and (last but not least) how much money you've got in your Swiss Bank Account.

Some of the new improvements include new buildings (like the Foreign Aid station), the addition of actual roads to the infrastructure (i.e. cars), El Presidente being a customisable avatar that can actually walk around your island, and you also get to make election speeches too (that can actually be heard on the radio, Mass Effect style!) As you can see, they're not huge changes but incremental ones.

The graphics have been significantly upgraded however, and you'd expect that after the Railroad Tycoon 3 engine they used for the original Tropico! The music and audio have pretty much stayed the same, or even regressed since you don't have actual songs on the soundtrack anymore, just a generic Latin American sounding one - but it's still pretty good.

The only thing I'm finding annoying at the moment is the interface which is not very intuitive. In this game, the right-click actually activates menus whereas in most games, the right-click is used for closing menus or canceling actions - this has caused me to open and close menus by accident many times. Also the mouse wheel is used for zooming (which is pretty much standard in most games) BUT when in Place Building mode the mouse wheel turns into what you use to rotate the building, and zooming is disabled - which can get quite annoying if you're already zoomed up close since you have to exit the Build Mode and make sure you're at just the right distance before deciding to activate it again. It might seem minor but after having to go through the same process several times it can get annoying.

Overall, I think Tropico 3 looks promising and it may very well be a worthy successor to the original Tropico. It isn't a quantum leap but it's more of an incremental change, like SimCity 2 to SimCity 3...