Kalypso is looking to break into the console world, but in doing so it is not abandoning its PC roots, it's simply bringing its most console-friendly concept to the Xbox 360 as well as Windows. Tropico 3 brings together the complexity and depth of games like SimCity, Civilization and the Empires series and boils it all down to the role of the nation's leader in developing and holding power in a banana republic.
You begin with your avatar character of El Presidente or La Presidenta (male or female in other words), although you can choose a preset leader, like Castro, and these characters have a number of aesthetic characteristics that you can alter to make them as personal to you as possible. These have no affect on the gameplay, but the personality traits and history of your character will. You have to choose your character's strengths and flaws for instance. Are you hardworking or charismatic? Are you flatulant or do you suffer from tourettes? There are lots of different options here and each will have a bearing on local and international politics when it comes to your popularity and ability to negotiate with other nations.
Your background is also very important. As the game is set in the Cold War era you must balance your relationships with both the USA and USSR. If you choose an ex-KGB history the Americans will be distrustful of you and your people may see you as a foreign puppet. On the other hand, you'll get much more support from Russia. Again there are lots of different histories to choose and they all affect the story you'll play through. Upset either of the superpowers too much and cause them to invade and it's game over. Likewise, choosing to hold an election and losing is game over.
The depth of the economic and social systems is very impressive. You have to find the right balance of jobs, education and foreign exporting to build you economy and improve the standard of life. You could also play as a tyrant and look out for disaffected citizens with your Secret Police. You could then shoot them publicly at a demonstration or perhaps stage a small accident. All of this can be experimented with during a 15 mission story campaign as well as a sandbox mode with lots of custom settings that cover island size, length of presidential term, population and so on.
Tropico 3 looks to be following on strongly from games like Civ Rev, which saw some success on Xbox 360 moving on from PC. The PC version looks much better and the interface is perhaps more natural for this style of game, but the 360 versio has all the gameplay mechanics and detail, which makes up for this. Well worth keeping an eye on if you like strategy games or just fancy playing the despot.
No. of Players:
Will appeal to fans of the strategy genre or to those who love to be in control.