Tropico 3 Review
Tropico 3 box art
System: X360, PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: Haemimont Games AD 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Kalypso Media 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 20, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Tropico 3 doesn't offer a huge number of building variations or options like many city building games do, but it doesn't need to. The depth of the game doesn't stem from the cosmetic look of the buildings, but from the dizzying level of depth and customization. For example, all the farms look exactly the same, but the player can set each farm on the island to grow a different crop. Better yet, where the farm is placed affects what types of crops it can grow. Some crops grow best at high altitudes, in high humidity, or in sunny areas. Picking the right crop for the right location can make or break your economy.

Tropico 3 screenshot

To add to the depth, the player can also set the wages of the workers based on the job or education level. Even better than that, players can set wages based on each individual building. For instance, the cooks at one restaurant could make $15 while the cooks at the restaurant close to the tourist's hotel could make $20. Players are also able to easily set the wages of all the cooks, regardless of which restaurant they work at, as simply as clicking a button. The same thing goes for the education level options, which allow the player to set the wage of all employees with no education, a high school education, or a college education.

Player will have to deal with a variety of problems such as pollution, economic disparity, crime, housing, political unrest, foreign influence, overcrowding, extreme weather, and a variety of random events that can impact the island. Hurricanes can sweep in and destroy key buildings such as electric substations, which could create rolling blackouts across the island, reducing the output of industry buildings that require power and lowering the overall happiness of the population.

Despite the game's astounding level of depth and options, however, there are a few problems that can cause headaches. For starters, the in-game tutorial is a less-than-adequate introduction to the game mechanics. It does a fine job of getting the player used to the UI and where certain information is represented, but it doesn't explain how to actually grow the economy or reduce the threat of rebellion. For example, the tutorial will tell the player how to build a farm and set a crop, but it doesn't make it clear how exactly it contributes to increasing revenue.


There are also some minor control issues. For example, when selecting a building to place on the map, the player uses the middle scroll wheel to rotate the buildings orientation. However, the scroll wheel is also used to zoom in and out, which means the player needs to zoom in close enough prior to selecting a building to ensure the placement is correct.

Placing buildings can also be frustrating, especially around corners of unusable terrain. Couple that with roads that don't seem to always path correctly the first time, and the player will find that the demolish tool can be their best friend.

Also, while the ability to customize and control an avatar of El Presidente is fun at first, it becomes almost unnecessary at later stages of the game. Luckily, the avatar automatically performs task anyway, which allows the player to focus on other things without it being a distraction.

Tropico 3 screenshot

Overall, Tropico 3 should be applauded for its depth and customization. The game's visuals along with its unique and authentic soundtrack help draw the player into its Caribbean setting. And, regardless of its few problems, none of which are game-breaking, it does an excellent job of focusing on the political, social, and economic pieces of the game, each of which often affects the others in some way.

Gamers should find that Tropico 3 is one of the better city-building RTS games to come out in a while, and although it may not be much different from its predecessors and its online "features" don't amount to more than social media "lite," what it does offer is simply solid and polished gameplay. Newcomers to the series will love the depth of Tropico 3, while veterans may be disappointed with the lack of new features, meanwhile appreciating the visual upgrade.

By Derek Hidey
CCC Freelance Writer

High-quality visuals bring the tropical islands to life, despite some stiff animations.
Standard city-building RTS controls and UI are easy to learn, despite a few problems with buttons and keys having multiple functions.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Amazing, but short, Latin soundtrack, decent sound effects, and mostly adequate voice acting, in both English and Spanish, are only brought down by a slightly annoying and repetitive play-by-play radio commentator, who can be switched off.
Play Value
Great city-building mechanics with a well-done focus on political, social, and economic gameplay provides a dizzying amount of depth. The online features are underwhelming despite the potential.
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Control and Customize El Presidente - Customize the appearance and personality of the president. Then take a stroll around your island, influencing its development further.
  • Challenging Campaign Mode - Comprehensive campaign that features 15 different missions.
  • Visually Stunning Graphics - Experience the cinematic and highly detailed graphics that perfectly reflect every piece of your Latin paradise.
  • Online Features - A variety of online functions such as high scores and visiting islands belonging to other players.

  • Screenshots / Images
    Tropico 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Tropico 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Tropico 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Tropico 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Tropico 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Tropico 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Tropico 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Tropico 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Tropico 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Tropico 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Tropico 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Tropico 3 screenshot - click to enlarge

    "Like" CheatCC on Facebook