A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
While players can try to play the game as benevolently as possible, the inescapable fact is that they are simulating the life of a dictator. That means there will be rebel uprisings that need to be quashed, opposing figures who need to be assassinated, and citizens who must be fed lies in order to be kept satisfied.
Positive Role Models
Players take on the role of a dictator and can make him as tyrannical or compassionate as they like. That said, the game certainly nudges players toward the former. While players have to sate citizens' thirst for things like jobs, education, and health care, they also have the goal of padding their own Swiss bank accounts, which takes money out of the hands of their people. Plus, it's often much easier to simply kill off opposing parties than try to work out political or diplomatic solutions. If you choose the trait of womanizer, the description for that trait states: "You can't sleep with all of them, but you must at least try."
Ease of Play
The tutorial acquaints players with little more than the basics of control and menu navigation. Players will need to come to grips with the ins and outs of their nation's economy, military, and diplomatic capabilities through trial and error during the actual game. It's not easy, but it players familiar with city builders shouldn't have too rough a go of it.
Violence & Scariness
Players use police and military forces to quell rebel uprisings, typically using guns. These shootings take place from an elevated perspective, and the player is not in direct control of any of the characters involved. No blood is seen; characters simply fall to the ground and disappear when killed.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There are no sexual acts in the game, but players can select the trait "womanizer" in the character creation module, which makes that your dictator interested in sleeping with as many women as possible.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Dictators are seen chomping on cigars in the character creation module, and players can choose to grow crops of tobacco. Players can also choose to build distilleries and pubs, and an optional dictator trait is "alcoholic." If that trait is selected, the game will talk about AA meetings and addiction to alcohol.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tropico 3 is a city building simulation game in which the player takes on the role of a Caribbean dictator who can be either a real personality -- such as Fidel Castro or Che Guevara -- or a character of their own creation. While the game has a whimsical tone and lets players be as benevolent or tyrannical as they like, it tends to push toward the latter, if only because it's easier to quell rebel uprisings with guns than diplomacy. It's worth noting, though, that the gun-play is about as mild as such a thing can be; it's viewed from an elevated perspective and there's no blood or gore. Wounded soldiers simply fall to the ground and disappear. Parents should also note that tobacco and alcohol are referenced in relation to the types of buildings players can construct (distilleries, tobacco farms, and pubs), and that the dictator creation module allows players to choose traits such as "womanizer" and "alcoholic."
Is It Any Good?
As city builders go Tropico 3 is deep and satisfying. This isn't just a game about building farms, roads, and houses; the range of options at the player's disposal is exceptional. You can control everything from workers' salaries to the cost of rent in your citizens' apartments. And that's to say nothing of the speeches you'll write to quell citizen concerns, the fishy deals you'll strike with foreign companies to bring business to the island and earn a bit of cash foryourselves, or the rebellions you'll need deal with in order to stay in power. With 15 missions in the box plus thousands of player-created challenges to download, you may still be playing Tropico 3 come next holiday.
However, the depth may also prove an annoyance for some. The quick tutorial covers only the bare basics of play, meaning players need to learn by trial and error once the game starts. Veteran city builders shouldn't have too much trouble, but it will be daunting for rookies. Aside from the steep learning curve and the dictatorship themes that might offend some players, Tropico 3 looks good and offers a very interesting strategy game experience.
Online interaction: Players can create and share "challenges" (maps with specific goals) with the rest of the game's community online.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.