Tropico 3

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Tropico 3 Game Poster Image
Sophisticated, deep city builder lets players be tyrants.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 10+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


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.


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.

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.

What 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.”

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 14 years old Written byholyblackman December 22, 2010

good for 7+

PROS: many biuldings, cool graphics at spots, custamizable presidents and islands, real life cituations,
CONS: impossible to read words, games camera at points... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bybenboyrocks June 22, 2010

Lots of smoking refferences and violence.

Tropico 3 is a complex, complicated game. But once you get to know it better, its fun. There is violence, but its not that bad (though the people are seen dead)... Continue reading

What's it about?

The long overdue follow up to a pair of acclaimed city building games released several years ago, TROPICO 3 puts players in the shoes of a dictator of a fictional Caribbean island. You have the option of choosing a real dictator -- such as Fidel Castro or Che Guevara -- as your avatar or creating one of your own. It’s up to you to choose how to build up the island’s economy. You can build farms and export products, strike deals with foreign companies, and snuggle up with the U.S.A. or U.S.S.R. to receive financial aid packages. Of course, the people must be provided for as well, or they’ll revolt. So, in addition to putting money into your Swiss bank accounts, you also have to spend a few dollars on things like education, health-care, and housing, lest the peasants decide to take up arms against you. Or you can just build up the military so that rebellions can be squashed and trouble-making citizens assassinated. It sounds a bit harsher than it really is; the game actually something of a tyrant parody. Still, people who have personally experienced dictatorships might be offended by its whimsical tone.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about real world dictators and their impact on the lives of the citizens they rule. Is it possible to be a benevolent dictator? Do you think that players who have lived under the dictatorships of people like Che Guevara might be insulted by the game’s whimsical tone, or simply that there is a game that allows players to pretend they are a dictator?

  • Do you like learning by playing a game? Did you try playing this game multiple times with your dictator having different traits?

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows
  • Price: $39.99
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Kalypso Media USA
  • Release date: October 18, 2009
  • Genre: Strategy
  • ESRB rating: T for Alcohol Reference, Tobacco Reference, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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