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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Strategy

 

Publisher

GOD Games

 

Developer

PopTop

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q2 2001

 

 

- More simplistic approach to city building genre

- Has elements of The Sims

- Plenty of variation in game setup

 

 

- Can get frustrating having to wait for a required building to be built before continuing

- Animation and graphics tend to get real choppy and slow at higher graphic

settings or when too many buildings and people are on the screen at one time

- You donít really get to keep all that money you stash in a Swiss Bank account

 

 

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Tropico

Score: 9.1 / 10

 

Ever wonder what it would be like to be Fidel Castro? He took over Cuba in 1959 by leading his guerilla commandos over the Cuban army and installing a dictatorship, briskly suppressing any opposed to his rule. He quickly aligned himself with the Communist government of the USSR, and has been happily smoking those fine Cuban cigars in his own little tropical paradise ever since.

tropico-a.jpg (26955 bytes)          tropico-b.jpg (25054 bytes)

Wonder no more, because you have the ability to bask in the warm sun as you set up your own tropical governmental rule with the release of the entertaining Tropico.

Taking control of the office of El Presidente of a tropical island somewhere in the South American region, from the size of the island you rule, to what kind of government you will implement, everything is at your command in this great simulation title. Tropico is the creation of the development team at PopTop Software who were responsible for the popular Railroad Tycoon II.

It seems that PopTop Software, set out to make a less-complex Sim City-type game but then decided to implement some of the elements of the huge Maxis hit, The 

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Sims, into the package. This turns out to be a very good move.

 

For instance, by clicking on an individual, you can see their thoughts, which could help you strategize your next move in the game. Tropico incorporates this obvious nod to The Simsí addictive gameplay nature of exerting control over the Tropicans themselves, although not to the same level that you control the characters of The Sims.

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This is almost the reverse strategy of the popular Sims game; Tropico is heavier on the building and island management gameplay aspect than on the control of the actual game characters.

The ability to set up the game to whatever length and contain any variables you desire is what makes this a real winner. You start the game in the year 1950 and can stretch the game length from 20 to 70 years, depending on how long you want to try and rule your island. How long you stay in power is based on the many decisions you make during the game.

One of the keys to being successful as a Tropican leader is to align with either the United States or Russia with the help of your diplomatic ministry, one of the first structures you should build as you start your regime.

Choose your ally based on your government. If you have the majority of the population behind you democratically elected reign, then you should be calling the U.S. president for military and financial support and trade.

However, as with Castro, joining up with the USSR is the way to go if you have any type of one-man dictatorship or Communist government.

Another big key to a long stay in office is the happiness of your citizens. If you want to keep the Tropican people under your rule content (and thereby supportive of your reign in office) make sure you always have enough power supply, food, and housing for your people.

This will require constantly checking the info mode to see where you can place structures such as farms and mines. You must anticipate the needs of your citizens and buildings to maximize your popularity and minimize the chance that you will be thrown out of office by your military leaders or by a rebellion.

The game feature to declare edicts gives you the ability to influence your rule either positively or negatively. It all depends on which edict is declared by your office.

Pick an edict that is perceived as negative by your people, such as declaring martial law or initiating prohibition, and you might be forced to fight off a coup de teat or rebel uprising.

These edicts come in handy when an election is approaching if you set up a democratic rule. You can issue an edict to cut taxes, which really helps boost your populationís happiness. Declare a Mardi Gras celebration to provide some much needed entertainment to your citizens and that election is as good as in the bag, El Presidente!

For each year you complete in power, the gameís almanac will pop up and provide you with every piece of information needed to figure out what you are or arenít doing well with your country of Tropico. It details the people, economy and political climate of your rule.

While the manual contains some minor grammatical errors, on the whole it is very informative. There are facts provided for the many Tropican buildings, including how much they cost to construct and other pertinent information. Also provided is an index of the Tropican citizens and where you can expect to find them in their daily routine.

There are details on some of the famous and infamous dictators, rebels, and island rulers of the last century, which helps you when it comes to deciding what kind of qualities, flaws, and governmental rule to set up.

Graphically, the game is very detailed, especially when you zoom in close to the action. The graphics engine is based on PopTopís S3D engine, which gave the developers the ability to create exquisitely detailed 3D graphics and renderings.

Short animated cut-scenes are played for each of your edicts. See the Pope waving to the Tropican throngs gathered when you invite him to your island. Ever wonder if those Elvis-is-alive stories have any merit? Check out who makes an appearance when you hire a headliner for your Tropican nightclub. These cut-scenes offer a minor diversion that can break up the monotony of building more structures on your island.

But things can get very choppy and slow when you have the graphics cranked up or if too many buildings and Tropicans or tourists are on the screen at the same time. Even though you will miss out on the quality of eye-candy Tropico provides, unless you own a killer PC, you might want to turn down the graphic settings if you run into choppy graphical playback.

The music has that Latino flavor that fits the game. Provided mostly by the Latin Music Specialists and Daniel Indart, you might want to pump up the volume and turn the disco light on before doing the salsa in your computer chair.

Sound effects are minimal, which isnít as bad as that statement might seem. If you zoom closer to the action on a structure, there are diverse sounds to be heard. Each building has its own set of audio effects, from the cheering crowd at the stadium to the cracking of electricity in the power plant.

In addition to the manual, PopTop has provided a nice help system, which is under the guise of your "loyal" presidential advisor who voices tips with his South American accent to you throughout the game. His hints usually come in handy, even though he might seem to have his own agenda if the political climate towards your regime on Tropico is a little on the hostile side at the time.

The whole package come together to give you an enjoyable simulation game. With the variation of game options, you can choose to play as little or long as you want. Everything is up to you. If you are a big fan of The Sims and are looking for a little vacation from that game, crack out the margarita mix and sun block before heading on over to the exceptionally good Tropico. May your reign be long and your Swiss bank account large!

Code alert: If you have a presidential slush fund or pulled a "2000 Republican-style" voting scam to hold onto your office, then you might not have any shame in using the following Tropico codes to make presidential rule easier:

pesos: adds $20,000 to your coffers

contento: increases your citizensí happiness by 10%

rapido: builds all structures selected immediately

You also might want to visit PopTopís official web site, http://www.poptop.com and click on the Tropico link to download the Tropico patch and map editor to help you enjoy the game a little bit more.

- Lee Cieniawa

 

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