The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
My affection for Tropico 3’s flavor of campy economic simulation is
no secret; the PC version has held me entranced for months (read my
review here). I’m happy to report that the delayed
Xbox 360 port is nearly as good, and gives console players a chance to
dig into a genre that traditionally hasn’t had much of a presence
beyond the PC universe.
As El Presidente of a small country in
the Caribbean, players have to juggle several factors as they try to
develop their impoverished island into a viable economy through
commissioning buildings, setting tax rates, issuing edicts, and the
like. The several factions of your people (capitalists, religious folk,
nationalists, etc.) must be mollified lest they vote against you or
even rebel. The U.S. and U.S.S.R. are all too interested in poking
their superpowered noses into your business, so you have to take their
wants into account. Of course, the national treasury is an ever-present
concern as well. Keeping all of these balls in the air lends constant
challenge and tension to the gameplay, and effectively has me glued to
my island for hours at a time.
The campaign offers dozens (if not
hundreds) of hours of playtime in scripted scenarios that twist the
basic formula in entertaining ways. One might give you dozens of
unskilled refugee immigrants, while another has you choosing whether to
let a superpower buy the rights to build an army base on your island.
Each mission has specific goals, timeframes, and challenges. Developing
ways to cope with the frequent curveballs thrown at you is half the fun.
mode in Tropico 3 is less compelling. Once the money is flowing in from
a stable, advanced economy, your problems are simple to buy your way
out of. It’s amusing enough to build a functioning city, but the
challenge and rewards just aren’t there.
A solid interface makes
this Xbox 360 port a reasonable – though not ideal – way to play
Tropico 3. A few uncommon actions, like setting worker wages and hiring
foreign specialists, are noticeably harder on a gamepad. Other than
that, there’s very little between you and the amusement of having your
own private banana republic.