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Tropico 3: Absolute Power
The reboot of the old Tropico games has been one of the most successful and enjoyable resurrections of any franchise. Tropico 3 went back to the core of what made the original game so much fun, offering up a challenging building management sim with a delicious satirical overlay. You can check out my full Tropico 3 review for more on that.
Here we take a look at the first full expansion pack for the game – Tropico 3: Absolute Power. This hefty expansion invites you to resume the role of El Presidente for an all new series of adventures. Unlike many expansions, seeking to squeeze every drop of cash and goodwill out of fans, this expansion actually offers a whole range of improvements and a lot of new content.
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For addicts and fans of Tropico 3 the expansion will be easy to pick up. The central gameplay concept of guiding your dictator through the Cold War remains and you can adopt more or less the same strategies you did in the original. There are some new building options and edicts and a few additions to smooth out the gameplay. Most importantly there is an all new 10 mission campaign and it is imaginative and immersive offering up a fresh challenge for players.
The developer has let loose with the whacky ideas in this new campaign and you’ll find yourself engaged in all kinds of bizarre plots from pretending your island plays home to a monster to setting up an X-Files style investigation unit. The objectives you have to reach in order to complete levels are more focussed and the greater sense of a story is a welcome addition. It works tremendously well for people who have already played through the original game and want something a bit different.
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As well as the all new campaign there are some very nice subtle improvements to the interface. There are a few extra options but more importantly the information is far clearer than before and you can see at a glance what needs to be done. There are more hints and this leads to a lot less guesswork and a much smoother experience.
Factions in particular are easier to manage than before and you are presented with specific demands to keep each group happy. The trouble is they tend to disagree about everything, so while a new building will please one faction it is liable to anger another. Juggling these groups is part of the challenge and you have to be careful because ignoring a faction for too long can lead to disaster.
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Building a Tropical Paradise
Part of the new package offered by Tropico 3: Absolute Power is a smattering of new buildings and landmarks. There are plenty of new options to keep those fickle tourist dollars rolling in including a marina and a Ferris wheel. You’ll also now have to deal with your rubbish and you can even import garbage from elsewhere for a fee of course. The recycling options are pricey but will help to keep your greener citizens from rising up in arms. You have more educational and healthcare options too.
In addition to the new buildings there are tweaks for older structures and the most welcome is a new, smaller version of the garage which was unnecessarily huge in Tropico 3. Continuing the green theme you can also use wind turbines instead of power plants but you’ll need to place them carefully to get maximum benefit. If you prefer a militaristic approach to dictatorship you’ll be excited by the prospect of a weapons factory.
Apart from the functional buildings you can also construct landmarks to give your empire a sense of grandeur. This also helps to give your cities a greater sense of individuality and the towering Jesus Christ, modelled on Rio’s famous statue is particularly enticing. You can even build a golden statue of yourself.
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There are ten new Edicts to play with and they offer some great opportunities to fine tune your society. The ability to outlaw a faction is great and you can also cosy up to the communists or the capitalists with options like free housing and privatized industry. You can have a national holiday complete with fireworks display and you can print your own money for a quick cash injection but it will cause inflation. Best of all is the ability to kill your smug advisor Juanito.
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Graphics and Sound
Visually speaking the game looks much the same but there is a nice new intro movie and all of the new content looks great and keeps in tune with the theme. While Juanito is back chipping in with suggestions you’ll also enjoy a new voice in the shape of Betty Boom. This opinionated revolutionary gives a different point of view as she slates your attempts to create a healthy and profitable society. She provides a nice counterbalance to Juanito’s toadying.
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All in all Tropico 3: Absolute Power is an excellent expansion and well worth investing in for fans of the game. It combines a few refinements with some great new content to improve on all aspects of the original game.