Monday, 8 December 2014

Tropico 3, How to be a Dictator

These past couple of days I played a fair bit of Tropico 3. Reason being this city building game was collecting dust for quite some time in my Steam Library, and I felt what could only be described as despotic urges bubbling deep inside me. As I always believed in the concept of benevolent tyrant I decided to test out my theory. To be fair, even ancient history of Rome shows us that it is possible to have one man in charge of the state for troubling period and that such a man would return the power back to the people when danger passed. After all, this is where the term dictator comes from. So with that in mind I decided to rule over the people with their own interests in mind, and become something alike second father to them all.

I have heard all possible horror stories from my friend who is playing Tropico 4. I should probably clarify that all those horror stories are of his own doing. He actually aims to eliminate all dissenters, get rid of all religious people and so on. At times I want to believe those are just stories to stir a reaction in me. First I wanted to see how everything works, and learn the mechanics. I used the campaign mode for that. After the lesson was over, I would go and rule my own tropical island for next fifty years. It is how I usually approach these things, first trial by fire where you either do or die, and then when you are familiar with everything, you can play as you want.

I created El Presidente after my own image, took traits that exaggerated my own personality and started the game on a small island I do not recall the name of any more. We could call it Astalnaria. The island was rich in resources. But before we could really start exploiting what nature gave at our disposal I had to take care of the factions and needs of the people. My initial plan, before I really understood how factions worked in Tropico was to pay attention to religious, capitalists, intellectuals, and if need be nationalists. It seemed like a solid plan. Especially since I was not really in any hurry to go bankrupt on the account of the people or the military.

First couple of years were difficult. We had assassination attempts left and right, but in my wisdom I always decided just to calm the spirits of the people and continue with my plan. I am told there is a separate Swiss banking account for El Presidente, but I did not have it because of my Incorruptible trait. And by God is that trait worth its weight in gold. All to the end of the game in year 2000 I did not have any reason or need to build a prison. A small police station was all I required to keep crime at the bare minimum.

As I wanted to start exploiting oil I tried to build a college as soon as possible. All education in high school, and college was set to Parochial, meaning that students were more likely to become religious which was fine by me. More religious people I thought, meant less militarists, and communists. All in all, parochial education did not hurt anyone, I would argue it did more good actually, as I am pretty sure this is one of the reasons of how I got reelected five times in a row with 85% or higher support without doing anything to actually disrupt the democratic flow of the elections. I am afraid I might have set the bar quite high for me successor.

My greatest threat in all this time was the US. Especially in the December of 1953. It took couple of tries before I was able to avoid the invasion. For some strange reason, Americans saw me as a communist threat. Workers on strike, and the assassins trying to kill me would disagree, but eventually I figured that Americans just crave the attention. In order to give them what was due I built an embassy, and praised them to no end. Soviets were not happy, but then again, I did not have Soviets knocking on my doors, and I was adamant at staying neutral. After that was done my hands were free. I still had occasional problems with the economy until I started exporting oil, but after that things went for the better.

Because all of a sudden I had more money than I could ever spend, that meant we could diversify the industry and focus on high cost exports, and not just resources. After that was done, and economic crisis was about to hit, I started to work on the tourism. And because there was enough money I was able to build higher end apartments, and actually charge higher rents because I raised the pays of all workers, so they could actually afford everything.

And this is when all the factions became really happy with me. Except the militarists. They wanted stronger military, I did not want military. But because I gave them armoury they were content. It seems the lesson of Tropico is that money does solve all your problems. And once you have enough money, you can make everyone happy. You can take care of pollution, you can ensure better living standards, higher pay, better services, money seems to be the key to the solution of every problem you ever had in Tropico.

Tropico 3 is a great game, but I do have some problems with it. For starters the factions. I find this concept that they all have their own separate set of goals and ideals that never bother any other faction a bit troubling. It makes things too easy once the money starts flowing in. It would be much better if the factions had different takes on the same problems. I would like to see some actually opposition among the factions beyond them just not caring for certain fields. They could make triangles of power with all the factions, which would lead to interesting shifts in power. Some might strongly support a certain reform, others would be mild supporters, some might be neutral about it while some might be against it entirely. This way politics would come much more into play than it currently does.

Next thing is distribution of workers, I do not know if the developers changed this in the next two instalments, but it annoys me to no end when I have 3 different construction companies and they still build with all the chaos and time waste there is. I would like to be able to designate to each company which building to build. There is not enough to micromanage. I could build three different buildings at the same time, but because of how chaotic the game is, I am able to build only one. This inefficiency is a great pain once you figure out everything.

All in all, Tropico 3 is a solid game in which you will be able to bring your inner dictator to life. The music is great and Juanito, who reads all the announcements over the radio is without equal. So enjoy your little adventure on a tropical island, and try to do some good while you fill up your private Swiss bank account.

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