Developer: PopTop Software
Publisher: Gathering Of Developers
Tropico official page: http://tropico.godgames.com/
Flooding the market
This has been a busy year for Caribbean Dictator Simulators. Does the market have room for one more? I'm pretty sure Tropico can squeeze in there. Hell it may even float to the top of this over-crowded genre.
Joking aside, Tropico fits squarely in the city/empire simulation genre. PopTop Software, makers of Railroad Tycoon II spices up the Sim genre by throwing a Caribbean flavor into the mix. No more cookie-cutter cities or amusement parks. Tropico is all about style - Bananas, Stogies, and a little Mambo.
The money shot
What the hell is this about?
It's 1950 and you're the new dictator of Tropico, a small Caribbean island. It's your job to take your country out of farm fields and fishing boats and into the 21st century. Your predecessor didn't do so well in your job and only lasted a few years. There's no story in Tropico; the game is too open ended for that. You decide your fate.
All of the gameplay of Tropico is basically a sandbox (playing the game like a toy - with no goals other than seeing what you can do or get away with). There's no single player campaign. How the game plays out is up to you. First you decide the size, elevation, vegetation, political stability, and population of your island. Then you choose the winning conditions - make your country a tourist trap, or a economic powerhouse, or embezzle millions of dollars to your private Swiss bank account. Finally you choose what type of dictator you are, from Manuel Noreiga to Eva "Evita" Peron to Lou Bega (yes the one-hit wonder). You can customize your dictator attributes if you feel like pissing off the Americans like Mao Zedong or you're into Cigars like Castro.
People milling about
Children playing in
a tobacco field
If you don't like sandboxing all the time there are scenarios you can play. They throw you in situations like rebuilding after an earthquake or flooding the market with cigars. The gameplay is the same in the scenarios however - sandbox until you meet your goals. You can't setup the island or your dictator prowess in scenarios since these factors make up the scenario itself.