Tropico 3: Absolute Power Review

By Morgan Webb - Posted Aug 16, 2010

The Absolute Power expansion pack to Tropico 3 offers new edicts, new building types, and new missions to the enjoyable original, but it does not offer enough new content to make it a must buy for anyone but the Tropico aficionado.

The Pros
  • New building types and edicts help address social issues
  • Additional tutorial helps a new player get up to speed
  • New missions are creative and challenging
The Cons
  • Not very much additional content for the money
  • A must buy only for those who play the original extensively
  • Small unit tweaks and additions are nice to have but not essential

For those unfamiliar with Tropico 3, it is a city building and management simulator, not unlike Sim City, that takes place during and after the Cold War. You rule an island nation and must see to every intricacy of the economy in order to make your people happy - or at the very least prevent them from assassinating you in violent rebellion. You will need to set wages, provide adequate housing, manufacture exportable goods, and even suppress rebellions from a number of different factions. You can’t make all of the factions happy all of the time, so you do your best to keep your people toiling for the good of the party, unplagued by any thoughts of open rebellion. The Absolute Power expansion pack adds a number of new buildings and edicts that will help you in your quest for survival, and offers 10 creative new missions where you can test out your expanded skillset.



Power to the People!

One of the most useful new units is the wind turbine. These low footprint buildings can be placed most anywhere on your island and provide power to the surrounding area. They are incredibly useful because they are a fast power solution that doesn’t pollute, but their high upkeep costs will smart if the player gets too enamored of green power. Another pollution fighter is the garbage dump, which can clear a great deal of trash from a city and localizes it into one putrid pile that is hopefully kept out of sight of the tourists. If you’re feeling a little jealous of Kim Jong-il’s security, you can start up a nuclear program of your very own, which helps keep those pesky invading powers at bay. Some other new building types entertain tourists, some indoctrinate the youth, and some can even search for aliens. While these buildings are all nice to have, none of them change the essential strategy of the game. There are also a number of new edicts, such as Print Money, which gives a quick injection of cash into your economy at the cost of permanent inflation. The new edicts don’t add much content, though again, they are nice to have. An additional faction, the Loyalists, also makes an appearance, and they provide an added player goal. Certain actions, programs, and statues can increase the population of your most ardent supporters, and the more of these people you can indoctrinate the more successful your reign.

This is an advertisement - This story continues below

You know what Amin?

There are 10 new missions in the expansion, and their specific objectives help the player learn about certain building types and objectives. The first mission has you satisfying a party-hungry populace with reggae festivals and water pipes, and your success is measured by the overall happiness of the population. You learn about the entertainment facilities available, and you gain an understanding of how to evaluate and raise average happiness. In the next mission, your resource-poor island must build a thriving tourist industry in order to survive, but don’t forget to pay attention to agriculture or some of your beloved citizens may not show up for work because they’re too busy starving to death (not that this happened to me, I mean, I love my citizens, some of them just died too fashionably skinny? Yeah...that’s it...). The missions are more creative in the expansion than they were in the original, and they are not quick wins - you will likely restart some that you’ve blown, and you may even re-play some victories in order to hone your skills. The included missions are fun and challenging, however, since the original game offered you the ability to create any type of mission in the challenge mode, as well as the ability to download challenges from the online community, this new content isn’t as essential as it may seem.

One very welcome addition is an advanced tutorial. It helps you understand a few nuances of the complicated statistical information provided, and is an essential for any Tropico player. A complaint of Tropico 3 was that it did not provide the player much help in their quest for absolute domination, so the advanced tutorial is a small but welcome attempt to remedy the problem. With or without the expansion pack however, a careful study of the manual is necessary before one will be able to master the vagaries of maintaining power.




While the new content is nice to have, it is not a game changer. It does make the game a bit more accessible to the new player but it is hard to justify the cost of entry. This is a good purchase for those who have played a great deal of Tropico 3 and are looking for a refresh, but for the more casual player, $20 feels a bit pricey for the small amount of content you receive. Tropico 3 is a fun game that can be found between $20 and $30, and there is no need to purchase the expansion to experience most of what the game has to offer. However, if Tropico 3 is already a staple of your gaming diet, you will enjoy the small additions and improvements found in the Absolute Power expansion. It's a good time, just not necessarily worth the full price of admission.