Friday, November 7, 2003

Smart, Practical, Personal.

Ten for X Utilities: Volume 2


EasyShare DX6340

Radeon 9800 Pro

PowerLite S1

Freeway Express

SuperScrubber 1.1

C-740 Ultra Zoom

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003

SimCity 4



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A Must Have Utility


A unique strategy game, Tropico lets you rule a Caribbean island however you please. With cold-war era pressures, you can build a paradise of freedom, or keep a tight rule on your people with a loyal army. Tropico puts the city-building genre in a new locale, and its premise and gameplay make it work. Because of this new direction, Tropico is a strong enough strategy game to like in spite of its sometimes-buggy play and potentially repetitive action.

Overhead 3D perspectives let you rule your island. The different gameplay goals usually require you to stay in power a certain amount of time, make a certain amount of money, and even embezzle a certain amount for storage in your untouchable Swiss bank account. Direct your people to build farms, cigar factories, and other industries to make money, and keep them happy with churches, nightclubs, and schools. Each citizen has its own thoughts that you can monitor, and they decide where to go and what to do. Some of the interest of the game comes from balancing your needs and their desires; if they get too upset, they’ll revolt and drive you into exile.

Some bugs keep Tropico from being a near-perfect game. If it doesn’t have enough memory, increasing the quality of the graphics will crash the game. And after long sessions, the time it takes to react to mouse clicks increases. Mac OS X support is a boon, however; you may see fewer problems than in Mac OS 9.

While Tropico has a unique premise, and gameplay choices give different styles and objectives for rule, it has the potential to become repetitive. Even with that chance and some bugs, Tropico is a banana republic strategy to relish. What other city-builder lets you make alliances with Russia or enact martial law?

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