Tropico does one thing, that no other game I can think of has ever done. Nearly all games take place in one of three environments. Either space marines are fighting alien scum, medieval knights are fighting monster scum, or in the case of a modern-era game, the UN has launched a war, or you're aimlessly flying around (or cruising around) fighting Russian scum. That sort of makes for a dull series of games after some time. Tropico takes place on an island that is sort of a cross between Cuba, and Puerto Rico. It has the culture and tourist appearance of Puerto Rico, but it has you, the evil (or good) dictator, and the military structure of Cuba.
On an engine level, Tropico is unlike any building game of it's time. It is a purely 3D engine. It supports hardware D3D, or a software rendering engine, which provides for a very nice visual experience (here's the odd part, though. It is a 2D game written around *DirectX-7* using a 3D method. The game programmers among us should sense the irony here.)
The game features (too few if you ask me) some pre-designed maps in which you must meet special requirements, or, in classing building game style, you can play randomly generated maps. Your usual goal is to develop an island where your people can live happily, eat well, have decent housing, be entertained, have good healthcare and religeous considerations, work close to home, have a good environment, and meanwhile, have a booming economy, possibly build a tourist trap (or factory production paradise), and still have some money left to stash into your Swiss bank account. Sound overwhelming? It's only a day's work in the life of a great dictator.
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