|Before you freak out, I don't have the Mac version.|
You play as the dictator of a small island in the Caribbean. That pretty much sums it up. When you first begin a map, you pick the traits that flesh out your background, such as how you got to power, your strengths, and your weaknesses. Strengths are pretty straightforward, like Hardworking or Financial Genius, and the weaknesses can be pretty entertaining, although they usually hurt your relationship with different factions. Speaking of factions, onto...
Once again, gameplay is king when it comes to playing games. In this case, Tropico is similar to other city building type sims out there in that you place buildings and try to keep everyone happy, or at least happy enough to not revolt. One interesting feature that shows up more in RTSs than city building games is the real-time construction of buildings. When you place a building it's not actually built right away. You have to wait for your workers to flatten the land and actually construct it.
In order to not lose, you have to maintain a good relationship with the factions. These include the environmentalists, the intellectuals, communists, etc. Obviously it's difficult to get on excellent terms with everyone, so usually I just pick a faction or two and try to convert the majority of people to that faction.
The ultimate goal of the game, besides just avoiding a coup, is to make everyone as happy as possible, with as much money in the treasury as possible, and with the biggest presidential slush fund possible. When you start a map, you can select one or all of these goals and that will affect your score at the end of your time in office, which you can also adjust at the beginning of the game. Adjusting the starting conditions affects your score at the end by multiplying it by a percentage to obtain your final score.
Tropico's graphics are similar to the games in PopTop's other series, Railroad Tycoon, specifically Railroad Tycoon II. That said, they're not bad, but they're not exactly Avatar either. As I've said before, graphics get a free pass from me as long as I can tell what I'm doing in the game.
Tropico uses the mouse along with keyboard shortcuts, like most RTS games. Being able to adjust the speed on the fly means that you don't really need to race the clock in order to win, and can focus on a good building strategy.
I usually don't write about music in my reviews, but I have to at least mention that the Tropico soundtrack is awesome. According to Wikipedia, the game features Latin-styled Dominican music. I'm not entirely sure what that means, but you'll certainly never get bored with it.
I didn't find any bugs during my time playing, and my only real complaint is that building things seems to take quit a long time, even on the very fast speed setting. That's just mean whining though, since it probably does take a long time to build and airport using just some shovels and hammers.
If you've never played Tropico before, I highly suggest it. Especially if you're a fan of city building sims or even RTSs.