First Shot: Tropico 3 - Absolute Power
Oh Tropico 3, I've missed you. I bought the game on a whim some months back, after almost writing the city-building genre off for good. Games like 1701 A.D. and CivCity Rome had slowly worn away at my patience for the hard and fast rule-following that was required to be success. 1701 went so far as to enforce a strict radius for service buildings, such that a homeowner on a given block would receive the full benefits of say, a school, while his next-door neighbor would be completely bereft of education. It was nonsense like that that made me think the genre was pretty much done.
Upon trying to demo of Tropico 3, I knew I had to buy it. There are no hard boundaries, no arbitrary rules. You simply build what you want and see what works. Sure the game has internal logic such that some approaches work better than others, but it's always your game, your city, not the paint-by-numbers affair of other city-builders.
The expansion pack Absolute Power promises to add a new campaign (10 islands), more service buildings and tourist attractions, and a slew of refinements across the board. Today, I built my first elementary school and instituted "obedience training" as the curriculum.
That's right ya little brats! Worship your dear leader!