| |

The Political Machine 2008 Review

Disclosure: We may earn a commission from links on this page

Developer: Stardock Publisher: Stardock
Release Date: June 24, 2008 Also On: None

Four years ago, political junkies everywhere when crazy for this new game from Stardock, arguably one of the best strategy developers around. It’s name was The Political Machine and it was a first of its kind type game. Using polling, voter patterns and general board game type gameplay, The Political Machine was a basic simulation of the American electoral system. Your only goal: to get elected President of the United States.

The Political Machine 2008 does not change much from the first. In fact, I can’t point to any actual gameplay changes that they made. What I did notice was that there are namely a new set of characters: the presidential candidates from 2008. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain and Mitt Romney stand beside former presidents and presidential candidates alike, including the serious contenders in 2004 – John Kerry and George W. Bush.

What The Political Machine 2008 lacks that I would have liked to have seen is the addition of a primary system. This almost seems incomprehensible now that we just witnessed one of the most historic primary campaigns in history between Hillary and Obama. That said, there are a few new things that they added which make up for the lack of content addition in this area, although I would have preferred a multi-candidate primary campaign.

Aside from the traditional 41 week campaign (you can shorten or lengthen it if you like), there are also a few different scenarios to choose from. You can play in the 1860 election with all of the issues facing the country at that point in time. There is also the option to face off in a European election, which ironically still uses the Electoral College as a means to getting elected. Finally, there is an alien race known as the Drengin. The goals are all the same (win) but the issues vary and so do the states.

In terms of actually winning an election, you will need to split the electoral map into winnable and unwinnable states and go from there by building a campaign infrastructure in individual battleground states. This includes a headquarters, outreach center, etc. to increase your name recognition and political capital (which can be used for endorsements). Half of winning an election is voters knowing your name and the other half is defining yourself before your opponent does.

The most successful campaign will hone in on states with large electoral blocs like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida that are always battleground states as opposed to spending heavily in Democratic leaning states (California, New York, Massachusetts) or Republican leaning states (South Carolina, Alabama, Utah). You can invest in the campaign infrastructure, but that only does so much. You will need to give speeches on issues that matter to that state’s voters, spend money on television, newspaper and radio advertising, as well as hire political operatives to drive up an opponent’s negatives or increasing your name recognition in a given state.

The Political Machine 2008 is the best electoral simulation that you will find. Anyone studying Political Science should be required to play this game. Yet there is not a big difference between 2004 and 2008 in terms of gameplay mechanics other than it seems more balanced. The issues have changed to gas prices and the economy more so than the war and social issues like gay marriage. The candidate roster is updated to include the likes of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, while offering former presidents like Ulysses S. Grant and Jimmy Carter.

Whether you are a political novice or an up-and-coming Karl Rove, The Political Machine 2008 is a fantastic simulation of how we elect a president. Returning customers from the 2004 edition should think twice, since not much has changed, but for the $20 price tag you can’t really go wrong anyway. Besides, there’s nothing like watching an election night where all of America goes blue. Only in a video game.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 7.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 7.5
Written by Kyle Review Guide