With the US election coming up I felt that maybe this would be a great time to review this game. I have only played it a couple of times but this is a pretty fun game. There are some things that are missing that I find a bit shocking but, I’ll get into that more later.
The game starts out with you choosing who you are. You can run as Hillary Clinton, Warren Buffet, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, and even historical figures like Abraham Lincoln and JFK. For some reason, you can also run as Bill Clinton which makes no sense as he’s already been elected twice and legally can’t be elected again but, let’s not let laws and logic ruin the game. I mean, you can actually run as, or against, zombie Lincoln or zombie JFK so it’s best to not poke too many holes in this reality.
I decided to go as…. ME! You can create a custom you and even choose your attributes like money, fund raising, appeal, and etc just like an RPG like game similar to that of Fallout. You then choose hairstyles, eyebrows, glasses, hats, and other accessories as well as the colors of your outfit. I went full ‘Murica to appeal to the mindless masses… err, i mean, voters. Mindless voters. My opponent? None other than the golden boy himself (in both money and skin color) Donald Trump himself. I wanted to keep this as realistic as possible (just, ignore the zombie JFK and Lincoln again) so I went as a Democrat as you can only choose between Republican or Democrat. This is the first failure of the game. It’s only 1 of 2 but the two are huge and this is certainly a big one. You can’t run as an Independent. You can appeal to them in game, but you aren’t allowed to run as an Independent. What this says to me is either A.) They wanted to keep the game simple or B.) Zombie Lincoln has a better chance to be re-elected than an Independent candidate.
In the starting options when creating a new game you have a few options. The length from 21 weeks to 52 (a full year), 50% to 200% starting funds and cakewalk (super easy) to masochist (super hard). You can also choose to randomize the state populations, wealth, demographics, issue importance, and even disable Random events. I was trying to go for as realistic of a game as possible so i went with 26 weeks, 100% funds, and left everything non-randomized. This makes it a bit easier without the randomization since I am pretty aware of the US politics that I know where I should be campaigning. 26 weeks made for a pretty short game in that it took about 15 minutes to play. This was with a lot of pauses to read and learn about the game too so you could probably do this under 10 easily if you know the ins and outs already.
The point of the game however is to get votes and that’s where the game excels. You have to travel state to state and run ads, give speeches, raise funds, open headquarters, outreach centers, and you can even hire operatives. You build headquarters in a state to raise awareness and money, Consulting offices to raise PR points to hire operatives, and outreach centers to build political clout to get endorsements from organizations vital in winning the election. You can upgrade these as well to increase their effectiveness.
This all comes together to make for a pretty challenging game as you have to keep your eye on your national approval rating and ratings in each state. There are “battleground states” that you can try to win over, and some that you’re just destined to lose and some you can’t really lose unless you try. It’s important to notice which are a lost cause and which are worth fighting for as each has their own electoral votes. Don’t fight for Hawaii that has only 4 votes when California can get you 56. You will eventually choose a running mate that will also help bolster numbers in states they are in as well as surrounding states.
Now for the huge glaring omission from this game that honestly takes this from a strong 9 to a “meh” 7. There are NO Presidential debates. Yeah, the thing that is probably the most important in politics across all countries, is missing from the game. Why this isn’t in the game, is beyond me and seems downright stupid to not include. I really was waiting the whole time for a debate to happen but it never did. I looked up online to see if maybe I didn’t play a long enough game and nope. They just didn’t put them in the game. The Race for the White House has this in the game and has since 2012 edition. It is much more in depth than this one but, it doesn’t seem that hard to implement.
Overall, this was still a pretty enjoyable game. There is still a lot to be done in this game and I think it’s easily approachable by someone even if not familiar with US politics in general. The pop-up hints are great and really tell you the information you need to know. I had it on a pretty easy mode so I was able to recover after realizing I was playing the game wrong. So on the easier settings it allows you some room to mess up without it being too harsh in the long run.
So should you buy this? That depends on if you like strategy, turn-based, games and/or if you’re interested in US Politics. If either of those interest you, certainly should get this. If not you can pass but, I still think you might find it fun. Worse case scenario you learn about some of the real issues in the US and some geography too.
So, uh, how did I do against Trump? Well, I think this speaks for itself.