The Political Machine 2016 was developed and published by Stardock Entertainment. It was released to Steam early access on November 17th, 2015 for $9.99. A review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels.
The Political Machine 2016 is a turn based strategy simulation game where you attempt to become the U.S. President or win the election for your candidate. The game has a sliding scale for difficulty during single player games and also offers online multiplayer election battles. It’s a tidy and fun little game about the election process and it’s pretty fun considering the subject matter can at times be very boring.
What I enjoyed:
Time is of the essence – You can set the length of your games to be very quick or extremely long and drawn out. I really enjoy when I can play a quick game of something but also have the option to sit down for a lengthy campaign. This was one of the first things that I noted as a real plus since people with busy schedules can get a quick game in on a weeknight; but then spend a rainy weekend day playing a few hour campaign.
Topical relevance – The topics in the game aren’t thing’s like “my opponent prefers orange juice and I am the apple juice candidate”. They are “fighting ISIS” and “legalizing marijuana” or other very current hot button issues. I found this to be refreshing as many developers stay away from any issue that might raise feathers. This covers the entire political gamut and seems like a relatively balanced and good set of reactions from each State and it’s populous.
Education funding – It’s a good thing to bring attention to the political process, as voter turnout is a real issue and most people are inherently sick of politicians in general. There isn’t really a good one answer to most National problems. They are multi-lateral and require deep thought and consideration. That being said, anything that brings attention to the process is good and people participating in the elections of their leadership is a right more citizens should take advantage of. A game about that process is positive, this game is quite educational in terms of the basic process and overall understanding of electoral votes, and most of all, MONEY.
What I disliked:
Vague plan – I know spending more time with the game would solve some of my planning woes but I felt like there was very little guidance in terms of a full plan based on what was happening on the map. That is one aspect where I felt there could be some improvement but ultimately playing the game more should lead to better results over time.
Repeating myself – The best option was and continually seemed to be talking about fighting ISIS. The developers may have a keen sense of just how much fear seems to dictate behavior and more so seemingly in the U.S. This was an area where I felt torn because I want to win but don’t think that Bernie Sanders would use that to hammer home his point. The bit about taking on wall street and big corporations whom dodge taxes would be my platform for him but it seemed unavailable.
Simulation games can often be boring or have aspects that are very mundane. I found The Political Machine 2016 to be very fun and fast paced especially considering the subject matter. I really enjoy that they game makes clear how important raising money is and how much time political candidates waste on just getting money to keep trying to be the next president. It’s a solid experience and has some educational value. It’s also pretty darn fun to run a political campaign with your candidate of choice or even yourself.
Score: Buy it now