It’s been difficult for me over the last few weeks to come up with the words that I want to say in regards to the latest game to find its way onto my hard drive, Democracy 2. It isn’t that I find the subject matter to be particularly difficult to write about. My problem is that I’ve already written most of what I want to say in my review of the first game in this series, Democracy, which I played and reviewed nearly a month ago. Democracy 2 makes some changes to the established design of the original game, but the core of the game is exactly the same.
Democracy 2 challenges you, the player, to build up a nation by determining the political policies that you feel will make your nation the most powerful country on Earth. Some may choose to heavily invest in their military. Others may choose to spend tax revenues to support an expansive welfare state. But, just like in real life, as a politician, you’re going to have supporters and detractors at every turn, and it’s your job to not only to fix the problems currently facing your nation, but also balance your constituents in order to secure re-election and/or to keep yourself from being assassinated.
Improvements from the first game are mostly aesthetic, though a few additions have been worked in behind the scenes. For starters, you no longer rule real-world countries and instead have to choose from fictional countries with real-world problems to solve. You can choose debt-ridden states with limited economic prospects for a challenging game, or you can choose to lead already established countries with economic advantages. You can run a socialist country or a monarchy, though the results are mostly the same. This adds a new dynamic to the game, since before all the states included in the package felt mostly the same. It also adds new challenges to the game that were sorely lacking in the original, which improves the shelf life.
Outside of these new scenarios, the game plays almost identically to the previous game. You choose policies for your country and determine the attention those policies are going to get by adjusting how much money is going into the program. If your people are complaining about traffic, you have the options of putting money into new road construction, developing a state-supported bus system, or building a rail infrastructure. If you’re technologically lagging, you can invest your money into technology schools. At first, there are lots of options to choose from. Watching your policies play out as this turn-based strategy game progresses through your reign can be very nerve racking and actually exciting.
But, just like in Democracy, there just isn’t enough here. This game is incredibly intriguing for a few times through, but once you’ve got the system down, there’s really not much more to it. The fact that you cannot control your foreign policy is an incredibly sore omission. The developers did make some steps to add some international elements to the game, but tariffs and global economic volatility aren’t enough. There are also still issues with promising things to your electorate when being re-elected. You’re asked to choose two policies that you will change, but sometimes, you just can’t do much, particularly during the end of the game (when term limits kick in). You’re also given a team of cabinet members, but they’re practically useless and only help you in terms of how many things you can do per turn, and don’t really advise you all that much.
In order to be a better product, Democracy 2 needs to be bigger. As it stands, this is still a series content on being a basic political simulator and in that regard, it is successful. While the game is intriguing and addictive at first, it fades too fast because there isn’t that much substance to it. While the look of the game has been updated, the core of the game remains the same and that’s a disappointment.