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The Political Machine 2008

A change would do you good, said Sheryl Crow, sound advice in the build-up to the US election. Of course, she also mused that we should wipe our arses with one piece of toilet paper to save the planet. If it makes you happy…

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Not much has changed regarding The Political Machine 2008 over its predecessor, save for a new 3D map, bobble-head representations of each candidate and some gameplay tweaks. And yet it’s still rather fun, travelling to each state to give speeches, run advertising campaigns and build campaign infrastructure to preach your policies. Each territory has pre-determined stances, such as California not taking lightly to pro-immigration, so it’s possible to alienate a vast proportion of your voters by leaning too far towards a particular stance.

No matter the campaign chosen you’ll start in your home town with 41 weeks until deadline day, and will have to spend your early days gathering together some political clout to attract donations and TV deals to help promote your party. From there-on-in you’ll have to divide your stamina between fund-raising and promotion, eventually trying to convince each state to vote for you.

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Along the way certain bonuses are hidden away, such as wealthy investors and supportive TV directors who’ll give you an advertising opportunity for half the price. Sadly, the new 3D map, whilst an improvement on its predecessor, becomes cluttered the more you advance towards judgement day. It’s not easy to differentiate between party employees working in a city and current advertising campaigns, nor is it simple to see just what services you’ve taken up to promote your well-being across the nation.

The race to the finishing line is a frantic one, and the AI won’t make it easy for you, despite some ill-fated trips to states already won over to your side to try and tempt them back, and the sudden lucky discovery of a wealthy backer just as you begin to tip the scales in your favour. Some states will keep their cards held tightly to their chests right until the final moments, but in general there just isn’t enough variety in each play-through. Luckily then that several scenarios offering previous elections right up to the late 1800’s as well as fantasy countries feature alongside the main quest, offering states and territories with vastly different views to that of the present day.

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It’s an interesting concept given the competition, although The Political Machine 2008 isn’t billed as a simulator, and will certainly entertain those tempted by the lower price point. You’ve a solid game that, whilst incredibly similar to its forerunner, brings the series up to date, especially in such a historic US election. Just don’t expect too much deviation as every play-through is anything but a winding road.

7 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in June 2002.

Gentle persuasion

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