The Political Machine 2008 Review
By Ned Jordan
The Political Machine 2008 gives you the chance to take on the role of a presidential candidate on the campaign trail. Getting elected president is no easy task, but The Political Machine 2008 does a nice job of abstracting the process to the point where it can be simulated by a board game. In a typical game, you select a candidate from among the pre-primary hopefuls of both parties and begin the game 41 weeks (one week equals one turn here) before Election Day. The game board consists of a map of the US and each turn you are given a limited number of stamina points that can be used to move your candidate between states and perform actions in those states. Actions include giving speeches, holding fund raisers, and launching ad campaigns.
As in the real world, running a successful campaign depends on effectively managing your limited resources. Cash is generated by attending fund raisers, but these eat up precious time that could be spent persuading people to vote for you. However, without cash you won't be able to establish campaign headquarters or even to afford to fly from one state to another. Campaign headquarters cost a lot of money, but without them you won't be able to generate the political clout you need to hire consultants or win endorsements. And then there are the states themselves – you can't spend your time in all of them, so you need to decide which battleground states you can take and which states you have a chance to steal from your opponent. Of course, you'll also need to keep an eye on your opponent so that he or she doesn't steal a state that you thought you had in your back pocket.
The Political Machine 2008 is one of those games that's fun for a bit, but then begins to grow repetitive. The problem here is twofold. First, the road to the White House is a well–worn path; you'll need to approach each game in pretty much the same way. There's no room here for trying out radically different strategies or approaches. Second, the game's level of abstraction is so high that it alleviates the need to make any hard decisions. You can spend all of your time making speeches that you're against high gas prices and terrorism and keep all of the voters happy. The game does try to inject some variety into the play by including scenarios based on historic elections and alternate maps set in Europe and on an alien planet, but the novelty of these variants doesn't last very long.
The Political Machine 2008 is more like a board game than a computer game, and those looking for a sophisticated simulation are likely to be disappointed. Those who like to keep their games on the simple side, or who enjoy returning time and again to classic board games, like Monopoly, will get more enjoyment from this game. It can also make for a good learning tool for kids who are beginning to learn about civics and our government. And if your candidate loses on November 4th, you can always use it to try and change history more to your liking.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 70%. The Political Machine 2008 is best suited to those in the board game crowd with a decided interest in politics.