Review by tommytcph

"Fun for a little while and then gets boring"

Democracy. It sounds nice. Run a country as president of the United States, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, etc. However, the implementation is flawed and the difficulty (or lack thereof) severely damages any replay value. I will be grading the game in three areas: realism, replay value, and interface.

Realism: 5/10

The realism of the game leaves much to be desired. The primary beef I have is that it simply does not simulate a working nation. It simulates a voting populace, and the voting populace only. There is no supply and demand. Tax rates (other than corporate) rarely affect anything other than the people's opinion of you. For example, if I cut the income tax, the middle class will like me more. The wealthy won't care. The poor won't care. There is no job creation. There is no revenue feedback. If I raise the income tax to a certain point, a disadvantage appears where the wealthy begin to leave the nation occurs. Then a negative revenue feedback occurs and the economy stagnates.

But the affect is unrealistic. The income tax won't hurt the economy until you raise it to a certain point. If you cut fifty million out of it (a tiny amount) just below the rate where brain drain occurs, it doesn't just get slightly better, the entire effect alleviates. It was sloppily done and with perhaps an hour more work it would have gotten more realistic. Second, the populace never grows. If you have child tax incentives, it will say the number of parents are increasing. But the population remains at about eleven million. Baby booms have absolutely no effect on the population. It just makes parents like you more and says their numbers are "increasing". When unemployment explodes, so should the cost of unemployment benefits. But they don't. When a huge amount of the population retires, the cost of pensions should explode. But they don't. They remain firmly at 100 billion.

The only thing that was mildly realistic was the increase in tax revenue after GDP increases. But unemployment can be dealt with by simply implementing government programs and creating government jobs, with the same effect as creating private-sector jobs. Crime collapses after the implementation of one CCTV camera policy. Realism is a real issue in this game.

Replay Value: 3/10

I was addicted to this game. That is, until I figured out the magical formula to success. Enact and max out small business, technology, and rural development grants. This creates an economic boom which leads to a two trillion dollar increase in revenue. This will pay for everything else. Enact import tariffs, and the cheap imports problem immediately goes away with no negative effect. Enact CCTV cameras and crime becomes literally nonexistent. Max out education and health funding and education and lifespan goes to the highest level possible, as if simply throwing more money at a program definitely improves its quality. Max out pensions and the retired will love you.Cut the corporate tax in half. Enact pollution controls, car emissions limits, and clean energy subsidies and solve pollution within two years. Give out free bus passes, create bus lanes, and subsidize buses, and suddenly traffic congestion is eliminated. On top of this, you end up with 700 billion dollar surpluses and pay off the debt in your first term.

The game throws scripted challenges at you like whether to ban gay marriage, whether to raise the minimum wage, etc. Eventually, by about your fourth term, those challenges run out and you do nothing except watch the people reelect you 91-9 over and over. I served 60 terms using this strategy. During 56 of those terms, I did nothing. There is no question what will happen whatever you do. Make the country a utopia in five minutes. This kills the replay value.

Interface: 8/10

The interface is very, very good. You can see immediately where unemployment, crime, air quality is on the main screen. And it isn't cluttered. All the policy icons are neatly arranged into their separate categories. At the bottom are options for new policies, popularity polling, and graphs of your budget. No real problems, and this is the games high point

Conclusion

I'm awarding this a 6/10 because the game is fun for a little while. But it is NOT worth twenty dollars. Play it at a friends house if needbe.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 01/29/09

Game Release: Democracy (US, 04/01/05)


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