Sep 24, 2012

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The Political Machine 2012 Review

The Political Machine 2012 Review

Election Day is quickly approaching and most of us who are able to vote possibly think that we can do a better job in office than the current President. For the couch candidates, The Political Machine 2012 provides an opportunity for you to put your campaigning skills to the test. The path to getting to the Oval Office is just as much work as being the President. Has Stardock Entertainment captured the feel of racing against another opponent in hopes to gain the nation’s trust and votes?

Your goal in The Political Machine 2012 is to run for President and hopefully win. You have a wide array of candidates to choose from and even the ability to create one in your likeness. Whomever you don’t choose to run as can be used to run against you. The number of candidates to choose from is huge and ranges from Obama to Ron Paul. You can run your campaign either the good old honest way or slander your opponent’s reputation.

From the start, you get a good deal of options for setting up a game. The length of a campaign can range from 21 weeks for those who want to get a somewhat quick game in to an epic 121 weeks. You also can adjust your starting funds and difficulty to fit your skill level. The less money you have at start up can prove to be a major factor in how well your campaign begins. There are 11 unique difficulties that include cakewalk (the easiest setting) all the way to masochist for those who want a challenge. On the normal setting, things aren’t too tough for beginners but it still offers enough challenge for those who have played other entries. Another option given to players is the ability to randomize state population, wealth, demographics, and issue importance.


It is once your campaign starts that you get to experience the meat of the game. Each state has its own set of votes you’ll want to be cast for you and topics that are very important to the population. Travelling between states not only cost money but a small portion of your stamina. Stamina is used to also give speeches and create ads. These two key actions that you will need to utilize aren’t only used to boost your popularity but can be used to slander your opponent. Awareness is gained in that fashion along with building a headquarter or outreach building. Fund raising is vital for when your campaign funds get low. Location is key when you decide to raise money as some states are richer than others. Where you might only get $20,000 from a fundraising party in South Carolina, you could see up to ten times as much had you flown across the nation to California.

While you are traversing the nation with hopes to boost your popularity, your opponent is doing the same. When both run out of stamina, you then click to progress to the next week. This turn-based way of campaigning does offer some challenge. Do you wait for your opponent to use up all their stamina in hopes to do some damage control? Or do you try to get all the politicking done with as soon as possible? There is no real wrong way to do it though the longer your campaign lasts, the more you will have to put some thought into which states you need to visit and what issues to tackle.

Don’t expect to find a realistic feel with the character models. Each candidate, established and created, resemble a cartoonish version of a bobble-head. The Political Machine 2012 is bright, colorful, and simple. Simple works as there is no real need for the screen to be cluttered as you travel. It’s easy to tell which states are leaning in your favor or the other candidate’s favor by the shade of the color. The brighter the shade, the more that state is likely to vote for the candidate represented by that color. Red is for Republicans and blue is for Democrats. Occasionally, a state will be a bright purple color. This signals that the state is a battleground in which it is anyone’s guess who will garner the votes of that state. Though the background music is easy on the ears, you will likely mute it in favor of playing your own music.


Depending on the choice of how long you want your campaign to last, you could finish up in just about an hour on the shortest setting. If you decide to go for the epic length of 121 weeks, be prepared to spend up to two, possibly three, hours in order to see if your campaign was a success. The ones who will aim to unlock all the achievements can expect to replay this title at least twenty times and you will have to be sure to set aside November 6th to unlock one of the twenty-two achievements.

The Political Machine 2012 also supports a multi-player mode which allows two players to run against each other. There is a good bit of potential here if you can find someone to play against. However, I was hard pressed to find anyone available to play a campaign with me. This can be remedied if you can talk a couple of your friends into purchasing the game and playing it with you.

There are the occasional bugs that can hinder your experience. Reports of the game crashing have been made known even though this is something I had yet to come across. My major gripe was the map moving off the screen when I moved the mouse to the Turn button. From time to time, I would also run into the problem of not being able to travel to a different state as my candidate wasn’t selected.

Despite the few bugs that have slipped through to the final product, The Political Machine 2012 is an enjoyable title. It’s not a game for everyone but those who enjoy politics (or, wonder if they have what it takes to run for office) will validate the $10 price tag.

The Political Machine 2012
Platform: PC
Genre: Strategy
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Developer: Stardock Entertainment
Publisher: Stardock Entertainment
ESRB Rating: N/A
MSRP: $9.95