Political junkies (defined as anyone who%26rsquo;s not already sick of the 2008 presidential race) will find this tongue-in-cheek strategy game based on the upcoming election a great diversion. As an armchair campaign manager, you%26rsquo;ll shuffle bobble-headed candidates (real life, historical, or custom-made) around the country in an effort to elevate their popularity, fundraise, and scam/convince the voters of each state (whose preferences are informed by actual polling data) that you%26rsquo;re on their side in various issues - from fixing the economy to Iraq to videogame violence - with ads, speeches, talk show appearances, and political operatives. If contemporary America isn%26rsquo;t your speed, you can play one of the three extra scenarios which include 1860%26rsquo;s America, Europe, or the alien world of Drengi from Galactic Civilizations II.
There are a few hanging chads that muck up the gameplay a bit. Random events, for instance - which can introduce special operatives, give you extra cash, or saddle you with some blowhard who wastes your time on the campaign trail - are handed out to the first candidate to visit the state they appear in, which isn%26rsquo;t really in the spirit of turn-based gaming. As in the original Political Machine, there are no consequences for flip-flopping on an issue from state to state, and the two-party limit makes Ralph Nader sad. Craziest of all, a weird bug caused Democrat, independent, and Republican voters of Texas to unanimously favor high gas prices. And on principle, I%26rsquo;d have liked to see some drawbacks to running a negative campaign. (Then again, playing dirty is a lot of fun.)
Even so, there%26rsquo;s so much charm veiling the spreadsheet that lies beneath the game that these quibbles are easily forgiven. PM08%26rsquo;s sense of humor, topical subject matter, and discount price ($19.99) make it a candidate I%26rsquo;d happily endorse.
PC Gamer scores games on a percentage scale, which is rounded to the closest whole number to determine the GamesRadar score.
PCG Final Verdict: 81% (excellent)
Jun 27, 2008