Decent games about the political process are few and far between, but Stardock (Sins of a Solar Empire, Galactic Civilizations II) will release The Political Machine 2008, a turn-based election strategy sim for PC, on June 18th.
And, while real politics is an expensive business, the virtual kind is relatively cheap. The Political Machine 2008 retails for a mere $19.95.
Over at GameSpot, Jon Miller, who played as manager of Barack Obama's simulated campaign, has a detailed preview:
In The Political Machine, one turn breaks down to one week. The amount of stamina your candidate has limits the number of actions you can perform for each turn. Early on, the country is one giant mass of undecided voters, and it's your goal as campaign manager to sway them with lofty campaign promises...as well as blatant negative campaigning...
Of course, no election is complete without fundraising. Each action in the game, even flying from one state to another, will drain your campaign budget. If you have enough stamina, it helps to hit the fundraiser button, especially in wealthy states loyal to your party. Obama cleaned up in California and New York, routinely bringing in more than $200,000 per fundraiser, but he floundered in South Dakota where he raised only $6,000.
And so the campaign season goes... The Political Machine 2008 is not the most complicated strategy game out there, but it's a fun, lighthearted look at American politics.
GP: I enjoyed the last version of the game (2004), and can't wait to get my hands on this one.