I've always fancied myself as something of a miniature Marxist. While I might have spent the majority of my life in middle class squalor, eating my own body weight in French Fancies and batting away the care and attention of over-doting parents, I do fantasise that I'm a beret away from going all Che Guevara and trumpeting an oncoming socialist revolution. I like to think that anyway.
Democracy 3 allows a facile idiot like myself to play out utopian fantasies, all whilst never straying too far from the aforementioned confectionary. Declaring your political intentions and heading to the ballot box has never been easier, and the right to govern never been more firmly snatched away from the hands of an elite few. Enter stage left, Tingle's Thundering Socialisimo Party.
You can only be a socialist if you wear a beret
My idea of society was one loosely based on Homer Simpson's speech of "fat cats, with their fingers on the button" and as such I set to tinkering with corporate taxes. Why should so many go without when a select few had so much? Not in the TTSP's UK. Taxes raised, environmental policies levied, and anti-rich sentiment firmly fixed, I set about dismantling the bourgeois.
Sadly no option for collecting a soap box and giving speeches to comrades was available, but I ploughed on with my government. The poor received state housing. Education was reformed. Things were going up and up and up. Great Britain the Tingle way. Great Britain the right way. Great Britain as according to my head movies.
And the people loved me. I won massive landslide victories. People probably called their children Adam through steely respect. Had this been real, I would probably modestly smile, puff on my pipe, and humble announce "I serve you, mother Britain."
Then the capitalists started to leave. Then went the jobs. Then the GDP plummeted. Suddenly, my utopian society of rich ragamuffins turned into angry "why can't we afford food" scoundrels. Opinions dropped quicker than the valuation of the pound. People no longer offered their children's namesake in my favour. They wanted something else. Like Icarus I had flown too high and pissed off the powers that be. Probably Tesco. Yeah I blame Tesco.
This governmental adventure of decisions and focus groups is one of those rare independent gems that reminds you exactly why you persevere with graphics cards and keyboards. The often commented upon, but rarely exercised idea of running a country is fascinating, and one that Democracy 3 manages to deliver with some amount of aplomb. Provided of course, that you are either Republic or Democrat. Socialist or capitalist.
Scandals will drag you down
Positech's political sequel is essentially a game of juggling and balancing. No government can appease the entire electorate, therefore drawing your ideological boundaries is what ultimately shapes the game.
Whether you are morally upstanding and try to implement a socialist government for the many, or simple dovetail towards the rich and pound down corporation tax is your call. And there are so many calls to make.
D3 presents its political choices and policies through a series of bubbles scattered around ever-present opinion polls. From time to time, external decisions will have to be made, from data protection laws to nuclear power, while social ills will spring up like a game of social whack-a-mole, and it is your job to bring the hammer of legislation down.
For the most part, D3 is an addictive, highly entertaining, and thought provoking piece of software. Giving to one section here, can cause mass derision and inequality somewhere else. Balancing the scales of power and fairness is all important, and provides food for thought long after the exit game button has been sought.
But that isn't to say that Positech's governmental skirmish isn't without its problems. Due to the independent nature of the game, D3 can feel limited. Choices rinse and repeat after an hour or so of gameplay, meaning that the same laws and issues are presented time and time again.
Government largely involves squiggly graphs
There will also come a point where you can simply win at government. Having inched policy slowly, watched budgets, and doctored opinion polls, a once troubled nation can be so far in the green, so suffocated in surplus cash, that every popular policy can be implemented, regardless of the whims of the world economy. Year after year can pass; term after term can end; and your power will never be troubled.
DEMOCRACY 3 VERDICT
These collective problems make D3 feel slightly less than it should. This is an excellent combination of concept and design, but needed more, more, more. The core game itself utilises a fine engine with which to play with, but the actual core of the experience feels somewhat lacking in substance. A real shame that detracts from an outstanding piece of game design.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Crafting a well oiled, fair, and equal society that legalises LSD and hanging.