So I’ve been playing Political Machine long enough to actually review/talk about it. The game isn’t exactly a political simulator, but its pretty close. The first game, released back in 2004, accurately predicted the election between Bush and Kerry. The game predicted that Ohio, not Florida, would be the state that decided the election.
Anyway, in the race for the White House, you have a handful of candidates to select. On the Democrat side, the choices are Al Gore, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Bill Richardson, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and John Kerry. On the Republican side, the choices are Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani, and…Lord Kona. There’s also a number of secret characters for both parties. Sorry, no third-party or independents.
Timeout for some quick nitpicks… Lord Kona? The Democrats slightly outnumber the Republicans, so they throw in a joke candidate? Why not have Mike Huckabee or Fred Thompson? On a slightly less serious note, Bush and Bill Clinton shouldn’t be eligible. Both have served two terms, but I don’t mind them being in the game too much.
That aside, as fun as it is to get one of the pre-made candidates elected, I’m not too high on any of them. It’s much more fun to create your own candidate. Meet…Candidate Coby…
The first game had the characters looking like something from a comic book. They eschewed that for the creepy bobbleheads you see above. It also makes character creation a bitch. The appearance above was the best I could get…and I’m not entirely happy about it. In fact, the bobbleheads make the candidates look disproportionate. That bobblehead looks nothing like John McCain, for example…
Anyway, once you’re done setting your character’s appearance, you can edit their background, characteristics (stats), and issues. Background is nothing more than name, party and state. For characteristics and issues, you’re given an alloted number of points and use this to build your character. These stats are measured on a numerical scale from 1 to 10, 10 being the best. Stamina, Money, and Fund-Raising cost two points to improve (but give two points if you take away from them), all the others only cost one.
While going over the stats themselves, I’ll say who has the highest/lowest ratings in each category…with both playable and secret characters, as well as give my own candidates’ rating. Please note that I’m not counting Lord Kona because he’s a joke candidate.
Stamina: One of the more important stats in the game. Stamina determines how many actions you can take in one turn. Campaigning is hard work and taking action costs points. Giving speeches, creating ads, raising money, etc. takes a toll. The more stamina you have, the better you cope with the rigors of a Presidential campaign. I’d give my character at least a 9. John Kerry has a 9 in stamina, which I just can’t believe. John Edwards is tied with him. On the playable side of the Republicans, George W. Bush has the most with an 8. Dick Cheney is the worst with a 4. Concerning secret characters, Thomas Jefferson and John F. Kennedy have a 10.
Money: Another important stat, this governs how much money you start out with. It’s good to have a lot of money at the start of the game, otherwise you’ll be spending stamina raising funds at the beginning of the game. Discounting him, Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush are tied at 8. With secret characters thrown in, George Washington has a 10. Ron Paul is the worst with a 4. Me? I start with the average of 6.
Fund-Raising: While starting out with a good sum of money is good, it’ll eventually run-out. Replenishing money can be done through two ways, building (and upgrading) campaign headquarters or fund-raising. Fund-raising depends on several factors; how aware voters are of your candidate, how many times you’ve had fund-raisers in that state before, and others. Out of the playable characters, Bill Clinton is the best at raising money with a 9. On the Republican side, George W. Bush has an 8. Ron Paul is the worst with a 3. Secret character-wise, Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy have 10’s. I averaged out with a 6. At worst, I’d be on Ron Paul’s level.
Charisma: The lesser-tier stats are no less important. Charisma affects your speeches and advertisements. The more charisma you have, the better they are. Barack Obama has a 9, giving him the best score out of out-of-the-box characters. He’s leagues ahead of the best Republican, John McCain, who has a 6. Ron Paul is the worst again with a 3. I gave myself a 7. McCain sometimes looks tired in his speeches (although he’s pretty witty), whereas I’m youthful and full of energy. I also give damn good speeches…but I’m not in the same league as Bill Clinton (who has an 8). I’d argue Bill should have a higher rating than Obama, since once you get Obama off a teleprompter, he’s not nearly as charismatic. Concerning secret characters, Thomas Jefferson and John F. Kennedy lead the pack with 10’s.
Comeliness: While charisma controls speeches and ads, comeliness has an effect on TV appearances. That’s because comeliness measures how physically attractive your candidate is. Surprisingly, Mitt Romney is the most attractive out of everyone playable with a 9. On the Democrat side, Bill Clinton is tied with John Edwards and Barack Obama with a 7. Ron Paul and Dick Cheney are the least attractive with 4’s. Not surprisingly, John F. Kennedy is the most attractive in the game with a 10…and Richard Nixon has a horrible 2. Poor guy deserves better. I mean, that rating makes him two times uglier than the combined might of Dick Cheney and Ron Paul. Seriously, c’mon…
As for me, I gave myself a 6. Hillary Clinton has a 6 and I refuse to give myself a lower stat than her’s! I mean, c’mon, I’m not that ugly!
Credibility: Credibility measures the effectiveness of your negative ads/speeches on your opponent and vice-versa. For example, if an opponent who has lower credibility than you attacks your stance, the attack might backfire. Because of the Democrats’ love for flip-flopping, their cred ratings are slightly lower than the Republicans. Of course, neither side deserves good scores in this game. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are the most credible at the start with a 7. The most credible Democrats, Al Gore and John Kerry (!?), have a 6. John Edwards has a 2, although him and Bill Clinton (who has a 3) should switch spots. Throw in secret characters and Richard Nixon has the worst with a 1. Understandable, concerning he was involved in Watergate and all. Honest Abe Lincoln has a 10, as does John F. Kennedy. I gave myself a 7. After all, I have to be more credible than my opposition. Sometimes, I sacrifice a few points elsewhere to raise this to an 8 or 9 (though never a 10, that’s Honest Abe’s plateau).
Experience: This should measure how long you’ve been in politics, but game-wise, it affects the cost of endorsements. The more experience you have, the cheaper endorsements are. Dick Cheney has the most experience out of the starting candidates, with a maximum 10 (understandable, he’s been in politics since Gerald Ford’s tenure). The most experiened Democrat candidates are Al Gore and Bill Clinton, both have an 8. Barack Obama has the least experience with a 2 (understandable, considering he’s still in his first Senate term). With secret characters, several characters have 10’s. Lincoln, Nixon, and Lyndon Johnson. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson do not, despite being founding fathers…weird. I gave myself a 2, just for game balance. Whenever I go against Obama and I have a 0 or 1 in experience, he’ll end up snatching up key endorsements…endorsements that don’t suit him. Imagine, the NRA and Christian Right endorsing him. The Christian Right, fine, Obama at least goes to church. But the NRA endorsing him? Obama and the liberals want to take away guns! In contrast, I want you to keep your guns in case my government doesn’t follow the First Amendment! …Although, it is pretty funny to see Obama get the gun rights endorsement, then I attack him for his pro-gun control stance. Since I have more credibility than him, the gun rights voters end up voting for me anyway.
Intelligence: Like comeliness, intelligence only affects TV interviews. Unlike comeliness, intelligence decides what answers you can give. High intelligence unlocks the best answers that persuade people to your side of the argument. Low intelligence gives you stupid answers that will alienate everyone from your position. Dick Cheney and Ron Paul (!?) have the highest stats with a 9. Out of the Democrats, Hillary Clinton is the most intelligent with an 8 (!?). As for least intelligent, it’s a tie between John McCain, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush (surprise). No one in the game has a 10, but the secret characters have several 9’s. They include Richard Nixon, Thomas Jefferson and John F. Kennedy. I gave myself a 9, solely because Ron Paul does. Ron Paul has a 9!? Hell, I should have a 10! Why am I so surprised by this? Watch this video (watch from 2:40 – 3:30 especially). He also courts the Truther base, the people who believe 9/11 was an inside job by the government. And his credibility is only a 5!? No wonder sane people stay out of politics, it’s fucking crazy!
Media Bias: Media bias shows how much the mainstream media loves/despises your candidate. Good media bias means the media will do the best it can to give independent voters a good impression of you, as well as your base. Not surprisingly, Democrat candidates have a higher rating in this category than Republicans. Al Gore has the best of the Democrats with a 9, although Obama and Kerry are only one step behind. John McCain has a 6, the highest of the Republicans. All the other Republicans are lucky to have a 2. Bush and Cheney score 1’s and Ron Paul has a 0. By contrast, the lowest Democrat candidates score 5’s. Throw in secret characters and Thomas Jefferson has the best bias in the game with a perfect 10. I gave myself a 1, though I’d wonder about a 0. The liberal drive-bys would not help me become President…except for FOX.
Minority Appeal: Measures your appeal to minority voters. Since most minorities vote Democrat, their candidates rate higher than the Republicans here. And wow, does it show. Bush has the best score among them, with a lousy 3. Him and McCain (who has a 2) should switch spots, what with McCain’s immigration stance and all. On the Democrats side, Obama has the best with a 9. He’s only eclipsed by Abe Lincoln, who has a perfect 10. Me? Since I oppose both affirmative action and illegal immigration, well, I won’t be appealing to minorities. I gave myself a 1, which puts me with Woodrow Wilson, Ron Paul and Dick Cheney as the worst in the game.
Religious Appeal: Like minority appeal, but among religious voters instead. The GOP candidates have a slight edge here, with Dubya and Romney having the high scores of 7. Obama has a 6, which I’d question. He goes to church, sure, but what does he hear? The racist rantings of a certain preacher he supposedly disowned. On the flip side, Rudy Giuliani and Bill Clinton have the lowest appeal with 1’s. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson have the highest appeal with 8’s. Even though I went to a Mennonite private school, I don’t see myself too appealing to the relgious right. A 3 or 4 will do here. 3 because it’s the max number for the Democrats (I figure I’m just as appealing to those folk as Hillary Clinton and John Kerry) or 4 because it’s Teddy Roosevelt’s rating. “Speak softly and carry a big stick and all.” 4 is also Ron Paul’s rating.
This was longer than I originally intended. I’ll tacklet the issues next time. I’ll finish off with my stats, with the lowest number I’d give to the highest.
Media Bias: 1-2
Minority Appeal: 1
Religious Appeal: 3-4
“Oh a split-screen! Yeah, that’s much better!“