Most times you know from a game’s opening movie (if it has one) if the game will be any good. The same holds true with Political Tycoon (PT). We are introduced to that American President (with an uncanny resemblance to George W. Bush) and a Middle Eastern King whom you are meeting with to discuss the trading of American missiles. The President proceeds to tell the King that they have done business with some of their allies and they have been very happy. Cut to a shot of a missile homing in and hitting the White House. The King’s glasses lay on the burning rug, and they the cartridge of the missile with the American Flag proudly stamped on it. I found myself laughing so hard at this point that I thought I was going to pass out, the French has such a wacky way of doing things, the game just has the quirky humor to keep it going. Luckily, the game just doesn’t fall back on the humor, because the gameplay is inspired and fun.
One thing that makes me proud about this game is the fact that the tutorials actually do something and try to explain the game. Wait, they do more than try, they let you interact with what you are being told to do, and in turn, you actually learn to play the game. In some recent games I have played the tutorials were nothing more than a story telling session, that made you watch as you were issued to perform the most remedial tasks known to man (turn the camera left, right, up, and down, Great!), gimme a break.
Utilizing an interface borrowed (heavily) from the SimCity Series as well as any Blizzard RTS to hit the market, you don’t have to struggle to perform even the most arduous tasks. Menus are cleanly laid out, the technology tree is clearly explained, and the map is displayed with a high amount of colors, and rich animation. Just looking at this game is a joy.
No matter what country you choose to be, or what scenario you decide to play, the game offers enough variety of character, and interesting gameplay to keep you coming back till you have conquered them all. The game sets down missions that you must meet. You will have to maintain your Prime Minister’s approval rating above a certain percentage, or the game will be over for you, and it’s Toon-Town Government for you and your cabinet. Once you are in power (which is the start of the game) you have many different options that you have to contend with.
You will be responsible for working out deals with other nations on trade, pacts, and other exchanges that will keep you as a super power in the world. Using a detailed spy network you can find spies in your own country (by using the counter-spy option) or send them to other countries and find out vital information. You are given a “black book” of money that you have to spend on certain “non-legal” activities. As long as there is money in that account, things could only be getting better for you, but as stuff starts to go wrong, and you lose money your spies will be caught and your approval rating will tumble, then it’s Game Over for you pal! The game play is much more than what I can describe in a review, it has to be experienced to really understand the gameplay. One of the funniest things to do is threaten to bomb another country, then hit your launch missiles button. A huge, overly dramatic red button pops out of no where, and if you click it, Kaboom!
Graphics-wise, the game is average. It doesn’t have an eye-popping 3D engine with curved surfaces and amazing particle effects under the hood, but the isometric 3D engine that powers PT is more than enough to give you a feel for it’s world.
In the sound department, the cheery music will get annoying after awhile, but nothing as overly disturbing as we have seen in games of the past (cough .. San Francisco Rush ..cough), and we all know the gameplay rocks!
A few minor issues arose during testing. The game doesn’t seem to like laptops too much. While playing the game on my portable, it would need constant CD-ROM access for the music, but every time it would try to access the CD-ROM the game would hiccup and stutter. This made it sort of a downer because I wanted to play the game on my lunches at work to get in some extra playtime, but it just wasn’t meant to be so.
All in all Political Tycoon is a fun and entertaining way to kill a few minutes or a couple of hours. The game play is the key here, and that is what really counts. The gameplay is aided by a zany sense of humor that never really gets old. Enjoy the game for the right reasons, and don’t categorize it with the mass of ” * Tycoon” games hitting the market left and right, this is one you shouldn’t miss.