Friday, July 11, 2008

Campaign Game: General Election

As a big fan of President Elect, I naturally assumed Campaign Game would be something similar: you have to choose how to allocate your advertising budget, campaign appearances and so forth in critical states to give you the edge in electoral votes over your opponent. Imagine my surprise in discovering, then, that Campaign Game isn't really anything like that -- it's a pretty traditional turn-based strategy game, except that instead of elves and magicians, you have fundraisers and John McCain.

At the beginning of the game, you select three staff members; your staff can be either hatchetmen, operatives, spinmeisters, or fundraisers. Your candidate is also a unit on the board. (In the General Election game, you can only play Obama or McCain; apparently earlier versions allowed you to play with a wider range of candidates. I was rather disappointed that this feature got taken out; it would be nice to have a larger selection.) Anyway, as you move your units around the map, each unit has a "control radius" that flips control of nearby squares to your side. If you control all of the squares in a region, you take control of that region, and it provides a ready source of cash. Your units can also attack enemy units, which reduces their HP, or enemy regions, which reduces their control; if you totally defeat an enemy region, it reverts to neutral and has to be recaptured all over again. At the beginning of each turn, you get cash for each region you hold; since you need cash to power your units' special abilities (each unit has one unique ability, and your candidates have several), this can make a large difference. You can recruit new units to replace destroyed ones, but this takes a lot of cash.

Unfortunately, the AI is just not very good; beating the game, even on the hard difficulty, is not much of a challenge. The graphics are kind of cute, though the music (which is also one of the Monster's Den: Book of Dread battle themes) gets very repetitive after a while (it's fine in small doses, but having it playing throughout the whole game gets boring quick). The sound effects are decent, but nothing to write home about. There's also multiplayer, which I didn't try.

Anyway, while this isn't a bad strategy game, there's not really much which makes it particularly noteworthy, either. It's a fun play once or twice, but doesn't really have much lasting replay value.

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