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Review by: Josh Horowitz
Published: August 4, 2001
Isn’t it unsettling to think how much power elected officials hold these days? In the aftermath of the Monica Lewinsky and Chandra Levy scandals that rocked Washington DC, people are once again starting to recognize that politicians, behind their positions of power, are human beings just as fallible as the rest of us. Before placing a wreath of pity at the feet of these mortal leaders, though, remember that our representatives make decisions affecting millions of lives every day. Politicians could potentially cause widespread happiness or misery depending on how they feel when they get up in the morning. This personal element of politics is largely unknown to the average citizen except for what gets reported on the nine o’clock news and in “human” depictions of political leaders in theatrical films such as Dave and The American President. But how do these leaders really tick? Ever wondered what would it be like to actually lead a country, to control the means of production with benevolent altruism or malicious intent? How would it feel to create one-sided trade deals with third world nations, coordinate economic espionage, reveal a foreign scandal, and then bomb Canada, all before breakfast? Now, Monte Cristo Multimedia gives would-be power mongers the opportunity to play politics with their latest management simulation and strategy title, Political Tycoon.
Referred to as Economic War in Europe, Political Tycoon is the latest in a series of “Tycoon” games where players attempt to gain power and prestige through different micro-management situations. For this title, the focus is not on roller-coasters, pizzas, or railroads, but the entire world with its struggles and relations between the many nations. As the leader of one of 24 different countries, you must deal with economics, production, trade, research, diplomacy, and war as you try to win the multiple scenarios. Along the way, you will encounter some of the most bizarre assortment of leaders and personalities that seem to be taken right out of a Bill Plympton or Terry Gilliam cartoon.
Players can choose from a series of five single player and three multiplayer missions in their quest for world domination. The scenarios cover over a hundred years of real and fictional national conflicts, from the Cold War arms race of the 1950s to the post-apocalyptic world of 2050. The eight missions can be played as one of several real-world nations, each with a different objective to win. In the Arms Race mission, for example, players choose between China, France, and the United States while dealing with computer-controlled leaders from five other countries. As the Chinese, your objective is to bring about an international vote for military intervention against the U.S. after two terms in office. Playing the French, the goal is simply to be re-elected after one year — not an easy task considering France’s economic state following WWII. As the American leader, players have the lofty task of bringing down the Chinese government through outright war, diplomatic pressure, or by encouraging internal dissention. The scenarios have varying levels of difficulty that demand many hours of dedicated gameplay to get through them all.
As a strategy title, Political Tycoon blends elements from other established releases to bring a competitive element to the gameplay. Players will recognize features of SimCity and Age of Empires during the game’s building mode, which requires placement of different factories and structures to improve your nation’s economy. The trade bargaining interface resembles the dealmaking from Theme Park, with the faces of each leader smirking or grimacing as deals get better or worse. Additionally, the different commodity and resource screens have a standard business simulation look and feel to them, echoing the many Tycoon offerings of the past.
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