You would think at the tail end of ayear filled to bursting on politics, I would have had my fill.Considerably, I am certain to say that as any long-time abuser ofdangerous substances, my tolerance has just acquired greater and myaddiction just stronger. With the other hand, thanks to Red MarbleGames' Democracy 2, I have gone from being a mere sheep-like consumerof political news to becoming a news maker myself inside the confinesof my Mac's processor, however.

Democracy 2 keeps you in the driver'sseat, so to speak, of any one of a collection of countries withbroadly differing economic, demographic and political situationswhose just contributed characteristic is that they are everythingone-person, one-vote democracies. Your goal is to deal on crises,implement new policies, and in general improve or hold the quality oflife for your constituents.

Ok, actually, the point is to acquirethem to re-elect you. But you experienced that already. Anyway,depending upon what alternatives you select, you have two to fiveterms of office to possibly acquire via, and the clock goes by inquarterly turns. In each turn you assess the political situation andimplement or change policies to deal with it.

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What follows is my attempt to describein a few paragraphs the outline of this extreme complex game. Firstof all, I should make it clear that this is no way amilitarily-focused strategy game. The "playing field," suchas it is, is nothing like straightforward as a map or first-personperspective camera. In fact, the ways in which information is madeavailable to you as the leader of your nation is one of Democracy 2'sstrengths and as well, may be, one of its weaknesses.

I say "strength" first of all, because there is toomuch information. The depth of this game is actually ratherastonishing. The main display of the game is divided into sevenwedges, every representing a specific area of governance or what Iwill call a ministerial portfolio: Law & Order, Foreign Affairs,Public Services, Taxes, etc. Inside each wedge are small iconsrepresenting different matters or policies.

The blue icons are informational only,and if you click with one it will pull up a display affording you areport with the particular crisis or matter it represents. Blackicons represent policies in place or that you have initiated, andclicking on them allows you to move a slider bar to add or subtractfunding, or reduce or increase the range of the law; if you haveimplemented car emissions limits, moving the bar to the rightincreases penalties for violators.

What is as well helpful is that if youhover your mouse above an icon, "line's of influence"appear display how this matter or policy affects other matters aswell as particular voting blocs. "Flaming" icons indicateissues that have reached crisis levels, such as "organizedcrime," "homelessness." etc. And, eventually, greenicons indicate things that are going specifically considerable, likea booming technology sector or a highly productive economy .