Democracy 3 at the Eurogamer Expo

democracy 3
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on September 29, 2013
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With all the glitz and glamour of titles like Call of Duty: Ghosts, Fifa 14 and Assassin’s Creed IV, not to mention Sony’s mammoth stand showing off the PS4, it would have been easy to forget the great Indie titles that were on show at Eurogamer this year, one of these unique and impressive games was Democracy 3, from Positech Games.

I was slightly late to the Democracy party, as I was only made aware of Democracy 2 at University by some buddies in my Politics class, this was a few years after the games release. As a bit of politics nerd and a well known ranter at Government policy I loved the idea of taking full control of a country, from cabinet ministers to implementing policies and laying out a budget Democracy 2 gave you complete freedom.

Attending Eurogamer I was keen to see how the new features Democracy 3 boast and I was instantly impressed by the improved visuals in the game. Democracy 2 started look somewhat dated, which is understandable with its 2007 release date, that has been changed in the third title and the game is a lot more visually pleasing. Every screen has been overhauled and icons have all been reworked to be a look a lot more attractive.

I was lucky enough to speak to the game’s creator, Cliff Harris, who told me he was a lot happier with the way this title looked compared to previous titles.

A lot of the gameplay mechanics have remained the same so players of previous Democracy titles will slip straight back into the groove and either lead their party to re-election or make a hash of the economy and get voted out of office after their first term.

This does not mean the game isn’t approachable for newcomers and if Government policy and economics appeals to you it is a game that you will pick up fairly quickly, as with previous titles the sliders that feature on policies and the expenditure screen are easy to use and pretty self explanatory.

One big change to gameplay is the fact Democracy 3 is the return of real countries available for players to choose from, opposed to the fictional states that were on offer in Democracy 2.

Cliff described this move to me as a response to calls from fans, who were apparently disappointed in the change in Democracy 2 and simply modded in real countries, as “everyone wants to play as their own country”, a sentiment that was shown as true when he showed me the games history for the day, everyone that had played the game played as Great Britain, and were all pretty socialist.

Democracy 3 overview

Whilst on modding it should be mentioned that the process of adding mods in Democracy 3 has been completely reworked and is now a feature that will not overwrite your game is you wish to add another player’s mod.

The game now has a menu where you can select or deselect mods, meaning that if a mod doesn’t work for you you can simply deselect it, rather than it completely overwrite the game as it did in Democracy 2.

There were a number of gameplay additions that present a welcome change for the new title. In the policy screen there is now a bar showing how popular a new policy will be with your electorate, which is a nice change, as in the last game policies that did not have an obvious effect on certain voting groups would require some guess work in terms of their effect on the electorate.

Other new tweaks to gameplay mechanics include a rework of the line chart that shows voter’s approval of you, as now new policies appear on this graph, meaning you can directly see how policy implementation affects different voting groups.

Democracy 3 voters screen

There are also reworks to the end of turn summary and voting group screens, and these are a lot more informative and useful than in previous titles. This accompanies a change to the focus groups screen, which is more accessible.

This all leads to a more rounded experience from Democracy 3, the game is more visually appealing, new features add playability to the title and in some ways the game is slightly more approachable, Democracy 2 could be a bit off putting with the way information was thrown at a new player, Democracy 3 does not do this.

In certain terms the game is slightly easier than Democracy 2, an area that Cliff was keen to discuss with me, as he explained that those that had played the older games and had accessed the early beta had complained that the third game was too easy, however there is a difficulty slider before the game is started, which features alongside a new look start screen for the game.

There is now a choice for ‘political apathy’ which designates how many of the electorate will turn out for elections, impressively this is linked with real life political apathy, as the developer has researched voting turnout in the countries that feature in the game and placed the statistics into the game.

Before starting a new game you also have a choice to decide the ‘innate socialism’ and ‘innate liberalism’ of your nation, a feature that was not present in the old game. This can obviously be used to your advantage as you can choose to match the innate beliefs to your own, so your policy ideas will go down well, alternatively you could challenge yourself and place the sliders against your own beliefs and see how you can run the country against the opposition.

Social and political issues remain the same and can be directly affected by your running of the country, however Cliff explained that he wanted to add a longevity to these, as in the previous game social issues were linked to real world issues, leading to detrimental affect of rap music being included, which he felt became outdated quickly. This time round the issues will be more generalised and will hopefully result in issues not becoming irrelevant.

All in all Democracy 3 really impressed me, it was one of my favourite indie games at the convention. If you are interested in current affairs, government policy and economics then I would definitely recommend checking this game out.

The title is currently in final stages of development and will be released for PC, Mac and Linux soon, however if you pre-order the game now you gain access to the early beta, meaning you could play the game immediately.

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