Democracy 2 has a bit of a slow start, because with so many options and so many possibilities it’s hard to get a handle on what everything does. It’s a government strategy game, which isn’t a new genre, but Democracy has almost endless options.
My country, Malaganga, started with some problems, and my goal was to eliminate disease and street crime, without alienating any voters. In Civ4, my usual strategy game, your citizens will tell you that religion makes them happy, and if you’re really successful, they’ll throw a celebration in your honor. (I particularly like “We love the despot!” day.) In Democracy2, your constituents are divided into smaller interest groups, like Liberals, Socialists, Wealthy, Drivers or Smokers, and your actions affect each group differently. A tax on emissions pleases Environmentalists but annoys others, free school buses please Parents, but the Tobacco tax to pay for the buses doesn’t go over so well. In addition to passing laws, random events come up, and you’ve got decide who to appoint for foreign relations, or whether to allow genetically modified produce. I really liked the random events. Sometimes a pop star would endorse me, and once a vigilante superhero appeared (I guess I had some street crime problems).
The Democracy Game is quite realistic, but I found some parts of the realism frustrating… sometimes I was able to find and implement a policy to correct whatever situation had gone red in Malaganga, but it would take several turns to have any effect.
I turned out to be excellent at keeping socialists, environmentalists, drinkers and parents happy. Overall, I loved trying to balance what different groups needed, and the game can be played as a benevolent, caring father of the people, watching your homelessness problem disappear and your hospitals improve, — or you can be an evil dictator.