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Review: The Race for the White House

July 13, 2012

It’s not on the schedule, but this game demands review.

Where do I begin? Well, the game is effectively an election simulator, and in this task it’s more or less successful. All of the major functions seem to work, the interface is fairly intuitive (move your piece to where you want to go on the map and the cost and time to make the trip shows up underneath, red for Republican, blue for Democrat, that kind of thing), and on the whole it’s functional.

But where the whole thing starts to fall apart and does a crotch plant on a steel rail is the CG candidates and the voice acting. For example, these are the Not-Quite-Obama and Not-Quite-Romney:

And if you think that’s bad, well, you’re right. But there’s more, namely the voice acting. Or rather the one voice actor for every male character in the game:

Holy balls. If you didn’t watch the video for whatever reason, or were otherwise occupied retching and/or convulsing with laughter, you might have missed a few things. One is that these are not technically Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, but rather are Jack Ohama and Mick Ronney. Because changing one letter will totally disarm a possible defamation suit, right? And that’s the only reason I can think of for changing their names, because The Political Machine-series of games has been using politicians’ real names as late as…oh, about two and a half weeks from now.

(ADDENDUM: I just figured out how to describe the candidate voice imitations. Ohama’s voice is something like Bill Cosby mixed with George Wallace, while Mick Ronney sounds like Bill Clinton with a hint of FDR’s nasal-ness and a stick up his ass.)

The other thing is that, during the debate featured in the trailer, both candidates referred to “Obamacare”. And no, I didn’t hear that wrong – I went back and checked. Twice.

Are there any editors working at Eversim? Like, at all?

This is doubly wrong – the first being that Obama has tended to refer to it as health care reform or the Affordable Care Act, and the second, and more obvious being, who is this Obama fellow? The president and Democratic nominee is Jack Ohama.

This is a real thing that costs real money. Granted, it’s only twenty dollars, but still, this is made by a professional video game company. These people have created in-depth crisis simulations on behalf of NATO, for fucks sake.

Forgot what they changed Barack Obama’s name to. They forgot. What they changed. The first black American President’s. Name to. You know, I don’t think I’d be as annoyed by this if it had happened in a game about French politics, if they’d referred to Obama in one instance and Ohama in another. I’d probably be, “You know what, fine. They probably added it at the last minute and they were rushed, no big deal.”

This is a game about an election in the United States of Fucking America. And it also proves that the name change was last minute, that the audio was recorded early in the design process, and that it was made on a shoestring budget, seeing as they couldn’t get one guy – I repeat, ONE GUY – back in the studio to record a few lines. (By the way, I have plans to lobby the Congress to officially change the name of the country to the “United States of Fucking America”, just so no one can ever say the full name on TV before 1 a.m.)

And on the topic of voice acting, can you remember the last time you saw voice acting being touted as an amazing feature for a game to have? Because for me it was the mid-nineties, around ’94 or ’95 or so. It’s not that big of a deal nowadays, or at least it shouldn’t be in an age when you can buy a microphone for $15-20 at Radioshack and get Audacity for free from Sourceforge.

Look, I can see how you might want to try your hand at the heady world of  national politics, especially given that we are currently ass-deep in campaign slogans and ads. But you know what? This ain’t the game. Wait for StarDock to come out with The Political Machine 2012, because it’s half the price and it’s hideously deformed caricatures are on purpose.

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