Despite the raised fist and the red star on the game box cover, there was no real communist option in this game. The politics are so twisted, they'd be difficult to explain as other than New York Times Liberalism crossed with anarchist Liberalism as seen through an eastern European lense. We have some kind of imagery of authoritarian dictators along Western anti-communist propaganda themes, but we also have players interested in unions, political campaigning and "action."
I have to admit that in the main I failed in meeting my own goals for reviewing this game. I tried on several different nights to play this game through enough stages where I felt I could draw substantial conclusions. There was just something so sleepy about this game that every time I tried to play it, I found myself falling asleep too quickly after starting. Thus, I want to take care not to knock the sense in which the game has simulated living people and a sense of active and flowing life in a city that is not routinely pre-determined. A differing interpretation by another reviewer is that the "learning curve" is too steep in this game to get much out of it except by spending months playing. I'm not going to investigate whether that is just industry self-service or truth.
I was able to play role-playing games including the decadent "Doom" and less controversial "Myst" without falling asleep, so I cannot chalk up the effect of this game on its obvious attempt to walk the line between strategy and role-playing. Perhaps the right description is sleepy in a mesmerizing way. This may have something to do with how the game itself gives the player a realistic sense of day and night. We are supposed to feel our hearts pounding as we pace the streets of a city trying to spy, convert potential allies and carry out other actions for revolution of some kind or other--all the while that the dictator in power may decide to crack down and succeed in doing so.
The game box reads, "following the fall of the mighty Soviet Union, the Republic of Novistrana verges on collapse and numerous factions struggle for power. . . . You must build a nationwide faction powerful enough to start a revolution, and oust the president." In truth, it's as if the various anarchists took their own theory about everything being a struggle stemming from the state literally and then concluded power struggle is really just about persynality and logistics so they might as well just join in power struggle on that basis. When my character took up the mission of converting prison guards and like characters in the game to my cause, the discussion was not really so much a conversation as a game of paper, rock and scissors or poker. Risk your political capital as a number correctly and you win the conversation.
Maybe simple-minded anti-communist syndicalism does get a fair shake in this game. However, another reviewer claims that it is possible to be a Stalin in this game, and it's just not true, unless we water down Stalin to such an extent that he is a holder of state power and not much else.
The game does start by asking political preferences on a number of questions, and there is a lot of work that goes into creating of individual persynalities that show up in the game, but the politics are not really based on historical questions, just persynality questions. Reduced down to this psychological level, politics becomes boring; although there is certainly an implicit model of political success related to political canvassing, money and spying. It's just that the game is so cynical and simplified politically (not programming or simulation-wise) as to be boring. About the only interesting point is the whole idea that people join movements for reasons completely extraneous to those movements' goals and even their strategies --the idea that one way to pacify a faction is to send it spray-painting slogans for example, just because the people involved want to spray-paint, and it could be spray-painting anything. Hence, some may conclude that this game is "critical" of all movements and attempts at gathering political power, and thus the game is anarchist of the sort MIM refers to as pre-political. MIM would disagree though. The game is not genuinely anarchist: it's just psychological Liberalism and vapid anti-communism.
Rather than play this game which is about nuts and bolts of politics and role playing, we recommend that potential players play a different game instead: just take out our petition for Ward Churchill into the real world and see how it goes instead of canvassing for something undefined in this game. Find out what common opinions are, see if there are "actions" that some people want to take and find out what it's like to raise money. As in the game, in some "districts" response to the petition will be better than in others. This is one case where real life is far more interesting than the simulation game. If we become experienced in politics a little, some movies will lose their appeal as well, because life can be better than a video game, theater drama or even a glamorous Hollywood movie.