The Rock The Vote campaign has been trying all sorts of techniques to raise awareness on voting and urge people to head for the polls. Their latest attempt may just work, combining the temptation of free apps with the allure of fun games. Make no mistake, this isn’t some cheap, generic game that pollutes the Top 100 in the App Store. With Chair Entertainment (famous for the fantastic Infinity Blade and Shadow Complex) in the development chair, I dove in with fairly high expectations. At the same time, how good can a political game be anyway?
I can’t say I’ve played many politically-fueled games, not to mention politically-fueled games that pit two candidates in a physical fight, but if there is a category for such games, I’d imagine VOTE!!! would be somewhere on top. On the surface, VOTE!!! is basically a reskinned Infinity Blade. The block button and the conventional slash attacks are all exactly the same. This is both a great thing and a disappointing one. I was really hoping for fresh ideas or some new concepts. Instead, I’m stuck with a fairly limited Infinity Blade with some extras here and there. On the other hand, this is basically a free version of Infinity Blade. That is pretty awesome, especially since all of the responsive gameplay translates very well.
So what else is different between Infinity Blade and VOTE!!!? Well, for one thing, you get to duke it out as Romney or Obama, and you get to fight in the Oval Office, among other locales. On top of that, you can use cash you earn (or buy, but why would you do that?) to change up your candidate’s apparel or weapon. Yeah, I doubt it’s enough incentive to keep replaying what is basically the same thing over and over again, but it’s a nice touch. Speaking of which, it is kind of dismaying to only have one mode to play. You either play as Romney or Obama and fight the other. That’s the start and end of it. It gets kind of old pretty quickly. Without any leaderboards, there’s little incentive to keep playing after a few rounds. At this point, though, I have to stress this is all for free.
But what about the whole point of the game? After all, it’s all supposed to be an incentive to vote and raise awareness on voting. On that end, VOTE!!! does a pretty decent job. On the title screen there is a simple “Register To Vote” button. You can always go into the options menu to learn more about resources to vote, too. Other than that, the game wisely avoids plastering ads or PSAs on the screen and focuses on creating a fun game.
In the end, it’s the little touches that really set this game above being just an afterthought product from Chair. At the beginning, when you select the candidate you play as, you “vote” for them and it catalogues all of the votes. This produces a neat bar graph that shows how many people “voted” for each candidate. Even cooler are the various phrases that pop up while fighting. When you make a successful block, it says “Damage Control.” Likewise, the final slashes are now “Closing Remarks.” It’s these clever little touches that really demonstrate the polish that Chair puts into its products. So yes, this is an app with the purpose to get you to vote. And yes, it’s just a reworked and more limited version of Infinity Blade. But who hasn’t dreamt of pitting presidential candidates against each other, physically, and especially while the admission is free?