Great Britain Limited Review | Personal Computer News - Everygamegoing

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Great Britain Limited
By Simon W. Hessel
Spectrum 48K

 
Published in Personal Computer News #003

Max Characters Rules

Introduction

As I watched the last of the Labour strongholds crumble, I asked myself "What went wrong?" It wasn't as if I'd gone to the electorate on the wrong policy - matter of fact, I'd gone into three consecutive elections on three different wrong policies.

Objectives

Great Britain Limited is best described as a government simulation. It's a text-only game where you become the Prime Minister of your choice, representing the political party of your choice.

The program is essentially a budgeting tool - you are presented first with a series of economic indicators, such as the inflation rate, the value of the pound against the dollar, and your accumulated surplus/deficit, then you take it from there.

You levy direct and indirect taxes, allocate resources to social services, and spend money on new housing, schools, youth unemployment and so on. This is done in five rounds; each round representing a year of government. After five years, you must face your less than adoring public. If your policies are really extreme it could be a lot sooner!

First Impressions

At first sight, Great Britain Limited seems more realistic than it is. There does seem to be a logical relationship between what you do by way of taxation and public spending and what happens to the economy, but after you've tried a few different forms of government you'll probably find it's fixed firmly somewhere in the economic territory of the 1960s.

What I'd regard as a fair attempt to simulate the progress of the current government, for example, went wildly off the scale, and Rhodes Boyson - my choice to lead said government - disappeared into the dustbin of history.

In Play

But he wasn't the only one. My first effort had been under the guiding hand of the Rt. Hon Ken Livingstone. Law and order broke down, and Red Ken's government was thrown out after only one year.

At the beginning of the game, the screen tells you 'INPUT name (max characters 24)'. I took this as a hint, and at the startlingly early age of 24 the Rt Hon Max Characters MP swept to power.

Max's Liberal government (yes, I'd defected!) endured for 25 years. His style was cynical - he'd shove up taxation to 40 per cent as soon as he was elected, build up a large surplus at the expense of the groaning populace, then spend it all in the year before the election.

He invariably returned with a landslide majority, despite the fact that his stop-go economic policies stroked inflation up to 2,000 per cent over a 20-year-period. Fags were 60 a packet, and average incomes were around 250,000 a year.

Verdict

The fact that cynicism works is depressing, and it's also clear that no way is Great Britain Limited the Treasury Economic Model. But then if you could run the country on a Spectrum, some whizz-kid would no doubt be doing so.

It is an excellent game, and it passed one crucial test, in that two economists of my acquaintance, although fully aware of its limitations, are still queuing up to play it. You'd best buy it now before inflation pushes software up to 500 a tape.

John Lettice