A great idea for a game, sadly let down by a bad user interface and a one-dimensional approach to most issues. Rather than picking between truly different
policies, every subject is represented by a simple slider that allows you to pick how much money you want to spend and tells you which groups that will make you more (or less) popular with.
Occasionally an "urgent issue" pops up, and gives you only two (generally radical) options, such as "allow GM crops" or "ban GM crops". There's no complexity, no incentive for players to actually research the issues and select a realistic policy (ex., "allow GM crops only after N years of testing and limit genetic patents to X years"). And the exact same questions pop up again and again, regardless of your previous answers. If you're presented with the option to "lift the whaling ban" or "keep current law" and pick "lift ban", in a couple of turns you get the same
question (which assumes there's a ban in place even though you lifted it). They didn't even bother to save your choice and reword the question. It's just a button you press to make you more popular with some groups and less popular with others.
Even when some issue shows various descriptions (ex., the "abortion policy" slider shows some text underneath it that goes from "on demand" to "total ban" with some intermediate stages like "require the approval of two doctors" and "only under special circumstances"), it effectively still behaves as a basic linear slider. There's no way to select different policies based on how advanced the pregnancy is, no option to consult scientists, no option to launch a public campaign or referendum about it, etc.. It's just a cursor you drag to try to keep your approval bars green.
Or rather, in a few cases, there is
the option to launch public campaigns.... as long as you pay extra, for one of the "DLC packs", or (if you're slightly less gullible) install some free mod that duplicates those packs' functionality. Unfortunately, the mods are still limited by the shallowness of the gameplay mechanics and the bad UI design (i.e., they just add another
linear slider that lets you spend some more money to reduce the negative effects of those policies on your popularity).
Then there's a whole section about "security", which tells you which groups are likely to try to kill you, but doesn't let you actually take any measures to fight them; if the "Union of Church-Going Grannies" is mad at you for supporting the teaching of evolution, your only option to is to appease them (ex., by funding the teaching of creationism - and the game doesn't even let you pick which
creationist myths to teach - or finding some other issue that will push their approval bars up).
It never feels like you're managing a country or even establishing a political reputation; it's just a balancing game where you push a lot of sliders to the middle, to try to prevent invisible people from hating you too
Also, I managed to get all the "positive" achievements (approval rating above 98%, technological paradise, crime-free utopia, poverty eradicated, etc.) in less than 4 hours of gameplay, so it's not even challenging