First of all, I wanted to say that the game’s complexity is amazing. How one policy will influence several others at anytime and create an intricated web of feedback is really impressive, and if you combine that with the number of options available, it makes a really great and realistic game !
I have played so far two games, one as Great Britain and one as France. I have tried to apply to both countries a leftist / liberal / science-focused / environmentalist policy (not so far from my own opinions) with so far great results : I managed over two terms as France to get rid of all negative modifiers (and debt, too) and get a technological advantage and with Great Britain I had achieved similar results but it had taken me a bit longer (although it was my first game, so I probably made some mistakes). Now I would have to test the other way around and see if I can achieve the same results by acting (for me) counter-intuitively and favoring a right-wing / conservative / pro-religion / screw the planet approach (or at least one or two of these). If not, it might be that I am inherently right in my choice of policies, that I am bad at playing for the other side (highly likely) or the the game favors my point of view (hence the need to test).
In terms of game mechanics, some options could be perfected : for exemple, in both cases I managed to wipe out entirely the “religious” citizen group (I have 0 members in both games). I did not even do it on purpose, it just so happens that when you push for “evolution only” to be taught and you enforce technological colleges, you have very strong membership modifiers on religious membership. I find it quite unrealistic that nobody (including I suppose every priest/rabbi/iman/whatever) in a 60+ M country would consider him/herself a religious person so I would advocate for a basic number, maybe just 1%, of people that just can’t be suppressed in any type of citizen interests.
Some quite cheap policies also have really impressive effects, particularly in the long run, which I enjoy (those concerning the environment, for exemple). However, some negative modifiers, like organised crime, are particularly hard to get rid of : I managed to wipe it out only by maxing my spy agency budget (suprisingly, the police dosen’t directly fight organised crime) and legalizing prostitution (wich, by the way, is a very (too ?) interesting move once you have gotten rid of all religious people from your country).
One of the things that bothered me was that compared to the demo version of democracy 2, political approval was a bit too easy to get : you generally don’t start your term with 70 or 80 % of the population ready to vote for you : in France (yes,I’m French) at least, even achieving 60% in any election would be considered a landslide, so you should probably start with 40 to 70 % of sympathetic citizens (yes, you can have less than the majority chosing you for president and get elected in France : it’s a two-turn vote with only two candidates in the second turn, so the majority of voters don’t get the president they voted for in the first round).
I will add one more of what I hope is seen as positive criticism, about the oil price event : I find it a bit disapointing that despite my efforts to lower fuel consumption (carbon tax, subsidies, energy efficiency policies etc…), the impact of the petrol schock is on the demand side. I would consider it better if it happenned as a modifier on oil price directly or even on oil supply, since it is the real-life mechanism that oil-producing countries use to make prices go higher. Thus my efforts to diminish oil consumption would be really rewarded in such an event.
Overall, the game is great and I think I will be spending a long time on it ! I’m glad I bought the Beta version : there are many great aspects to the game that I did not talk about since they are already there (the idea of political capital, for exemple) so I hope that what I say will help you make the game even better !
PS : if you have managed to successfully run a country with an opposite approach to mine, tell me about it !