O.K. So political simulation isn't anything new to gaming, much less the PC indie scene. I don't have much personal experience with this niche genre, but it seems to me that elements of both hard and soft power are far more detailed and intertwined than anything else that I have seen before in a game.
Players begin by selecting members of the Cabinet and heads of states from "250 personality types and 20 variables including age, gender, political leaning, religion, charisma, competence, popularity, etc." The generic personalities mean that though you can try your best to replicate Donald Rumsfeld, he isn't an actual character in the game. (That's probably a good thing.)The Player President then begins facing internal and external decision-making, and every decision comes with a consequence. The player must navigate budgets, security, education, health care, special interests, and critics. Cut spending, and encounter outrage from special interest groups; raise taxes, and hear the complaints of taxpayers.
In addition to domestic issues, the game proposes to replicate real-world international situations and circumstances with detailed maps showing 192 countries and 8,000 cities, and comes pre-loaded with information on each country, such as unemployment levels, arms production, inflation rates, stock markets, sports, and so forth. To add to complexity, the game also comes with data from 50 international organizations, including the United Nations, NATO, NAFTA and OPEC. Players can determine the course of world events by invading countries, plotting assassinations, brokering trade agreements and spending time with fellow world leaders.
Whew! I will be sure to keep those dirty agnostics out of my administration! ;)
I don't know if this is freeware or not, but keep up with French developer Eversim as more details are to come.
Update: I just figured I would point out that Medieval: Total War I/II and the Barbarian Invasion expansion pack for Rome: Total War do a decent job of integrating soft power through religious elements into an otherwise military based strategy game. These are titles that I do have experience with and I highly recommend the series as a whole.
In many ways, the games seem to parallel the Stanford Prison Experiment in that it will reveal sides of your personality that you never knew existed. ;)