Collapsus is decent, if hokey, science fiction; a fairly ludicrous scenario based on genuine energy vulnerabilities; a very badly conceived interactive application; and, in its game portion, extremely primitive.
To take them in order, at the inception of Collapsus, a huge heat wave over western Europe exposes the vulnerability of the UK's electrical grid, causing massive blackouts in London, which apparently persist for several years. This is based on fact; the UK has failed to build nuclear power plants planned in previous years, has also failed to adopt renewable power sources with the alacrity of Germany or the Scandinavian countries, and is increasingly reliant on imported gas for power generation, even as the North Sea oil fields play out. It's entirely plausible that generating capacity will not keep up with demand in the years to come.
Over the course of the story (for this is a story with a mere game appendage), US oil companies and China, in cahoots, apparently fuck the world via a conspiratorial succession of crises: a 'terrorist' explosion at an Uzhbekhi gas pipeline, another 'terrorist' attack on a tanker in the Gulf of Hormuz that cuts off oil supplies for a time, and so on. Again, these are based on real vulnerabilities: the EU is highly dependent on Russian gas deliveries (something that may be alleviated by the spread of fracking technology to Europe, despite its problems), and a huge proportion of the world's oil passes through the Straits of Hormuz. Also, one of the main characters dies in food riots in Angola, spurred by high global food prices resulting from the US's insistence on creating biofuels from corn -- which is indeed silly policy, since tropical sugarcane is a far more efficient source of biofuels, and we restrict such imports, because farm-state senators have disproportionate influence and like subsidizing corn production, while Brazil has no votes in Congress.
However, this is ultimately placing the focus on the wrong things: The problem isn't energy vulnerability, though the UK is particularly vulnerable, but global warming, and the need to decarbonize the economy before we bake to death in our own industrial waste.
Peculiarly, the main characters have American accents, though they are UK-based, and the female lead's mother (who also has an American accent) is a member of Parliament. It's not clear what the logic behind this is; the "game's" "director" is a Yank, though the funding is Dutch. Is this because the Dutch can't tell the difference? Because they're trying to appeal to a global audience, which has seen lots of American movies, and take that as the default accent for English? Or because they're trying to take the sting out of the fact that the US, along with China, is the villain of the piece?
The miraculous end-game solution to the crisis is, ta-dah, solar power satellites beaming energy to base stations on Earth. This was a dumb idea when it was first mooted in the 70s, and nothing has transpired since then to make it remotely more feasible. A better idea is paving the Sahara and Arizona with solar cells, which we could do if we really had to. And who needs Arizona, anyway?
Oh, incidentally, someone should tell the producers that when the power goes out, the mobile network does not, at least for a few hours. Most mobile towers have battery backup. In the last NY blackout, I could use my mobile for about 4 hours before the network failed.
Collapsus is 'played' in three panels, accessible by mouse-move to right and left. The central panel, and the one with which you will spend the most time, is a sequence of videos, following the ten characters of the game, all but one of whom are London-based, though the action moves to Bulgaria, Iran, and Austin. (Alert to developers: Houston remains the center of the Texas oil industry, Austin is home to weird people and governors.) This is the "story" panel, and wholly non-interactive.
To right is the "documentary" panel, although in truth it's mostly fictional news reports about events in the story panel; some of these news reports, however, include talking-heads interviews with current energy experts about such things as the vulnerability of the straits of Hormuz, Russian energy policy, and so on. These are factual and current-world, but often confusingly presented as part of future-world news reports, which somewhat diminishes their effectiveness.
To left is the "interactive" panel, in which you can "play," if that's the word, a boring national energy policy game for the UK (and, oddly, Bulgaria), in which you may invest in new power plants, adjust the mix of current energy production, and (inevitably, as far as I can see) substantially run up the national debt. Operating Bulgaria's energy economy is easier, since they can apparently burn wood instead of Russian gas (Bulgaria is heavily forested? Seems unlikely).
On the whole, I came away from the experience thinking that if this were a made-for-TV movie, I would call it alarmist, but modestly interesting because based on real-world issues; as it is, it makes me wonder why it isn't a made-for-TV movie. The rightmost panel is as non-interactive as the center, the "game" in the leftmost panel is slight, the motion between the panels is awkward, and what really is gained by doing this online?
Collapsus was a finalist in the Transmedia category at the 2011 Games for Change Awards.