Sunday, January 14, 2007

Left Behind: Eternal Forces - A review of levels one and two

Chalicesseurs may recall that a few weeks ago, I requested somebody buy me the "Left Behind" video game, promising you a review of the game.

I recieved the game.

I've played the game.

There's a good reason why that review hasn't appeared yet.

I REALLY suck at it.

I can't get past level 2. And despite the fact that it has an interface and gameplay feel similar to "Warcraft," there's no skirmish option allowing one to just have a battle against the computer. You have to run the missions in order. And I can't get past mission 2, where you have to recruit 8 people to the army of God. I've been over and over the game board. I can only find seven people and I keep getting killed by street gangs.

Faced with the situation and my own desire to review the game, I did what I think any gamer would do--I looked on the internet for ways to cheat. Non-gamers may not realize this, but when a new game comes out, codes that let you cheat show up on the internet almost immediately. Also "walkthroughs" where someone who has beaten the game describes how to win.

None of that stuff is available for "Left behind:Eternal Forces," which made me wonder if the game has tanked. Message boards about the game exist all over the internet, but they are almost completely empty.
The game's Amazon ranking is 5000th among video games. I searched for just about every game I could think of and couldn't even find one with a lower rank. So, above all, that's good news to people who don't like the game.

Given my suckage at level 2, what I'm going to say here comes primarily from the first two levels and the tutorial. But that actually was enough to get a pretty good idea of the game and the misconceptions people have about it.

First off, you don't run around slaughtering unbelievers. Well, not exactly. Left Behind:Eternal Forces has the people on your side, the people who follow the AntiChrist, and regular people. You can kill the followers of the AntiChrist, who in some cases are trying to kill you, though you can usually sneak around them. Converting the regular people is central to the game. If you kill a regular person, which you have no motivation to do, your "spirit" drops and the unit who performs the killing will likely turn against you unless you make them pray a whole lot.

The focus on conversion is a unusual convention for a video game, and I kind of liked it as a gameplay thing. In the game, the implication is clearly that in one brief conversation a regular person is convinced to join you army and never questions you again. I was talking over the premise with Our-Hero-Charlie-the-Vanquisher a few weeks ago, and he raised the point that he didn't like that in the "Left Behind" books, the Antichrist has a sort of mind control. He can just make a person believe him totally. Not to put too fine a point on it, but in the bible Jesus is pretty good at just meeting people and instantly convincing/bribing them to abandon their wives and children and follow him (Matthew 19:27-29, Mark 10:28-30, but most clearly in Luke 5:8-11). So giving the Anti-Christ an equivilent power seems reasonable.

The violence isn't really a big deal when compared to equivilent games, and again you lose "spirit points" for killing and must pray to regain them. Of course, you can go kill again then. A more interesting mechanic would have been if any unit who killed truly repented and refused to ever kill again and thus had to be retrained as medical troops or carpenters or gospel singers or something. As it is, hitting the "prayer" button feels very automatic and becomes a totally unthinking reaction.

There are no people of color in the "Left Behind" game.

The gameplay is clunky but not awful. TheCSO has a lot more gaming experience than I do, and he says that it's really not very good. I didn't find it particularly distracting, though the scenery gets repetitive after awhile. The music was decent as video game music goes and the tutorial was really good.

TheCSO wasn't a fan of the gameplay, but I like Warcraft-like strategy games and I had fun until I got stuck.

Anyway, so there you go. There was a lot of fuss over a decent-enough game that isn't anything particularly unsual and is flawed, but reasonably fun to play.

CC

5 comments:

LaReinaCobre said...

My roommate received the game from his mother for Christmas. But he traded it in almost immediately for "Need for Speed: Carbon" (a Wii game).

SJR said...

This statement is posted from an employee of Left Behind Games on behalf of Troy Lyndon, our Chief Executive Officer.

There has been in incredible amount of MISINFORMATION published in the media and in online blogs here and elsewhere.

Pacifist Christians and other groups are taking the game material out of context to support their own causes. There is NO “killing in the name of God” and NO “convert or die”. There are NO “negative portrayals of Muslims” and there are NO “points for killing”.

Please play the game demo for yourself (to at least level 5 of 40) to get an accurate perspective, or listen to what CREDIBLE unbiased experts are saying after reviewing the game at www.leftbehindgames.com/pages/controversy.com

Then, we’d love to hear your feedback as an informed player.

The reality is that we’re receiving reports everyday of how this game is positively affecting lives by all who play it.

Thank you for taking the time to be a responsible blogger.

SC Universalist said...

I cant tell for sure, did sjr read your review or is this just "boilerplate" response?

me? Im a non-gamer (unless we're talking UNO)

Steven R

James Andrix said...

Well, I do like the monks in age of empires, they (usually) let you convert enemy forces. I could imagine a cool 'all-monk' game if it was balanced well. I think there's a lot of room in strategy games to expand into affecting the morale and motivation of the troops.

If you kill a regular person, which you have no motivation to do, your "spirit" drops and the unit who performs the killing will likely turn against you unless you make them pray a whole lot......As it is, hitting the "prayer" button feels very automatic and becomes a totally unthinking reaction.

I've been thinking about the swearing of oaths. If we didn't accept the oaths of atheists because they don't believe in ultimate punishment, then wouldn't we need to also disallow the oaths of anyone who believed in a forgiving God?
If morality only comes from external punishment, and certain people are exempt from that punishment, what exactly would the oath mean to them?

I mean regular violent games may not show all the badness of death, but then they also don't suggest it can be erased so easily.

On second thought, maybe they do.

Gaming Enforcer said...

Umm... to beat the second level, just ignore the first two left turns (gang infested) Then after converting 7 of the 8 people, you have to choose an evil musician (make sure your spirt is 100) and convert him.

Keep going at the same guy, (make sure to choose one at the end of the crowd so the other musicans don't lower his spirit.) and then bring him to the chapel as one of your recruits.