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Stuck Behind July 28, 2008

Filed under: Specific games — haounomiko @ 3:48 pm
Tags: ,

Several days ago, Sasarai and I tried out the Left Behind game. Yes, this is a game based on the poorly-written Christian rapture novel series.

The intro was a cheesy film about the situation of the books, where a lot of people have been raptured up to heaven and no one who is “left behind” really knows for sure what is going on. Apparently even turning to the Christian God for guidance doesn’t necessarily help, because the intro and the game alike are filled with people who have decided post-rapture to become evangelical Christians and are nonetheless still hanging around in post-apocalyptic Earth. The company’s introduction included a re-creation of Michaelangelo’s famous painting “The Creation of Adam” in moderately bad 3-D graphics. I am not normally one to criticise a game just because its graphics aren’t state-of-the-art, but I do think it would have been better if they’d used a picture of the actual painting instead of a 3-D recreation; it didn’t look as nice and they weren’t impressing anyone with their rendering skill.

The premise of the game is that your characters are newly-born-again Christians trying to recruit others to their faith, in a world filled with neutral uninvolved people and evil Satanic rock musicians. You have to recruit others to your cause and train them to help you build your own city, while dodging evil music flung at you by Satan’s minions and trying not to get them stuck behind each other in little groups. The gameplay and interface are somewhat reminiscent of Civilizations, and during the tutorial, I found myself getting somewhat addicted to auto-evangelizing new friends so I could send them off to build more housing (because new recruits have to live in Christian housing, even if you don’t have room for them). Frustratingly, I kept recruiting “Friend Woman” units instead of the male “Friend” units, and the former are only able to do two jobs, neither of which were particularly useful to me; male units, on the other hand, could take any job, and thus were far more useful. My collection of “Friend Woman” nurses in little white dresses couldn’t do anything but stand around outside of the hospital, and I longed to be able to send them off to join the construction workers. So much for encouraging respect for women. Nonetheless, I had my hands full with recruiting and building, and I managed to make interesting progress despite the game’s handicapping the abilities of half my population. I had plenty of busy little deviantly-male bees anyway.

Unfortunately, once the tutorial ended and I started story mode, the gameplay took a nosedive. To survive the first mission, I had to stand in one place and repeatedly wait for the “Pray” command to raise my stats before I was able to safely walk down the street. Beginning a game with the task of “stand here and click this icon every thirty seconds” is not exactly a great hook to get players interested. It improved a little after that, but it seemed like it was going to be at least a handful of missions before I got to do any of the more fun city-building tasks; for the moment it was all about walking down the street without getting hit by evil music. Thumbs down for the slow-to-start-up design. I presume that later on I’ll get to build my base up more and create armies, although I’m going to try not to use the military units because attacking the enemy seems so un-Christian and not in keeping with the premise of the game. At present I’m just trying to figure out how to shake the evil musicians off my tail if they manage to start pursuing me when I only have a handful of civilians to begin with.

Overall I’d say that the gameplay is sort of mediocre, though I can see how it could become addictive later on. But I personally would rather play Civilizations, where the goal is to increase science and development instead of decreasing it via gospel music. Call me a heathen, but I like having the technology to do things like, say, play games.


6 Responses to “Stuck Behind”

  1. Tellurian Says:

    So the latest theological explanation for the problem of hell is “God didn’t leave anyone behind; they just got stuck”? I still argue that in that case, God is responsible for the poor design of the collision detection….

  2. haounomiko Says:

    At least God created effective airbags in case of collision.

  3. Karl Says:

    A recreation of “The Creation of Adam” also really, really puts the wrong images in my mind. Perhaps there will be poorly rendered 3-D cutoffs and a fleeing God in the bad ending?

  4. haounomiko Says:

    When reloading the game, I noticed that they actually did put shorts on Adam!

  5. Karl Says:

    Wow… I guess we know why they rerendered it, then. Also, was George Sr.God originally wearing a nightshirt?

  6. haounomiko Says:

    He was originally wearing something that looked very similar to the screenshot, but might have been a draped cloth and was less clearly a nightshirt.

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