Reviewed: January 2, 2007
Released: November 7, 2006
Left Behind: Eternal Forces by Left Behind Games is the video game based on the best-selling novel Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Following the Rapture that brought all the true believers of God to heaven you must try to resist the heathens and recruit other believers to create an army against the Anti-Christ back on earth. This Anti-Christ is building his own army of rockers, cultists and general bad people to rule the earth and do what bad guys do.
This may sound like a pretty simplified explanation of the game but Left Behind doesn’t get much more specific than this. The story is there if you haven’t read the book but is explained quickly to get you into what action there is. The entire premise of Left Behind gets kind of lost in the bland gameplay that has you running all over several blocks of New York City and recruiting other believers.
Using your typical strategy gaming format Left Behind has you accomplishing the major goal of finding and recruiting other people to the army of God. You play various roles in missions starting with some simple goals and recruit others to your side of the fight against evil. They also throw in objectives like creating banks, café’s and medical facilities to help your recruits live and survive in the ravaged New York City after the Rapture has delivered so many people to heaven.
The storyline is one that could have been built on and used to a good variation in the genre but they took their sweet time to get any thing done in the game. The first five missions will show what I mean with the first starting you out playing Leonard Lindelof trying to meet two other believers in New York City - end mission one when you meet them.
Mission two has you recruiting eight friends to become your fellow believers by walking up to them and explaining to them about the rapture and Christ and other Christian stuff to convert them. End of mission two as long as you avoided the heathens that are running around the city trying to stop you with their bad music and blinding lights of whatever.
Level three has you creating a café by training a builder from a new convert that then renovates a vacant building into a place for you to feed your flock. Level four has you starting over with the building by creating a café, bank and chapel and also finding a guy several blocks away that would be perfect to direct your choir.
Now level five only has you creating your café and bank then training one of your characters as an Evangelist to do a better job at recruiting converts. You also have to meet Bruce and bring him back to your church. He’s also several blocks away from your starting point with all those heathens in the way waiting for you to try to slide past.
You get the point that not only do they continually repeat several aspects of building your flock and finding others who are an important, I guess, part of your missions. They have added in things so repetitively that it gets really annoying really fast. Add to this the fact that if any of your main characters faith falls below a certain number they will convert back to a neutral character and you loose the mission.
The goals in Left Behind are ones that are very basic and you end up wondering why you keep doing the same things all over again. You also have the bad guys running around the place trying to convert you and your flock back to neutral characters or worse into evil doers. They seem to put people you need to meet on the other side of your map to spend the time just going to find them.
The goals and missions are bad enough with mostly converting neutrals to friends but they add in things like protecting a church when you can’t attack the vehicle that shoots at it. They have added in other annoying parts like having to pray every few minutes and having you continually renovate buildings you already renovated previously instead of continuing with these foundations from prior missions.
Other annoyances stem from the interface, scripting and AI. You need to micromanage each character along their way if you send them on a goal or they may get set upon by heathens or stuck in scenery. You also need to spend a good amount of time just hitting each person correctly that you are trying to convert. With the person walking along and you having to catch the person with your cursor it can be frustrating when you miss by a few pixels.
There is an auto setup to try to have your people do things by themselves but usually it means they will get set upon by the scenery or heathens and you end up losing them. The buildings themselves become an annoyance because your camera can often be stuck inside one and sometimes not get out until you zoom out and then move the position. This becomes frustrating when you are trying to save some of your flock from attacking heathens and trying to maneuver the camera for a view where you can see what is going on.
Try and try again ends up being a big part of Left Behind in many areas like why they have your whole mission fail if one of your characters losses faith. When your faith falls below sixty you will loose your mission instead of having to reconvert that person or something else they could have done with the situation instead of having to start it over. This means when you are attacked by any heathens or worse devils or demons you will have to do some quick praying to boost your faith as well as the regular loss of faith from everyday life among New York City.
Left Behind: Eternal Forces plays like many other strategy games from the “God” view of your camera overhead. Camera movements are pretty standard along with most of the other parts of this game. The games mechanics work fine but they just didn’t do much with what they started with and could have built on as a good basis for a non-violent, for the most part, video game.
The gameplay ends up being a lot of senseless goals and recruiting when you should be able to do something once, learn how and then set this on some kind of automatic setting that works. You get the idea that they wanted to make a more non-violent game that followed the books but this was anything but. The heathens attack and poison your characters, destroy your buildings and generally ruin your day.
The graphics in Left Behind Eternal Forces were pretty average. There are almost no settings for detail or shadows other than shadows on or off and screen resolution size. The buildings look pretty much like one big block with about a dozen or so different buildings in any given scene. The buildings tend to be tall and many times block your view or camera movement.
The people tend to be about a dozen different characters as well with a few bad heathens, a few neutral characters and a half dozen of your good friends. The effects tend to be these blinding flash balls of blue-white for the good people and red-yellow for the heathens when they pray or attack. The gunfire and other effects are also pretty low key and not very good.
The sound effects like gunfire that you would expect to hear were erratic and often didn’t work very well. The theme music in Left Behind: Eternal Forces is from conductor composer Chance Thomas and was pretty good. This was offset by the very repetitive sayings that many of the characters had for things like movement or converting.
While clicking on a spot to move a character they would reply in one of a couple of ways like “Now that’s a good idea” when they could do something or “can’t do that” when they couldn’t. There was also not much in the way of other background sounds or noise so it was pretty quite for the most part other than the theme music.
Left Behind: Eternal Forces takes a long time to get into any kind of action and you get pretty bored very quickly with the repetitive gameplay. Taking this, the interface and control problems I don’t know of anyone that would have the patience to play the game through to the end. I couldn’t find anybody online to play multiplayer after a week, so I know there are others who are not playing this game.
In the game you will also have additional content that is supposed to be educational and informative about aspects of religion, evolution and the bible. These are informative and if you like to read more about these things you can probably just go online to get your fill instead of buying this game.
Left Behind: Eternal Forces includes not only some discussion and informative pieces after each mission completion but a soundtrack from Christian Rock singers and groups that you can access during the game or from the game menu. The discussion and educational pieces are about Christian beliefs and can take you to some websites about Christianity and other religious topics. The information is not only informative but interesting and gives a good insight into Christianity and their beliefs.
Priced at $40 in a time where most PC games are $30 or less, it's really hard to justify any kind of purchase, even when you take into consideration they are packing in the original Left Behind book and a "Pass-It On" trial copy of the game to share with a friend.
Without going into any of the religious aspects and reviewing Left Behind: Eternal Forces solely as a video game I found this to be a waste of time. The gameplay is terrible and I saw better graphics on video games two years ago. I can’t understand all the uproar this game caused because the game in itself is not worth bothering with.
Left Behind: Eternal Forces often does not tell you enough about the goals in some missions and in others the missions are so simple it is merely a matter of time to complete. The gameplay is very repetitive and there is not much content for anyone to be interested in other than the music and the educational and informative pieces after missions. Even Christian gamers and fans of the book will likely be disappointed with Left Behind Games debut title.