There are those that are blissfully unaware of what the title of this game actually means. Left Behind is an christian real time strategy game based on renovating parts of the city to provide resources to equip people you convert to your side by harassing them with disciples and your favorite music until they join you. These core game mechanics are supplemented with a religious naming schema, amazingly bad AI, and a very dated RTS engine.
Without even bringing up the religious values of this game I can point out how bad this game is. That's right, the fact its propaganda is the absolute least of my concerns. By main concern as a diehard RTS player is that this is the third game in the series and they are STILL USING THE SAME ENGINE AS THE FIRST GAME.
That's right. The absolute best programmers the christian faith has to offer and they can't be bothered to make the game better between releases. Or use a separate engine.
In fact, there is actually a fourth game in the series that nobody cares about. I got my copy free from a "Please for the love of the lord have our game" promotion they were having in which if you liked their facebook they gave you a copy of LB3 free. I paid way too much for it. On the bright side, since the game uses the exact same engine and resources as the last two games its only fair that Left behind 3 still has all of the content from last offerings. Same 3D models, same campaigns, same AI, everything. Left behind 3 has roughly as much new content as a $2 expansion.
I never bothered too much with the games campaigns. The original games campaign follows a man after what could only be (According to a regular right wing lunatic) the Rapture and proof that we must all repent. So he does what any rational, logical person would not do after the rapture. Fly alone
to New York City completely unarmed during what would have to be major rioting, find his fellow right wing lunatic friends, renovate an old church, and convince people god wants them to repent. Then the police do the logical thing and deploy to prevent them from hurting anybody only to be repelled by the power of song.
That brings me to the funniest part of the game. The Tribulation Forces are for some reason referred to as "Good" and the Police are branded "Evil". Forgive me for using logic but when the game feel like an "Occupy Movement" simulator I don't blame the police for wanting to take care of it. The third installment of the game adds the third faction, the Atheists. The Militia are a bunch of nut-jobs. Unlike the religious movements new recruits get a semi automatic rifle and the games tech tree is extremely simplified compared to the other two factions.
Since the militia recruits combat units they absolutely will not hire women while the other two factions have no problem putting them to work as singers and medics but never soldiers. That's right, females are not allowed to use guns in this series. I find it odd the army is immune to religious attacks as well as refuses to utilize females as there is both a long record of greatly honored christian soldiers and female combatants capable of being cited well before the first games release. Oh right, I forgot the games subject matter.
The campaign goes on, and there are also additional campaigns each added by the other versions of the game. The general layout of every mission is "PRAISE DAH LAWD! WE GAHTA GO DO THINGS FOR OUR SAVIAH!" and proceed to riot around the map, invading real-estate to turn into structures dedicated to siphoning the cities resources to a religious militia that if the player chooses can elect to hire soldiers in mass and amidst much praying and shooting simply mow down cops until your religious staff can complete its goal.
There are effectively two kinds of ways to defeat your foes, song and violence. You can either serenade your enemies or shoot them. Of course the game extremely prefers a peaceful approach but only if you are the side of the loonies. The army lacks the ability to be swayed by song and the police can have problems with a military strategy. You see Spirit is rated from 0 to 100, and by music or chanting/swearing the spirit is either raised or lowered depending on your faction. Evil likes low Spirit while Good prefers high. What the game also does not tell you until its too late is that having too many characters with low spirit close to each-other (Like say... a platoon of soldiers) will result in demons manifesting. This is an issue unique to Evil.
Said demons are for some reason not allied with Evil and will begin to wreak great vengeance and furious anger upon the members of the police force that brought it into existence. Quite oddly there are not flaming sword wielding angels that poof into existence to start chopping people apart. This alone requires Evil to play a substantially different way than a Good player can as they need not worry about the penalties of trying to focus on musicians.
Oddly enough, a bunch of hipsters with microphones could not sooth satans thirst for blood
Blatant propaganda fills the dialogue both in the campaigns as well as the voice acting itself. The racist (All recruited characters are bleached white), sexist (Only males can be of any profession), and hostile Tribulation Forces all speak in soft happy voices and their lines are filled with stuff like "Praise the Lord", their units are called nice names like "Worship Leaders". The Peacekeepers on the other hand all resemble the badguys from The Stand, speak in crackly hate-fueled growls, and utilize evil satanic metal music and pop stars. The Army is portrayed as murderous psychotic rednecks with guns. Gee, I wonder who the programmers are rooting for?
But the absolute worst part of the game is not its poor control and graphics. Its not the borderline offensive portrayals of the police and army. Its not the glorification of popping caps for the lord. Its not even the outright negligence in properly designing the game. The worst part of the game is how unplayable skirmish mode is.
The above picture is of an enemy base during a match. In team multiplayer the game's AI freaks out and relies on constantly producing vehicle units. You see the vehicle unit AI is also broken, to this day I have never seen a tank unit be capable of firing its turret. So all the AI will do is crank out units but never actually use them. As a result playing skirmish is pretty much useless. This issue has existed since the first edition as well. Three packaging's of the game and the AI is still broken.
Now to be fair according to the ad-copy of the fourth game many of my gripes have been rectified. Angels, Female Soldiers, and a campaign for the Army. But to be honest the ship has already sailed and the series is a failure in the eyes of true gamers. Never pay a cent for this game, even if you for some reason like the concept of a rts where you obey a invisible deity and openly kill police officers while rioting in his name.
The multiplayer functionality has been turned off for a long time, the stories missions are all the regular uninspired affair of "Build this, do that" with different layouts and enemies faced all the while spouting conspiracy theories. Combined with a functionally useless skirmish AI you have one of the worst RTS games ever made. This game clearly lacked the funding, creative direction, and originality even indie game developers can bring to the table. The Left behind series of games is a terrible plague of bugs and poor design.
Ironically, the core gameplay elements really are not that bad, only half implemented. As evidenced by games like Gangland and Apox the concept of base-expanding while training soldiers is not the problem, the games subject matter is. All of the religious motives of the game greatly bring out the incompetence within and make it all the more painful to sit through.
LOOK WHO CAME: