Review by jinxmchue
"Not nearly as bad as others say. It's worth getting"
The "hype" some people refer to about this game is the negative hype started and sustained by people with an overt bias against evangelical Christians. Criticisms of the game have been based on, at best, demos lacking the latest patches. At worst (and far more common), the criticisms have been based upon rumors, misconceptions, half-truths and outright lies. People have been criticizing this game without even having read the game manual, much less having played the game. How fair is that? Isn't that what they would criticize and have criticized Christians for when non-Christian games are negatively reviewed?
The truth of the matter is that LB:EF is as good as any other real-time strategy game out there. It's better than some, in fact. Sure, it has its weaknesses. The game, when released, had bugs. What game hasn't had bugs when first released? The game's makers have been very faithful in responding to feedback and have issued game patches from time to time. This is not unusual! In fact, it's virtually the industry norm.
There was also some concern over the adware for the game and allegations of spyware. First of all, THERE IS NO SPYWARE. My computer's protections are always active and completely up to date and I've had absolutely no issues with it warning me of any spyware. (I have to wonder if people who are claiming they are getting spyware warnings have their protections updated.) As for the adware, it's simply a non-issue. The ads in the game are unobtrusive (they're actually made to appear as part of the game) and do not detract from the game anymore than the "adware" in New York City detracts from it.
The graphics are very good. While the character design is strictly mediocre, the recreation of the streets of New York City is downright spectacular! Unlike the claims of other reviewers, the buildings are not simply "boxes with pictures on them" or "grey boxes intended to represent buildings." They are wonderfully recreated from real buildings and include nice touches like the water towers (or whatever those are on top of some buildings), fire escapes, awnings, scaffolding store signs and air conditioners. Even buildings that are all-glass are recreated with simulated reflections. The streets are detailed down to (legible!) street signs, garbage cans and even steaming sewer grates. The street and buildings layout matches the real layout of NYC. One can go into Google Maps or Google Earth and match everything up. They don't always get the cardinal directions right, though, but this is most likely for simplicity's sake. For example, Washington Square Park is depicted as facing perfectly north-south when in reality it's diagonal.
The sounds are also good. The music is not boring or corny. The voice acting is pretty good. Each type of character has various things to say when selected and moved, but also says them in a variety of inflections. This is definitely not the norm for computer games.
The game play is pretty solid with very few issues that have not been resolved with updates. Contrary to many, many, MANY reports (i.e. rumors), there is no "convert or kill" in the game. Let me repeat that so it is clear:
THERE IS NO "CONVERT OR KILL" IN THE GAME.
From the game manual to the game itself to the game's website, using violence to win the game is unequivocally denounced. In fact, I find it impossible to believe that one could win the game at all using violence. Peaceful solutions - even in the face of violence perpetrated against your side - are always encouraged. While your forces can include soldiers, their role is to be defensive, not offensive. You have the option of using your soldiers offensively, but not only will they NOT target any and all non-combatants (a limitation that the opposing forces do not have), but the player is strongly and clearly warned that inflicting casualties is detrimental. It's actually a refreshing change and a challenge to have a game where the goal is not to mow down anything and everything that lies in your path.
Some charge that the game is sexist in limiting female characters to only a few of the types of characters available. While it is true that the choice as to what they can become is limited, critics fail to mention (if they even know) that only females can become the game's most powerful character: the Prayer Warrior (described in the game manual as "the pinnacle of nonviolent warfare"). That hardly sounds sexist to me.
Game support is very good. The game includes a function to report problems directly to Left Behind Games. It also automatically and regularly checks for updates to the game. For other games I've played, reporting problems and tracking down updates was left entirely to the player.
The story line is also very good. The various missions don't get repetitive or monotonous and even include some twists and turns. As far as the "theology" of the game is concerned, the game creators - like the authors of the books - make it clear that their version of "End Times" events is only a possibility and not an absolute. They encourage people to do their own search for answers.
All in all, if one puts aside their biases, they will find that this is an enjoyable, lengthy game that has been treated unfairly and gotten a bad rap.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/07/07
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