Note: The staff at is neither anti-christian nor anti-religious, just anti-crappy video games.

Left Behind 3: Rise of the Antichrist is the third in a series of RTS video games based on the book series of the same name. Left Behind takes place after the Rapture. For those of you who slept through Sunday school, that’s the day when god comes to take all good Christians to heaven to be with him, leaving only their clothes behind. Naturally panic and fear set in, with people’s loved ones disappearing out of the blue. A man named Nicholae Carpathia steps up and takes control of everything, reorganizing the U.N int the newly re-christened Global Community Peacekeepers, so now order is restored to the world. Only one problem: Carphathia is the antichrist. Now it’s up to the Tribulation Force, a ragtag group of new Christians, to stop them and spread the lord’s word. It’s out there, but it’s not like it’s the strangest premise in video gaming. I mean, this week’s $20 Game of the Week has you playing as a sentient blob of meat out to rescue a girl made of bandages from a fetus in a tuxedo for crying out loud.

A lot of fuss has been made of the more controversial elements of the series. To be far, the gameplay isn’t exactly convert-or-kill, (as you get no rewards for killing) so much as it is convert. Unfortunately, that’s where the problem comes into play. You see, to create a unit, you need your disciple to recruit a neutral unit to your side, at which point they become a friend woman or friend man. Then you send them to the proper building to have them become whatever you need them to be, for instance send them to the barracks to become a soldier, or the hospital to become a doctor. You also have to keep an eye on their spirit levels and have them pray often. If their spirit level dips below 60, they turn back into a neutral unit, at which point your disciple has to re-recruit them, and have them retrained. To upgrade them, you have to send them back to the proper building to receive advanced training. Now lets compare this to say, Rise of Nations (which is developed by Big Huge Games who allegedly had a hand in the second game’s development). When I need to create a unit in RON, all I have to do is click on the desired building, click the unit I need, and wait until it’s constructed. When I’m ready to upgrade said unit, then all I have to do is click the proper button after meeting the prerequisites. Oh, did I mention that only certain genders can hold certain jobs? What is this? The 1950s?

It gets worse when you factor in the enemy’s ‘influencer’ units, which for the GCP include band members, rock musicians, and pop stars. Pop stars? Now I hate Britney Spears and Justin Beiber as much as the next man, but bubblegum pop singers being pawns of the antichrist? Kinda makes you wonder how the game would view rappers. Actually there are none in the game, so methinks that god loves hip hop! Who would imagine? Anyway, these influencer units have the ability to drop your spirit level by a huge amount if you get hit by their attacks, and if it’s low enough, it will drop down to zero, turning your unit back into a neutral unit. Oh, and if all you have is one unit, then you basically fail the mission. This makes very little sense from a gameplay and religious standpoint. It makes things frustrating (such as in the game’s very first mission you have to take a single unit through the city avoiding these influencer units), and really, if one’s faith in Christ can be shaken by a wicked-ass guitar riff, then how powerful can the word truly be? Of course you have your own influencer units as well, so it evens out. I should probably get into buildings as. To obtain a building, you have to use a builder unit to acquire a neutral building of a certain type, then have him (builders are males only) move inside and turn the building into what it is you need. For instance you need a military building to become a barracks, a medical building to become a clinic, and so on. Now once again, lets compare this to say, Age of Empires, where all I have to do is click on my villager, then direct him or her to build whatever building I need to build, and provided I meet the required prerequisites, my building is constructed within seconds. As a plus in the game, you earn resources by building banks and food courts to gather food and money automatically, so you don’t have to worry about resource gathering.

There is multiplayer for up to 8 players online, but good luck finding anyone online. The multiplayer gives you the option to play for the antichrist, which is pretty questionable in a christian-oriented game. However there are few differences between the factions, other than the names of some units and the fact that you need low spirit energy to recruit units to the side of Satan. Of course all maps are basically the same bland cityscape, and in one of the most blatant forms of sucking up/in game advertising in video games, it seems that Gamestop/EB games will exist long after the apocalypse. A scenario editor would help, or at least a better variety in environments.

So in the end, while Left Behind Games may have made some progress since the first entry in the series, there hasn’t been much improvement since the original game. What the game’s developers set out to do was admirable, but once again due to the flawed execution, it has becomes a complete mockery of itself. As I said before, if developers want to get gamers to go to church it will take more effort than here. So in the end, I don’t mock LB3 because of it’s theme, I mock it because it’s a sucky game.