The Lebanese Armed Forces has released its first mobile game, its second app this week, coinciding with the Armed Forces Anniversary.
The first app, LAF Shield, was designed to keep up with LAF news as well as help citizens report crimes and suspicious activity. It was downloaded more than 100,000 times and has now been followed with LAF Hero, a game that’s already been downloaded more than 5,000 times and currently holds a 4.9 star rating on Google Play after 907 Reviews, mostly representative of the overwhelmingly warm sentiment the army is experiencing right now in Lebanon.
Response to this game has been largely positive with an abundance of five star reviews, most of which ran along these lines: "Great App It's a great and innovative way for the Lebanese Army to connect with the youth."
However, not all responses were positive, with forums on the Oroom questioning the validity of such efforts when there are bigger problems gripping the nation.
The game itself has some issues. For the most part, it is well polished. It consists of four minigames, the most enjoyable of which (not that that's saying much) is a tower defense game. This top-down tower defense has the player place four different types of units on canyon ridges as hordes of enemies pass below. As the player scrambles to place foot soldiers, snipers, armored vehicles and tanks on these ridges, the enemies increase in number and speed. The game functions well technically but that’s not where my complaints lie.
In this and every other minigame in this application, the scenario gets progressively harder until the player is overwhelmed. Losing is inevitable, winning is impossible. In this game you can only delay the inescapable doom, until 10 attackers (who unmistakably resemble the hordes of Islamic States if they were tiny cartoonish blobs observed from an eagle-eye view) get through the LAF’s defenses and you lose. In fact, after 3 or 4 plays, you’ll find yourself adept enough at this game to reach a point where you’ve filled up all the allotted space to add soldiers or vehicles, and you can do nothing but helplessly watch as the terrorists breach your defenses.
The other games are similarly designed, where you are either a soldier stationed at a checkpoint trying to discern suspects from bits of incomplete information: car shape, license plate, mugshot. One of the fail states in this game mode is a very self-aware “Game over, traffic overwhelmed the city.” Another is a poorly designed obstacle course game where increasingly complicated gestures get you through the same simple obstacles and yet another is a collection of target practice minigames (that’s a minigame within a minigame within an app).
All these games however, end with the same “You lose” splash screen, quite concerning when it’s a game released by the Lebanese Army, meant to boost national moral at a difficult time.