Well here’s an odd little distraction – Foreign Legion: Buckets of Blood arrived on Steam yesterday. I’d not heard anything about it, but the cheap price of £5.24 (25% off the normal price) and the rather nice simplistic art style persuaded me to drop the money and give it a go. Obviously, from the Steam description it wasn’t going to be the most subtle of games, but was it worth the money?
FL:BoB is essentially a game made up of a defend the objective level that you might find in any other Third Person Shooter – You are told to keep the town hall in a desert village safe by killing everything that moves towards it. That is, essentially, the entire game. There only seems to be one level (despite the steam description saying “A broad range of difficulty and levels with action-packed fun for both casual and veteran players!”), and it’s pretty much the same every time you play. Obviously, there are different difficulties available, and a set of Steam acheivements which you can pretty much breeze through in one or two plays through (except a couple of harder ones which I haven’t attempted yet).
There are a number of weapons, and that number is 5. There are a number of different types of enemies, and that number is 3. And there are chickens which you can shoot for some unknown reason. That is, essentially, the entirety of the game. So rather than continue this review, I’ve decided to look at the game elements as if the developers were trying to say something about the war in the Middle East, which they clearly weren’t. It could be a stretch.
This is very clearly an anti-war game. It might seem like the extensive death and fast pacing glamorise war, but look deeper and you can see an intricate web of ideas the developer has included to get their point across about the war in the Middle East, and the US army in general. First of all, the setting; It seems at first as if you are attempting to save a number of civilians who are barricaded inside a town hall from an entire Rebel army. This is all very clear cut – killing civilians is wrong, and whatnot. However, the game introduces a social commentary on the war which might not be apparent at first.
To begin with, the game seems to criticise the US’ approach to the war in the Middle East by including the shootable chickens. ‘What?’ I can hear you say, ‘How can chickens be used to portray the military tactics of the United States, the the flaws contained therein?’. Well, it’s quite simple. The game actively encourages you to shoot the chickens around the village without any thought as to why. So, should you succeed in ‘saving’ the civilians in the village, you have effectively wiped out their food supply and means to survive. This is directly comparable to the US tactics in the Middle East, the game seems to be saying, and we should do something about it.
The game also criticises what it views as a hugely bloated military spending budget, by giving the player access to vastly powerful, and frankly unnecessary guns and equipment which are poorly suited to the situation. For example, the game allows the player access to “personal air-raid support” as they put it, exemplifying the overspending on the military. This is compounded with the ability to call in supply crates via plane at any time, and the fact that the player is actively encouraged to waste ammo on shooting chickens. This certainly is a damning view on the war that the game is taking.
The criticism of the war does not end there, however. The developers went even further, and made the enemies you will be fighting very similar in appearance to yourself. While some may think this is simply the developers trying to avoid a racism row, an educated eye will spot the developers pushing the idea that the people you are shooting are just like you. They too have families, dreams and hopes, and your entire purpose in the game is cutting those potential friends down in a hail of bullets, rockets and bombs. For shame. The player on the other hand, can take a barrage of bullets remarkably unscathed. This could be attributed to the similar nature of all video games, but I see beneath that, to the developers saying ‘You see? America can take the violence, but these poorer countries cannot. You’re destroying what you seek to save.’
Finally, the developers even put little criticisms into the environment for the socially aware player to pick up on. In the background of the map there is an oil pump, working tirelessly throughout each round, reminding everyone exactly what the US stands to gain from wars in the Middle East.
Well done, Foreign Legion, you’ve acted far more bravely than I could ever hope to. Well done.
(*Disclaimer* I obviously don’t believe that the developers put these criticisms into the game, nor do I wholly believe the criticisms made. It was a joke.)
[Edit] As was pointed out in the comments, I didn’t really say whether it was worth purchasing. I’m still not entirely sure, but if defence missions are your thing it might be worth a pop. Otherwise, I’d give it a miss.