Al-Qaeda has made a computer game, and it’s pretty shit, but it’s a great way to waste a few minutes of lunch. It seems that Al-Qaeda are getting a little bored of getting bombed by the French in Mali. Most people would probably either retreat, or accept the truth of the matter and defeat them in a real war but instead Al-Qaeda has decided to create its very own video game that, to a certain extent, speaks of a different reality.
Now I’m not sure if they have an equivalent of EA games or Nintendo over there, but this online-based game doesn’t really stand head and shoulders above other video games. The actual game is loosely based on Space Invaders although somehow it manages to have worse graphics than Space Invaders despite being made about 50 years after it. Smooth. I tried to get hold of EA and Rockstar games, but neither replied, so I guess they were not very impressed with the graphics or gameplay. Oh well, there probably isn’t going to be a GTA6 Mali edition anyway.
From the initial look of it I’m not sure if the game even has a title, but this could be just down to my huge lack of Arabic, and not being able to translate the title. So I decided to give it one myself: French Invaders, Osama’s Revenge. I think this helps show the roots of the game in video game history, whilst simultaneously allowing a sort of terrorist fist pump in honour of the dead leader.
You, taking the role of the heroic Al-Qaeda fighter pilot, control a plane that Darth Vader would be proud of. Now I’m not super clued up on fighter planes, but this one looks pretty stealthy. Considering that Al-Qaeda’s specialities lie in hacking jets, it seems a little ambitious to suggest they have access to this dark-lord inspired, space-jet of the future.
As in Space Invaders, you have to shoot down a succession of never ending French jets, which are of course covered in the French flag – another realistic addition.As the merciful infidels rush forward, you are left to hover over a bit of non-descript desert, as the French jets manoeuvre all over the screen, firing missiles at you. Of course you can fight back, but it seems a little surprising that the arguably more technologically advanced French jets die after one hit, whereas the Al-Qaeda jets can take up to 10 hits. Not bad really.
The weaponry is pretty equal, although after my third attempt on the game, I discovered this little black box in the bottom left was also a weapon. Clicking on this little button releases some fuck-off laser beam that destroys anything in its life-sucking path. I’m not sure whether we should perhaps be scared of this and it is a sign of what they are developing, but it makes the game a little easier.
After a long, hard dogfight with the ‘dastardly Frenchies’, you will eventually take your final hit. Across the screen pops up some Arabic, which apparently says: “Congratulations, you have been martyred.” After hearing the translation, I wasn’t sure whether to be proud or not. I like people saying congratulations to me, but when it is in the context of martyrdom it is a little more ominous.
According to the Middle East Media Research Institute who keeps an eye on Islamic militants, the game is even playable on a tablet… Yes now I can even destroy French planes in the actual battlefield or on your way to work.
What is most intriguing is that the French-jets must really have scared Al-Qaeda in Mali. Not being able to actually destroy real jets, the troops are left to play this game as a little moral booster. This is not exactly the first time nations have used popular media to compensate for their losses in war. Take The US in Vietnam, when the shit hit the fan, along came Rambo to win a film war instead. Perhaps then this game is a poor man’s Rambo – it’s pretty easy to kill the enemy but the budget is just a tad less.
I wonder if in a few little tents, there are groups of AK-wielding nerds sat around a PC from the 90’s playing this game. Maybe they even have little leagues of who can kill the most virtual French planes. Whatever they are doing with the game, my high score is 40, and I’m pretty sure that that must be up there somewhere amongst the high scores.
I’m not sure that claiming you are an Al-Qaeda martyr is a good thing, even if it is only virtually, but this game is somehow addictive. Its simplicity makes you want to come back for more, and destroy more French planes… Shit, maybe I’ve been indoctrinated, better go back and kill some terrorists on Call of Duty and remember why this game is actually so awful.
You can have a go at the game here.
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