The game promises to let players take the role of Palestinian freedom fighters and break what it calls “the cliché of portraying Arabs as Terrorists.”
The game is currently slated for a December 2021 release, and user reviews are currently not available on the platform. However, a free playable demo is available for download.
The story and gameplay combined promise a high-octane action experience, with the story taking place over adrenaline-packed missions on the ground, sea, and sky. It will feature a wide variety of guns, settings, vehicles, and even boss fights.
With its politically charged narrative and contemporary setting, the game itself bears similarities to its influences, such as the Metal Gear Solid and Call of Duty franchises.
Nijm himself has been working on this game alone for around 10 years, and the efforts do show in the initial trailers and gameplay footage. In it, one can see an alternating third and first-person perspective, a variety of environments even Falastini using what appears to be bullet-time mechanics mid-combat as well as shouting “Allahu Akbar.”
Fursan Al-Aqsa will also have a multiplayer mode. Rather than an emphasis on online play, the multiplayer will be split-screen, which, in Nijm’s own words, is “to revive the golden era of 90s shooters.”
The throwback is on full display in that respect, with a notable influence from the classic 90s shooter Goldeneye 007 for the N64, the game which revolutionized first-person shooters and local multiplayer.
And this influence doesn’t just hark back to the gameplay, but to the difficulty.
Though user reviews are not yet available, those who have played the demo have given it positive reviews.
“Fursan Al-Aqsa immediately harkens back to classic shooters – it always feels dangerous and tense,” noted PCGamesN reviewer Ian Boudreau.
“I’m really impressed with the quality of the animations – Ahmad’s actions all look amazingly fluid and natural, even with the game’s throwback vibe. This is a seriously terrific piece of work as well as an important perspective that we have never seen in a shooter before.”
“Since I was little I’ve always seen that here in the West, in movies and video games, Arabs were portrayed as terrorists, so I always wanted to change that image, and as I’ve always liked games since I was little, I decided to create this game of mine to show that Arabs are not terrorists, but they fight for the freedom of their people,” he said.
The game is not the first to touch upon the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, though it is arguably the most impressive in terms of quality. The conflict is only rarely touched upon in gaming, but these games do exist.
The most famous of these games was PeaceMaker, a strategy and government simulation game developed by ImpactGames and released in 2007 in which the player tries to bring about a peaceful two-state solution while managing social, political, and military decisions. PeaceMaker was met with critical success and was praised for its mature take on the conflict, and it is currently free to download for PC via Softonic.
Other games have been less peaceful in their aims. During the 2014 Gaza conflict, a slew of small games was released by both Israelis and Palestinians, most of which was widely panned for being hateful and inciting violence.
The political views of Fursan Al-Aqsa are very blatant throughout. Palestinian flag-colored fists along with many proclamations of From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free in both the games and promotional material.
However, as far as Nijm is concerned, the game is in no way antisemitic or discriminatory.
“The plot of this game is a fictional history inspired by real facts. Even the political and military groups depicted on the game are fictional,” reads a disclaimer on the game’s website.
“In this game, the player does not shoot Israeli civilians, women, children, elderly, only soldiers. Also in this game, there are NO images of sexual content, illicit drugs, religious desecration, hate of speech against any group, ethnicity, or religion, [antisemitic] propaganda against Jews, Nazi propaganda, or boasting of any terrorist groups and/or other unlawful acts. This game only contains the virtual representation of the Palestinian Resistance Movement against the Israeli Military Occupation, which is officially recognized by the United Nations.”
Fursan Al-Aqsa has also been approved for release by the Brazilian Justice Department and has been given an 18+ rating.
Despite being released in 2021, the game will be playable on older console generations, specifically on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. It will also be available on PC, and can even be run on Windows XP.