Day of defeat.
No one is worse than that guy or gal who insists on sharing their bad day. Whether it’s a waitress who delivers a side of complaints with your burger, a wife who dubs over Battlestar Galactica with a daily traffic report, or a friend who packs a bowl with his sexual frustrations, some people just can’t seem to move on to Tuesday. American McGee is one of those people, and even worse, he wants to be paid for it in his latest game, American McGee Presents Bad Day LA.
While some bad days have made for great adventures, Resident Evil
springs to mind, Bad Day LA
not one of them. Combining a lame plot, irritating characters, repetitive missions, and off-target third-person shooting, this bad day feels even worse than January first.
It dawns when terrorists attack Los Angeles with biological weapons. Great, green clouds of noxious fumes turn civilians into barfing zombies, at which point your character, a homeless man's Tyrone Biggums
, decides it’s time to get out of dodge. It’s not that easy, though. To save his own hide, he’ll have to take care of a zombie child, deliver a chainsaw wielding Latino to a hospital and save the entire population, one by one, from cuts, fires, zombie-osis and terrorists all while surviving gang wars, earthquakes and an entire decade's worth of bad news.
On your journey across L.A., you’ll meet several characters, all of whom have foul mouths and cynical outlooks. Hearing grandmothers cuss is terribly funny when you’re twelve, but for everyone else this game’s constant stream of profanities and misanthropic acts will get tired after about the fiftieth middle finger. Too bad it’s rated M.
While breaking levels into various calamities is a good idea, American McGee executes it badly. The levels are all strictly linear, and the objectives repeat over and over. You either have to kill ten zombies, kill ten terrorists or save ten people. So you run around in a third person perspective, shooting or extinguishing zombies, getting blasted by terrorists, and waving bandages at victims until, eventually, you decide to call it a night.
To make matters worse, you’re subjected to a Grand Theft Auto
-style wanted meter called the Threat Advisory System, which not only increases every time you kill innocents, but when they die near
you. Did we mention you’re in the middle of a colossal disaster zone? People die all the time, and it’s usually their fault for running into infernos or hiding in clouds of green smoke. With every innocent death, the citizens become more hostile, until suddenly they all want you dead for not saving hard enough. This must be what happened to Jesus
Unless you can miraculously pop off a ton of good deeds all at once, they’ll kill you. This is where the game gets most of its difficulty, because if you aren’t paying attention, the world completely turns on you. As a result, you’re forced to fastidiously cure every burn victim, bleeding innocent and zombie, of which there are dozens on any given screen. This would be okay if your recently cured burn victim didn’t immediately run back into the fire, but then, maybe they don’t want to be saved. Damn heretics.
I can’t blame them, because Bad Day LA is really frustrating. At one point, a police officer gave me a sniper rifle and asked me to kill a sniper. As soon as I shot him down, his police buddies turned and filled me full of holes. It might be social commentary, but it’s definitely another cheap, unavoidable death in a game were life is way too fragile, and ammo too scarce. When you aren’t getting shot by the cops, you’re probably running out of bullets fighting the extremely lethal (and well-stocked) terrorists.
Your only real payback comes in the game’s few rail shooting segments. As you careen through Los Angeles, blowing up terrorist trucks and mowing down zombies, you feel like you’re playing a really good flash game. Then the rail shooter ends, and you’re back to playing a bad one.
One thing you never forget, though, is that Bad Day LA
runs on budget technology. Mobs will get stuck in narrow passages and bar your way, people will be flung through the air by explosions that never happened, and you will constantly jump inside
of fences while trying to make your way over. The collision detection is terrible, the A.I. frequently mistakes flight for fight, and buildings routinely pop into view from nowhere. And while Bad Day LA
’s visuals are unified by a unique, gritty, cel-shaded art style, they suffer from reused textures, few skins, and clunky animations.
The music, with its ironically happy themes and generic art school riffs, provides a constant reminder that American McGee is more pretentious and oddly named than talented, and the endlessly repeating sound bytes agree. You can turn down the volume, but you’re better off turning down this game.
That’s harsh, but so are the graphics, the A.I. routines, the missions, the gameplay, and the characters. It isn’t broken and contains a few humorous bits, but so do the plethora of free flash games we offer in our Goodies section
for free. We recommend heading over there, and crossing this bad day off your calendar for good.