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American McGee presents Bad Day LA (Windows)

45
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
2.4
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Kasey Chang (3653)
Written on  :  Aug 11, 2007
Rating  :  2.57 Stars2.57 Stars2.57 Stars2.57 Stars2.57 Stars

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Summary

This is not a game, this is a satire as a game

The Good

// Art direction // style // satirical content. The art is comic-y. The characters are comic-y in the Archie-type of a way. The prose is biting without being insulting, and there are "did he just do that!?!?" type of moments.

The Bad

Just about everything else, unfortunately. The game combines repetitive objectives (backwards and forwards through the level), with a bit of free-form play like GTA series. The language is crude (I don't want to use the n-word, but the main character sure behaves like the n-word. He's like Chris Rock at the comedy hours, except even MORE irritating. Game itself is hard to aim and movement is shoddy and jerky. And many elements are just plain mean. One boss fight is a high-tech version of whack-a-mole. A boss-sniper can flit from window to window, and you have to counter-snipe him X times without being killed yourself.

The Bottom Line

Bad Day in LA is basically a satire on the American politics dressed up as a game. It is aimed at mature audiences, as you have to be old enough to recognize the jokes and the satire. However, it is cartoony to emphasize its satirical nature. As a result, it's not that good as a game, and thus, having no real identity. Gamewise, it's roughly a satirical version of Grand Theft Auto III mixed with Half Life, with shoddy controls and repetitive (read: boring) gameplay. Occasional cleverness may illicit a chuckle or two, but overall, the combo just doesn't work that well.

You play as a homeless person Anthony (by choice) who has turned his back on society. Except... When a series of man-made and natural disasters visit upon LA, Anthony will have to decide that the society he tried to get away from, may need a bit of his help after all...

The actual gameplay is in third-person view with cross-hair. At the easiest level, you are automatically resurrected at the same spot if you die. So there's nothing "game-ending". And you are rated on the smileys (good deeds) and frownies (bad deeds) you do. The more good deeds (like putting out fires, healing people, kill terrorists, cure zombies) you do, the more people trusts and want to help you. The more bad deeds (kill civilians, military, law enforcement, random destruction of property) you do, people will start attacking you.

The graphics are cartoony and occasionally even looks a bit cell-shaded. The whole game is rated M despite its cartoonish looks though. As game progresses, you are given more and better weapons. And yes, you get a "weapon of mass destruction" at the end. And no, it's NOT what you think it is.

The problem is the "game" aspect is feels not that well related to the satire. The truth is, the cutscenes are more entertaining than the game itself. The gameplay is repetitive with "hunt for exit" and "what to shoot" puzzles. There are occasional breaks like a rail-shooter level or two, but overall gameplay really disappoints.

If this was launched like Michael Moore's Sicko or Bowling for Columbine, it would have made far more sense. However, it was launched like a regular game, and thus, completely missed the intended audience. Kids won't "get" the satire and parody, the action's repetitive and boring and thus, it only serves to illustrate that American McGee is a better writer and artist than he is a game designer.

If you get it for about $5 or can play it for free, give it a spin, and you'll get some laughs. Else, you may be wasting your money.