Bad Day L.A. Preview

American McGee, former programmer for the Quake and Doom series, branched out and developed the macabre Alice for Electronic Arts, and later Scrapland for Enlight Interactive. McGee,s games, to say the least, are often bizarre. We haven,t seen any games from McGee since Scrapland, but he,s been busy as a bee and has produced his next epic, called Bad Day L.A. We were able to pick up a demo of the game and let me tell you, the Mickey Mouse Club this definitely isn,t.

Right off the bat, (spoiler!) the game blasts into high gear with animated scenes of every imaginable disaster. Newspaper headlines flash before your eyes proclaiming floods, meteor showers, earthquakes and train crashes. To top it all off, a plane full of terrorists with biological weapons is headed straight for the Santa Monica Freeway in Los Angeles during rush hour. That’s a terrible commute, even by L.A. standards.

The plane crashes, and your run of the mill citizens are infected by a horrible gas that turns them all into raving lunatics. The citizenry goes on rampage in the freeways and streets of LA and Anthony Williams, a homeless man, is caught up in all the mayhem. He turns out to be a most unlikely hero who saves victims, cures the infected, puts out fires and just for good measure, blasts a few terrorists to smithereens.

Needless to say, Jack Thompson would not approve of this title.

When this game was first fired up on my computer, the dramatic beginning had me hooked. “What kind of a game is this, anyway?” I asked myself. The graphics immediately reminded me of those in Grand Theft Auto. The scenery, people and various objects all have that gritty comic book artwork look, which is as successful here as it has ever been. As I recovered from the slam-bang intro of the game, I took control of Anthony Williams. He is taking full advantage of the humongous traffic tie-up and is hitting people up for spare change, only to be rudely rejected by the impatient motorists. From this point on, all signs of normalcy go out the window.

The game is an adventure-action game, which plunges you directly into the middle of a city about to explode-an airliner crashes on the freeway, biological chemicals splash upon motorists and bystanders, and people who would normally avoid you are asking you for help. Think of this game as a disaster comedy. Yes, comedy. The opening minutes of the game had me reeling back with confusion, and the scenes actually caused me to laugh at what I was observing. (It,s a good thing I was alone in the room while I was playing this demo.) One guy, in obvious distress, was running around on fire. I was asked by a local resident to put the fire out. Not as simple as it seems. I had to chase the hombre enfuego around until I finally caught up with him–not as easy as it sounds here. But for some strange reason, the whole incident seemed like something out of a slapstick comedy–either that, or I have a very troubled mind.

Luckily for me, it turns out that this was exactly what American McGee wanted, and I don,t need counseling after all. The game is a riot, in the weird-funny sense of the word. You roam the freeways and neighborhoods in L.A., trying to be a good guy, while the people around you try to shoot, stab, hit, pounce, kick, yell, scream, swear and beat the stuffing out of you. The game is an odd mix, producing contrary emotions that will either have you instantly enamored, or give you the feeling that you immediately need to chuck it out the window. There doesn,t seem to be a middle ground for this game.

There is an awful lot of violence, swearing and adult oriented themes, so naturally, the game carries an “M” rating. Case in point: during the early stages of the game, you are asked to bring a small boy to an ambulance. He has been infected with the dreaded biotoxin, and needs help fast. As you run through the car packed freeway, and onto an off ramp that leads to a neighborhood, the youngster is constantly barfing up green goo, and unfortunately, some of it lands on you too. Normally, this is a pitiful proposition, but the constant “bleech” the kid makes is somehow funny. You,ll have to play it to understand this odd mixture of tragedy and comedy.

The game controls use the standard ASWD key configuration, mouse and F1 buttons to select various weapons and articles that are picked up off the street. As you are fighting against terrorists and try to save the city from doom, a catchy little tune occasional plays. This tune, and I am warning you now, will embed itself into your mind–you,ll be whistling the music for days on end. The music is totally inappropriate for the violent scenes, and this juxtaposition is part of what makes it all so funny. The dialogue between the characters will also either have you blushing or laughing or both. The language in the game is salty, and you may need to wear earphones or lower the volume when you play with the family at home.

However, this game may also tire you out as well. The game is task based, sort of like Animal Crossing for adults-meaning that you are constantly running from place to accomplish tasks or search for items, places, or things. This may wear thin after awhile, but since we only were able to play the demo version, more variety to the game may surface in the full version.

Who will like this game? Those with twisted humor, an eye for the strange and offbeat, and people prone to eating bananas with the skin still on. (Just joking.) If you liked Alice or the Grand Theft Auto series, you might be interested in Bad Day L.A.

Bad Day L.A. will ship on August 21st and be available for PCs running Windows XP. The game carries an ESRB rating of M, and has a MSRP of $29.99.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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