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Bad Day LA : American McGee

03/22/07

  07:05:02 pm, by Nimble   , 626 words  
Categories: Reviews, Games

Bad Day LA : American McGee

It was a game that looked mighty silly on the shelf, and amazingly cheap (I picked up my copy for $15 at Electronics Boutique). Given previous American McGee Presents releases like Alice (they're making a movie out of that!? Holy crokinole!) and Scrapland, I knew that it might not be an Age Of Empires or Half-Life, but expected that it might be fairly well-written and pretty darned quirky.

I have not been disappointed :)

Essentially, you start out at the beginning of the game as a devil-may-care homeless black man, tormenting drivers in Los Angeles rush hour traffic. At this moment, a plane flies overhead and crashes into the highway just a little down the road, releasing biotoxins into the air. This green-gas-emanating toxin turns people not quite into the undead, but turns them into green-gas-surrounded toxin zombies which attack people and spit toxins which can turn others into these bio-zombies.

Though you do not give a rats' ass about the people around you, you find yourself compelled to help, with gauze (to help the wounded) and an ever-recharging fire extinguisher, which not only puts out fires, but can make looters drop what they're carrying and cure the bio-zombie condition.

The general ambiance around you is dictated by a "threat level", in parody of Homeland Security (the loading screen has a parody symbol of Homeland Security with a "Be Good Sheeple" message underneath). If you let somebody die by fire close by (exceedingly common), or shoot or otherwise kill innocent people, you get a "frownie". Three frownies ups your threat level, at which point people will start accosting you even more.

You end up escorting a few people around, including a sick kid barfing green and a Hispanic with a chainsaw. The crash is just the beginning of the disasters - there are earthquakes, terrorists, snipers, flame-throwing gangsters, airport customs officers and tidal waves.

Some parts can get a bit frustrating. People seem to casually wander into fires constantly, and you can end up with many a seemingly unearned frownies. Spotting terrorists can be hard (sometimes you'll just notice yourself getting shot), and they respawn (re-appear) with alarming speed, though you do start getting the hang of where to look for them. I also have been unable to figure out any way to survive once being set on fire, which is especially bad in the burning houses.

The power-up items are nuts :) Porn magazines increase your health, Dr. Julky gives you quad damage, and stepping in dog poo (also dropped by rats if you kill them) makes you stinky, which can be handy to run around without getting accosted.

It can be a lot of fun. The utterly off-beat humour, the occasional shooting during a car chase and even some of the puzzles or wasting bad guys can be a lot of fun. Look for the nail clippers scene (who knew?). Priceless :) You won't always be thanked for your efforts - sometimes, though, it's deserved, because your character is sometimes a bit rogue in their approach to "saving people" :) You can also ask people (but not zombies or angry people) for directions to where you're going next, which helps keep you moving.

Sometimes you will need to conserve your ammo. Setting enemies on fire with the spray can is a great way to do this.

A hint for the big customs lady - she needs to be directly in front of the jet engine when you turn it on or it won't work.

I'm up to the bit with the tsunami, and learning a little bit more about the identity of the protagonist.

Despite the cartoonish graphics, by theme, it's not a kid's game by any stretch, though your world-wise teenagers would probably love it. Ahem. Definitely worth the money spent :)

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