Bad Day LA


posted 9/29/2006 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PC
Thankfully you aren't alone in this battle to save Los Angeles. Along the way Anthony will run into four computer-controlled characters that will run around killing zombies and doing their best to help you. The supporting cast includes a sick kid, Juan the Mexican yard worker, Beverly of Beverly Hills and the Sergeant (which is a mix of George W. Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger). None of these characters are very interesting; most of them are reduced to nothing more than bad stereotypes. They also can't be killed, even though they have a life meter, it never seems to matter how much heath they have left. It's also quite difficult to use them to your advantage, since you can't order them around. There are times where you may be happy to have somebody helping you, but most of the time you won't even notice they are there.
You control your character much like you would a first-person shooter, running and gunning your way to safety with the aid of the keyboard and mouse. This works well enough, but the game never requires you to do anything interesting so it's hard to care much about how the game plays. From time to time you will be asked to jump on far away platforms, but most of the time you will just be running around and trying to avoid all of the chaos around you.
Speaking of chaos, the game has this funny way of blaming you for all of the bad things that are going on. Instead of having a wanted meter (like in Grand Theft Auto), Bad Day L.A. gives you a threat meter, similar to the color-coded system the Homeland Security Department uses. As you tour Los Angeles you will need to use your fire extinguisher to help people that are on fire and save zombified civilians who have a cloud of chemicals around their heads. If you do not save these people in time your threat meter goes up. As that meter increases you will have a much tougher time dealing with people on the street, since they will be throwing things at you and generally getting in your way. I understand what the developers were going for with this kind of set-up, but there's no reason you should be blamed when somebody is burned to death.
Bad Day L.A. has a unique look going for it. Instead of going for a realistic tone, the developers have wisely opted for something that looks like a comic book. Unfortunately even this cartoon look disappoints. It's easy to get into the artwork in the early levels; it has a cool hand-drawn quality to it that is fun to look at. But as you progress through the game you will notice all of the corners the developers cut in order to get the product out the door. There are only a few different character models, so you will end up seeing repeating civilians more than you would like. There are also a lot of small graphical glitches that take you right out of the action. The game doesn't look bad, but it has a somewhat dated look that doesn't stay interesting the entire way through.
But the real problem with this game doesn't come in the way of ho-hum controls, boring level designs and repetitive missions; instead Bad Day L.A.'s biggest crime is that it's just not very funny. With its outlandish characters and over-the-top situations you would expect it to be a laugh riot, but the game fails at every attempt to be humorous. The jokes are about as subtle as an earthquake and too many of them rely on bad stereotypes and low-brow humor. I enjoyed what they were trying to do, but I didn't find myself laughing at much in Bad Day L.A.
Bad Day L.A. is a game I really want to enjoy. I went into the game expecting to enjoy all of the crazy disasters, but I quickly found that there wasn't that much to love. Bad Day L.A. had the potential to be a really exciting take on the action genre, but instead it lingers a little too long in pit of low-brow jokes and stereotypes. As an action game it's merely average, but as a comedy it fails on every level. You may think that Anthony is having a terrible day, but you will quickly discover that the real bad day comes when you're stuck at home playing Bad Day L.A. 

Bad Day L.A. has all of the ingredients to become a memorable action game, but somewhere along the way the developers mixed in something sour to create one of the most disappointing games of the year.

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