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It’s always been the case, but I’ve noticed
more and more that games will often have to present some kind of gimmick
right away to catch the attention of the media and gamers. Most of the
gimmickry is presented through graphics and that’s exactly what Bad Day
L.A. seems to do. When screens first started appearing on the net, I was
Presented in a cel-shaded visual style (or as it’s officially described,
“super-flat graphical art style”) along the lines of Alien Hominid – one
of my favorite side-
scrolling shooters ever – and an
over-the-shoulder 3rd Person view, Bad Day L.A. shows a strange world of
possibilities. Since the first batch of screens increasingly bizarre
images were released showing the in-game action, including evidence of a
giant wearing a hamburger costume, my mild fascination with the game
increased. I needed to know more because based on style along, the game
What it boils down to is that Los Angeles has been besieged by a
multitude of disasters of biblical and galactic proportions. Your
character, Anthony Williams, is a homeless man that steps into the role
of reluctant hero as he fights his way through real-world Los Angeles
(or at least the developer’s take on LA). While this setup wouldn’t
really bode well for any kind of gripping and/or satirical story, the
developers have “promised” a “deep and comedic story line that plays off
the fear culture of Modern America.” It should also boast some parodies
of disasters flicks, which could allow for some interesting mission
scenarios. American McGee penned the story, so there's also that to
At its core, I’m guessing that Bad Day L.A. will be all about blasting
baddies with the occasional side quest thrown in for good measure. To
accommodate this, the developers are looking to include an assortment of
conventional and, no doubt, unconventional weaponry.
If you’re thinking like me, you’re probably remembering Stubbs the
Zombie: Rebel Without a Pulse after reading the information above. That
game has most of the elements that Bad Day L.A. is trying to combine –
wacky designs, interesting weapons, a strange environment, and a
soundtrack that… no big announcements have been made in regard to the
soundtrack. Stubbs the Zombie featured one of the best soundtracks of
2005, which spotlighted covers of classic ‘50s “pop” tunes by a roster
of indie musicians that complemented the game. The results were superb.
Given Bad Day L.A.’s setting of disasters, alien invasions, and mutants
run amuck, it would be a crying shame if the soundtrack doesn’t feature
homage to disaster flicks.
My only area of concern outside the soundtrack is that there’s mention
of an “easy to learn, hard to master,” control systems. While this might
heighten the mastery required to really become an expert, I’ve always
been wary of developers that make this promise. It could be fine, but
the claim always comes across as one of life’s many impossibilities,
like flying pigs (even if there’s a rumor floating around that a South
Korean lab is cross-breeding pigs with other animals).
On his blog, American McGee notes that as little as six months ago Bad
Day L.A. was "painfully boring" and that there "was no gameplay." That's
not much an endorsement, particularly from the front man on the project.
Of course, as early as November 2005 the gameplay situation seems to
have turned around -- at least according to McGee. (See below for an
excerpt from his blog that explains Bad Day L.A.'s concept of "chaos
management" which will play into each scenario.)
If the development team behind Bad Day L.A. have their heads screwed on
right, they’ll omit multiplayer. If the single-player game is tight and
fun, there’s no need to dilute the experience by stretching resources to
tack-on a multiplayer mode.
Bad Day L.A. is noted to ship Spring 2006, however this may change.
(March 28, 2006)
From American McGee's Blog:
In the past two months the gameplay has grown out of the story and
the world in a very organic way. The concept of “chaos management” as a
gameplay mechanism has matured and now delivers a very addictive and
fast paced bit of entertainment.
The screenshot shows what’s up. [Check the screens above.] You’ll see
that super imposed over the player’s view of the world is a collection
of little round icons. These show the player any and all nearby events
or NPCs that might change the status of the threat advisory for the
level. Burning people, injured people, zombies, terrorists, and mission
points are all represented. If the player ignores people who are on fire
those people will burn to the ground and create a frowny. If an injured
person is allowed to die, same thing. Good events, such as saving people
or killing zombies, will create smilies. Together frownies and smilies
move the threat advisory bar up and down.
The higher the threat advisory the more difficult it is to proceed
towards finishing missions. So the player is forced to balance managing
the local chaos level with moving through the level towards the eventual
goal of escape. We’re still tweaking and tuning it, but when it works it
really works. Not only that, but it fits perfectly with the narrative
and feels pretty original to boot.
Certainly this sort of design by natural evolution isn’t that common,
and brings with it unpredictability and risk, but hey, it’s a lot more
fun than creating “yet another shooter”. I’m very curious to see how the
world is going to react to this one.