It is safe to say that Hollywood is not afraid of the apocalypse; it feels like practically every day the state of California deals with an unprecedented disaster. Only fuelling the sense of global paranoia and sense of general doom that geopolitical issues are only exacerbating. In 2006, a game examined the rising tension in American culture and some oft-too repeated concepts of cinematic stories, in Bad Day L.A.
Set during practically every apocalyptic scenario that has been depicted in blockbuster films. We follow voluntarily homeless Anthony as he attempts to make his way towards safety, away from the unravelling chaos that appears to be following him. Along the way, he meets a variety of people from all walks of life, such as a perpetually infected child, a Paris Hilton emulation, and many more. Anthony now must deal with not only rescuing himself but saving this ragtag group of survivors from the ensuing chaos.
As each level ramps up the catastrophes that befall L.A., the gameplay remains consistent yet varied in its approach. You typically spend your time traversing a level completing simple tasks while dealing with terrorists, zombified populous and whatever gets in Anthony’s way. You collect an assortment of weapons to defend yourself, from assault rifles to crowbars, and as your entourage expands you can switch between them, and their unique abilities can be devastatingly effective. It’s not all mindless killing, as you’re encouraged to help people you see in distress, The way you interact with the perpetually-panicked civilians, informs a threat level, you can help pacify the population via a fire extinguisher and bandages, but by callously killing them off increases it, and focuses more of the government’s efforts on exterminating you.
As you spend the day, traversing across the once iconic now devastated locations in the city, battle irradiated superheroes outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, man an armed ambulance travelling frantically down Wiltshire avenue. Up to dealing with the aftermaths of an experimental Zombie bomb, and an invasion of America by Mexico (not the soviets). The humour is zeitgeisty and helps grounds the game’s satire. While exploring the semi-open levels Sometimes you can pick up humorous and permanent upgrades to your health, encouraging exploration. This game’s style is its ace-in-the-hole, adopting a cell-shaded comic book look that especially shines during the pre-rendered cutscenes, and its cute cartoon style juxtaposes the horror and the silliness, encouraging you to check out what else is in store.
Bad Day L.A. is a light-hearted satirical romp, that is a fun challenge. It excels in combining action and silliness, sending up attitudes and Hollywood clichés all too common at the time. Its colourful look and engaging gameplay allow the concept to fully come to life and execute its remit of political and social satire fully. Despite its name, Bad Day L.A. certainly is not the end of the world as we know it.
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