Review by Sb27441X

Reviewed: 09/25/06

American McGarbage defiles electronics stores once more with this atrocity

Who is American McGee and why do his projects indicate disregard, if not open contempt, for quality gaming?

McGee, an entity who has existed in the gaming industry in various forms since the inception of Doom II back in the early 1990s, is synonymous with a number of titles, usually depicting an alternative take on some element of popular or historic culture. Initially placed in a formative role in level design for id Software's FPS titles such as Quake and Quake II, McGee quickly vacated the house that Carmack built in favor of a John Romero-like position where he could emphasize style over substance and ensure memorable gameplay could be kept to an absolute minimum. After brief flirtations with a number of excursions in mediocrity such as Postal 2 and Scrapland, he settled into a comfortable role producing third-rate titles in third-world nations in the Mauretania Import/Export Company, which is devoted to reproducing the efforts of programmers and artists in first-world countries at third-world wages.

Politics aside, the latest export of the Mauretania Import/Export Company would have best been seized by the customs authorities before it had a chance to enter American retail outlets and be subject to immediate maceration by myriad amateur and professional reviewers. American McGee Presents: Bad Day LA is the latest product of the downward spiral of McGee, who showed some semblance of promise with American McGee's Alice, amidst other products. The game depicts the struggle of a homeless individual to survive a series of natural disasters, generally via the distribution of a fixed morality system that rewards the player for performing "good deeds" and penalizes him/her for misanthropic acts.

In practice, the game degenerates into an unimpressive, repetitive spree of attacking AI-deprived enemies with weak weapons. The arsenal is completely generic and uninspired, perhaps to match with the mundane foes your protagonist must face. The player is befriended by a series of equally useless companions, who are generally involved in some sort of mission objective. The forced morality system adds little to the gameplay and merely detracts from an intriguing possibility of moral ambiguity: if the player, as he is depicted, is a homeless, misanthropic deviant, why is the option for him to take his revenge upon the society that created him ignored? With law enforcement primarily concerned with the numerous crises that occur throughout the span of the game, it would seem one could loot and shoot without encountering severe opposition. Instead, dull constraints of morality are placed on the player. While the concept of surviving natural disasters is relatively unexplored in video gaming, the game is prevented from realizing any element of its potential by forcing the player to fire on waves upon waves of utterly bland cannon fodder enemies occasionally punctuated by a boss.

Graphically, the game is primitive and bears a resemblance to the cel-shaded titles that were popular several years ago, although the technique itself is not implemented. Character design is reminiscent of the art in Fallout and several other titles, although repetition is omnipresent amongst the various civilians and enemies present in the game. A grainy, low-quality look permeates the visual aesthetic of the game, ruining any merit garnered by the unorthodox graphical style.

Although the title is portrayed as humorous, very few elements of humor appealed to me. The game suffers from a complete lack of subtlety in the delivery of its humor and often seems to be grating rather than amusing. The main character fails to give a convincing impression of being homeless and instead seems to rely on racial slurs and other tired ploys to derive humor through offensive content.

There is simply nothing enjoyable about this game. It is unimpressive as a video game, unimpressive as a social commentary, and unimpressive as a form of comedic relief. The "less-is-more" approach that seems to have been adopted by American McGee in his direction of this title has resulted in a game that may not be unplayable, but is so dull and generic that it is difficult to envision a target audience who would be interested in playing it.

Rating:   1.0 - Terrible

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