Eat Lead Review

Posted: June 16, 2010 in Review
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Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard Review

Comedy is a tough genre to do properly, but in gaming it’s almost impossible. Sure, there can be a few amusing one-liners, or comic relief characters, but the last game to really ‘do’ comedy – consistently, and for the whole game – was N64 classic Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Well, move aside Conker, because Matt Hazard is here to show us all how it’s done.

Since Matt Hazard first burst onto the action scene in the 1980’s, his star has slowly been fading. From the classic side-scrolling shooters to the more recent 3D ones, each new Hazard title has progressively gotten sillier, with water gun adventures and child-friendly kart racing games littering a once-gleaming track record.

All that’s about to change. Plucked out of retirement by new rights owner Wally Wellesley, Hazard is given a chance to deliver his former glories once more in a gritty detective noir. But something is not right. Someone is hacking the game itself and changing the rules and now Matt Hazard, the greatest action game hero of all time, is fighting for his very existence…

First thing’s first – this game is hilarious. The humour is sufficiently warped and nerdy, referencing everything from Mario to Halo, House of the Dead to Castle Wolfenstein and parodying all of it with a precise, yet loving touch.

The script is excellent throughout, amusingly pairing up underappreciated, try-too-hard hero Hazard with modern day girl Q. The characters and dialogue are consistently funny, each member of the cast bringing unique and amusing view of gaming’s history from their point of view, with Arnie-alike Sniper Wolf being a standout.

The game’s mechanics are also good, in spite of being nothing new. The token third-person cover system is once again used in the game, although it works much better than in many other games simply because Hazard snaps to low walls like a magnet.

Unfortunately, that’s the peak of the gameplay. While the few excellent bosses on offer break up the flow nicely, the majority of the game is spent sprinting from cover to cover, no matter what the level. Because of this, the game feels incredibly repetitive, with no real changes on how you play the game from the tutorial mission right through to the final boss fight. Even though the opening cutscene teases a huge amount of history for the character, you never get to experience any of it. Why not have a kart race, or a 2D level? In fact, the game really should have turned into a proper old-school 2D shooter towards the end, because that’s the direction the game feels like it’s going.

The enemies are also disappointing as the game plays its biggest joke too often, giving you targets that don’t relate to the level. Ho! Cowboys in a Russian nightclub! Ha! Space marines on a yacht! Hee! The game’s developers! It’s a nice alternative, but you’ll run into the same enemies much too frequently.

The real problem with the game is how incredibly repetitive it all is. You run into an area, duck behind cover, shoot all the enemies until a door opens and go into the next room, where the same thing happens again. Aside from a couple of bosses and a few quick time fist fights, it’s all the same – hugely disappointing.

On the whole, this is a really funny game with great characters and a few really memorable quotes. If only the same care was put into the level design and gameplay, this would be a classic. Like this, Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard is destined to be one of those missed opportunities.



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