Matt Hazard appeared during the 8 bit days as an iconic no-nonsense wise cracking hero…or so they say. Pretty typical considering most games feature either the sassy buxom female lead or the muscle bound male who could crack walnuts with his biceps. Since his arrival in 1989 we’ve had a number of action heroes that like to kick ass and chew bubblegum, but D3 has decided to give the aged hero another chance at stardom, for those of you who missed his antics the first time round – welcome to Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard.
Like its leading character, Eat Lead is a no-nonsense third person action game of the most generic variety. You’ll traverse 8 levels picking up guns and shooting up various enemies which come in a number guises. The story takes place inside the development of a video game, except the game is more real than make believe. This is a perfect excuse for the game to throw the most generic levels at you and a whole host of wild and wacky video game stereotype characters. The game’s premise is firmly hinged on the fact that it parodies other games which makes for a welcome and often humorous distraction to the point where the actual game becomes secondary.
The entire game is filled with in jokes and references to the other Matt Hazard games and so you’ll certainly glean a few laughs here and there. In fact I would say the game’s comedy is probably its best feature, but cannot mask the fact that the rest of the game is somewhat dull and ill-conceived.
The game features a cover system a la Gears of War and with a tap of the face buttons will allow you to move from cover to cover without sustaining too much damage. The enemies seem to use the same cover mechanic, but will often try and run at you to overwhelm you. I wouldn’t say their AI is that intelligent, and like other cover shooters becomes more a test of patience than skill. Although I will add that there are some moments where enemies will suddenly spawn literally on top of you resulting in a cheap and untimely death.
I’ll be honest, I was ready to throw the game in the trash and write it off as a game not worth playing, and to a degree the thought still lingers. The reason for this, early on in the game after a sniping section I discovered that Matt would enter a doorway and fall outside of the level. At first I thought this was to be another of the game’s gags, but after ten minutes of inactivity I figured it was a glitch – a game breaking one at that. This is terrible and had I not looked online for an answer, it could have happened over and over. For anyone interested – once you beat the sniper section, don’t exit the gun emplacement until the cutscene triggers.
Poor…that pretty much sums up the game’s looks. To the point where on occasion you could be mistaken that you’re playing a last generation game. There’s no flair here at all and like the gameplay is as generic as it comes. The only real enjoyment you’ll garner here are the references to other games like the Master Chef character based on Halo’s Master Chief. The levels are bland, there are poor textures and the enemies are about as lovingly crafted as taking a dump in a posh toilet. Part of me felt that perhaps this lack of detail was all part of the game’s humorous outlook on games, yet at the same time I wondered if in fact it was a lack of budget, I’m going to go with the latter.
Eat Lead features an impressive soundtrack which is perhaps the game’s best feature. There are some tunes that play during certain stages that have a familiar feel to them and will undoubtedly bring a smile to the face. The voice acting is as cheesy as it gets, but due to the nature of the game is well suited. Matt’s voice is perfect for the role and his lines of dialogue do offer a glimmer of entertainment. Everything else is, and here’s that word again…generic.
There are 8 levels which can easily be beaten in a rental period even on the game’s medium setting. In fact you’ll probably be able to grab all of the game’s achievements in the same period, if you can endure cheap deaths, some frustrating moments, and the same wacky lines of dialogue which aren’t going to be as funny a second time round. It’s a shame the game does not allow you to skip the cutscenes as this would have helped greatly. With no multiplayer to bore you with, Eat Lead offers a one trick pony that will soon buckle and perhaps will cause your attention to gallop off to far more lush pastures.
Eat lead has its humor going for it, and perhaps is the only reason the game should be played. Beyond this, there’s nothing here that stands out in any way shape or form and is a game that merely adds to the huge library of similar shooters that follow the same tired formula. Simply put, the game offers nothing memorable and is perhaps the biggest wasted opportunity this generation – because there’s so much more the developers could have done with the game. The humor in Eat Lead is welcome and perhaps diverts from the fact that the rest of the game is under par, but I would hazard a guess that the game is going to be a favourite amongst gamers looking for an easy 1000 achievements and those who find solace rummaging through the bargain bins of their local game stores.