The return of Matt Hazard? “Who the f%@k is Matt Hazard” I hear you say. Well, that’s exactly what I was thinking when Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard dropped through my letterbox. Is he a superhero? Is he just a game character that was a hit in the 80’s before I was born? In fact he was none of the above, as this was actually Matt Hazards first appearance in a video game, ever. The game is a parody of the last 25 years in gaming. Think of it as the Scary Movie of the games industry. So with that in mind I didn’t really know what to expect when I booted up the game.
The first thing you notice is the lack of options. There’s no multiplayer via splitscreen or on Xbox LIVE, but instead just an option to play the campaign mode. I thought this was rather poor and to be honest a bit lazy. Never mind though, maybe the campaign mode will keep me on the edge of my seat. Or maybe not…You see, when you are playing the campaign mode, its rather confusing as you don’t really know what’s really happening, as such. You have to get in the mind set that this was all real and not just made up, because if you don’t you will become very confused. So, Matt Hazard is a gaming hero from the 80’s but got too greedy like the majority of famous people and started using his name in a way that would attach it to other games that have nothing to do with what he became famous for, example being Matt Hazard Kart Racing. This proved a fatal move as the idea blew up in his face and he was no more. It’s not all bad for Matt though as he has a contract with the company who are releasing a new game. Unfortunately the new boss of the company is trying to detach himself from Matt and in turn tries to kill him during the game using any means possible. And that’s basically how the game pads out from here on in…
Over the first few levels you get a flavour of what’s to come throughout the rest of the game. The idea in each level is the same: Enter level, shoot everything that moves, pick up their ammo and move onto the next part of the level. Now of course this is touched up a bit by adding different sceneries, enemies and bosses, but all-in-all this method is the way you will play the rest of the game. Now being a parody of gaming I was waiting for something funny to happen, I mean there are a few one liners which make you chuckle, but nothing more. That is until you see what kind of enemies there are in the game. You meet cowboys, zombies, Russian terrorists and my personal favourite the Soak’ Em characters who carry water pistols and another gun which only resembles something we always wanted when we were younger, the Super Soaker Turbo 3000 Machine gun. This is definitely the only game which allows you to shoot Russian terrorists and Zombies at the same time. There is one thing I was really disappointed about though and that was the bosses. To kill a boss at the end of each level all you have to do is push a combination of controller buttons. It’s so easy it really defeats the purpose of having a boss, but I suppose that’s what a parody is all about, isn’t it?
The game plays out in a third person over the shoulder view, a view found similar to Gears of War. There is also a very good cover system which is probably the only thing developers Vicious Cycle Software took seriously in the game. You can easily hide behind most objects, although, if they receive enough damage they will disappear. You can then with the click of a button move to another object to hide behind enabling you enough cover to kill your foes. This system works really well and other games of a similar genre should take note.
You will use the cover system a lot as Hazard can only carry two weapons at any given time, which have limited ammo. Running out of ammo is a given and you will have to revert to using your fists, just like how you kill most of the bosses. Alternatively, instead of just spraying bullets all over the place you can stop, zoom in, and kill your enemies using headshots. You can easily swap your weapons for better ones once you have killed all the enemies as well as collect all the ammo which your enemies will leave behind once they die. As the game progresses, weapon upgrades are also made available with a temporary effect, such as bullets that can freeze enemies. Defeating more enemies allows your uprgrade meter to grow faster and this allows you to re-use the freezing bullets over and over again.
So that’s about it. Unfortunately there is no multiplayer, Xbox LIVE access and an alternative campaign mode to discuss. I would have loved to see some sort of points scoring game as a feature as I think this game would have suited that more rather than the “enter, shoot and leave” style it has adopted. At times the game is funny, but for me it’s not funny enough to warrant a purchase. The game just doesn’t do anything for me and it’s just a bit “meh!” There are plenty other games out there which will satisfy you more and I would only ever recommend Eat Lead as a rental for a weekend if you’re bored, or if you can pick it up for a tenner!