Whilst I was waiting for Serious Sam 3, Jak4, MDK3 and Duke Nukem Forever, up returns a gaming legend relic again from no where; 'The Man', Matt Hazard. Eat Lead is the new addition to the franchise and this time is based on your typical Third Person Shooter with duck and cover mechanics and rechargeable health ala Gears of War and Uncharted with a two weapon system with its own unique improvements to the usual fair, such as adding X to rotate around cover such as columns or boxes.
Another additional tweak to most cover systems is the ability to press Triangle when your cursor hovers over a valid piece of cover, also, cover can be destroyed and leaves 'glitches' which you have to walk around.
The game starts first of all in your typical Triad inspired shootout inside of a restaurant, only to kick the ass of a boss inspired by 70's flicks with an afro using timed Quick Time Events. Once kicking ass, (as Matt does best, he has great melee moves, even in the normal TPS gameplay by pressing Square) a new boss appears and tries to shoot you, except the bullet stops. All of a sudden, a female hologram appears called QA and from this point QA gives out objectives and advice from outside of the game.
It turns out that the company Marathon-Megasoft that used to make the old games has been bought up (Nice throwback meta-joke to the old classic Matt Hazard games there.) and the company CEO wants Matt dead because when he was a kid, he couldn't complete Matt's games (Not the only one, mate). So he decides to try to kill Matt and replace him with what he thinks is the 'perfect action hero'. Basically, Matt Hazard plays like a game of the Arnie flick 'Last Action Hero', and has some of the same meta-jokes, but using the Matt Hazard franchise as its background and essentially spoofing the last 20-odd years of gaming and all the previous console generations. It’s all very clever too, because all Matt's old games actually fit in with the context of the game! The cowboys, space marines and even the 2D soldiers from the classic ‘Matt Hazard’ 3D come into it, if you think that’s bad, the SOAKEM unit are back too! And this time their weapons are lethal instead of just water based!
One of the most difficult parts of the Eat Lead gameplay to get used to is that a quarter through the game, shooting enemies dead without headshots causes them to turn into zombies, these zombies can ONLY be killed by a few direct shots in the head or a direct hit with explosive. So you end up playing a game that messes with your head, has pretend glitches warning you of upcoming dangers, locks you in areas with cowboys, SOAKEMS, space Marines and pixelated 2-D soldiers that can actually turn sideways so you can’t see them. Some later enemies even have the same abilities as you, the player!
The plot of Eat Lead is worthy of the play, it’s a very simple concept taken to tremendous levels. Much like the Daffy Duck cartoon ’Duck Amuck’ Matt is very annoyed by the game he’s starring in being manipulated to kill him by the game developers CEO. Eat Lead is a tale of manipulation, betrayal and ass kicking of Non-Fictional antagonists.
The game is not for the easily infuriated, Eat Lead is like the ‘Serious Sam of third person duck and cover with rechargeable health mechanics’.
Eat Lead WANTS YOU DEAD as much as the plot wants Matt dead and this is communicated very well by the numerous varied spawning enemies. It’s not a game for everyone. Luckily, Eat Lead is quite forgiving with checkpoints and has a run button which Matt never runs out of breath with add that with the 'run to cover' command and everythings pretty balanced. Except IN THE DARK with infa-red after you.
Anyway, Eat Lead is a game that stands out, not for its graphics which look somewhat of the Dead Rising quality, nor even its generic core duck and cover gameplay. It’s all wrapped up quite nicely by a large amount of gaming culture based humour and some fantastic nostalgia like the typical player power-up or exploding barrel and littered crates (You even visit a game prop factory! LOL!). Most notable is walking through corridors textured with Wolfenstien 3D sprite artwork.
Of course, if you were waiting for the glorious return of Matt Hazard, you would’ve bought it already, so maybe the new reboot of the Matt Hazard franchise will return in the near future and I for one will be replaying one of his old adventures in Hi-Def on XBLA and PSN again, published by D3 later this very year!
...It’s Hazard Time.
* Seriously, I liked this game, just playing along with the concept, I hope there’s another retail Matt Hazard title on the way from Vicious Cycle and D3. The next one could do with more polishing, but Matt Hazard could be a pretty good quirky franchise put forward and would be suitable for many genres to spoof and could have sequel after sequel. A good laugh, damn the haters. If you're not sure about a full purchase, its worth a rent or wait for the price to go down, but remember, more sales in retail = sequels.
And yes, apparently there is a real XBLA/PSN game coming out this summer apparently, I personally can't wait. For now, I'll play this;