Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard

Reviewed by Arep | 2 March 2009
Genre: FPS | Publisher: D3 Publisher | Developer: Vicious Cycle
TOG Score
Members (av.)
The Good
  • A very funny parody of the game industry
  • A very capable shooter
  • Neil Patrick Harris
The Bad
  • Problematic cover system
  • Short

In the same vein as the Bard’s Tale (remake) and Dungeon Runners, Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard pokes fun at a wide spectrum of games that have taken themselves far too seriously. Some minor faults keep this title from being much more than a weekend rental however the humor and solid shooter gameplay makes Eat Lead one of the must-play titles of 2009.

He will face off against mobsters, cowboys, space marines, 2D Nazis and a Japanese RPG bossThe game centers around Matt Hazard, a retired video game icon who’s poor choices forced him into early retirement and sent the company sponsoring him into financial ruin. Matt was involved in everything from side-scrolling shooters to kart racing to a kid-friendly water gun FPS. His company is back under new management and they’ve invited Matt back to supposedly star in his first “next-gen” game. Life soon gets complicated when Matt finds out that the programmers appear to be against him and all of his old foes turn up to end his life-time contract the hard way.

Throughout the game Matt meets up with a number of friends and foes from his past as he plays through the game that is trying to kill him. Among others, he will face off against mobsters, cowboys, space marines, 2D Nazis and a Japanese RPG boss (complete with turn-based attacks and text-based speech). His friends include an MMO Wizard (voiced to sound like a bad William Shatner), Master Chef, and The Carpenter (complete with Warp Pipe). By the end of the game, enemies from all the genres will mix and match in an effort to take you down. You’ll also end up participating in several boss fights which make use of quicktime key presses. The whole game is tongue-in-cheek so expect these fights to be the same.

The humor completely makes this game because the gameplay itself is average shooter fare. There’s a basic cover system, variety of weapons with limited ammo storage, but not much else that makes it shine over other third-person shooters. I had a number of problems with the cover system and sometimes instead of breaking cover I’d rotate around it. That really stinks when the cover gets blown apart and the game thinks you are still trying to use it. A few spots in the game requires you to run from cover to cover to avoid being one-shot killed by a boss. Frequent checkpoints saved a little frustration but I still wanted to toss my controller a few times.

The humor completely makes this gameYou may also find the game is a little repetitive once you meet all of the enemy types. The last few levels throw mismatched enemies at you but by then there’s a strong been-there-done-that feel to it. However, if you can avoid focusing on that the humor will keep you entertained until the finish line. Speaking of, the game is more like a 100-yard dash than a marathon. I completed it in a couple of sittings and there’s no real incentive to play again unless you want to up the difficulty.

Overall, I enjoyed my time, albeit short, with Eat Lead a lot. I think it’s a testament to a good parody when you’ve got a number of folks on the forums looking for the “original” Matt Hazard games. Oh, and Will Arnett (Arrested Development) and Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog) voices two of the characters, so bonus points. Although I had a few issues with the controls and the length of the game itself, I would still recommend this to anyone looking for a good single-player shooter. I can’t suggest that you buy it due to its length but you certainly shouldn’t pass it up as a rental or a used title.

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Member reviews

- alicesmile |
| 6 October 2010

Had a look, and while some of the mini-games I tried were fun (the tower defense one is particularly entertaining, but the stunt gungan one left me unimpressed, especially with it's odd control scheme) and currently mostly bug-free for me (no video card issues with my system, although the game did freeze once after completing one mini-game), the need to subscribe to gain access to levels past the tutorial and the following 2-3 levels is off-putting. Lack of gamepad support is surprising (everything's mouse+kb) - the space combat and speeder bike racing games in particular would have been perfect with it.

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