Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2010-02-06 Xbox 360 Shooter M (Mature) D3 Publisher / Vicious Cycle

Following his 3D debut in Eat Lead (which was fun, but not without its faults), Matt Hazard returns in a new game more suited to his old-school roots.

Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond is a 2D side-scrolling shooter with 3D graphics and layered planes, somewhat similar to Shadow Complex. While it's obvious the budget for the game wasn't as big as the previous title's (something that the characters even make fun of, especially in what concerns the use of "text" instead of voice), there is still plenty of enemies to shoot, blood to spill and fun to be had.

The story revolves around Hazard's arch-enemy General Neutronov attempting to eliminate "current-gen Matt" by traveling back in time in order to kidnap and delete "8-bit Matt". Yes, it's a pretty far-fetched plot, and even the game itself makes fun of it, but it works as an excuse to start shooting as Matt travels through the Marathon server revisiting old games.

Each of the levels in Blood Bath and Beyond is reminiscent of other games: Bioshock 2, Mirror's Edge, Team Fortress 2, Pokemon (have to have'em, every one!) and Super Mario Bros are some of the titles the developers have chosen to represent (quite well, I must say) this time around.

The game has three difficulty settings: Wussy (easy), Damn This is Hard (medium) and F*** this Shit (hard), but even on Wussy the stages can be pretty challenging, not because of the enemy difficulty, but because Matt won't be able to take as many hits. Now you know why the hardest difficulty is called what it is - you will probably say it many, many times while throwing the controller across the room as you realize you have no more lives left and here comes another "continue".

With that said, expect to die quite a bit. Quite a lot. As in, massive amounts of dying, either because there are too many enemies on the screen, or because you can't time that particular jump properly, because there is an enemy off-screen still shooting at you (you can't backtrack either), or because the controls just decide to act up.

The controls take a while getting used to, but they're not overly complicated. Move with the left analog, jump with A, shoot by pressing X, shoot into the background by holding the left trigger, right trigger uses grenades, and Y activates Hazard Time. Aiming accurately isn't easy, and while you can press the right bumper to increase Matt's accuracy, it's still pretty difficult to get the aiming right. Maybe the right analog should have been used to aim.

Regardless of the technical issues and the overall difficulty, Blood Bath and Beyond is still fun in its Metal Slug-ish style. Humor is a constant (Human pachinko bonus level! No, really!), be it in the weird enemies (vomiting giant penguins, anyone?), the lame yet funny jokes (What do you get when you cross a hippo, an elephant and a rhino? Hel-ephi-no!) and the constant mocking of the fact that this is a game. The split-screen co-op adds to the fun, since it's easier to go through the hordes of enemies with a friend, and you can choose to steal your partner's lives if you run out. Too bad there is no online play.

If you're looking for a bit of old-school side-scrolling fun, look no further. Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond isn't a groundbreaking title, but it will keep you entertained.

Special thanks to Sarissa Thrower and D3 Publisher for providing a copy of this title.