Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2009-07-28 Xbox 360 Shooter T (Teen) D3 Publisher / Vicious Cycle

I have to say, this whole fictional videogame character campaign surrounding Matt Hazard's return really confused me. I was wondering why exactly have I never heard of it before... you know, 25 years running and all... I feel like a dork. But I admit, D3 did a great job having me care for the hero.

So - fictitiously, of course - Matt Hazard has been a videogame hero for a long time. He's been around and killing bad guys since the 8-bit area, but his career declined after some bad ideas for new games (you can read all about those here). And the best thing is, Matt himself will tell you all about that at the beginning of Eat Lead. Now, six years after his last game, Matt is ready for his comeback.

Basically, the plot has to do with the company changing owners, and the new one being a videogame wiz. He has beaten every single videogame that ever was... except the Matt Hazard ones. So obviously, he's pretty pissed, and his ultimate goal is to kill Matt in a game of his creation, which results in changing the rules all the time.

Eat Lead is - for the most part anyway - a standard third-person shooter. Run, shoot, take cover behind things (which works much like in Gears of War) and try not to get shot. But the "game" takes pleasure in throwing everything at you, cheating, spawning more enemies when you think you're done with all of them, and usually, right behind you. And the objects you use to take cover will disappear after taking a certain amount of damage. The weapon selections are constantly changing as well, another result of the programmers fiddling with the game while Matt is in it. The arsenal includes sniper rifles, shotguns, water pistols, Colt revolvers and plasma weapons, but there are a few special moves such as freeze bullets and a temporary shield, as well as a bit of hand-to-hand combat.

The challenge is there, for sure, but to counteract the frustrations of dying over and over (and over... and over...) there are tons of hilarious moments, comments and cut-scenes that make progression completely worthwhile.

From Matt's self-awareness of being a videogame character, through the hilarious comments during the tutorial, down to the spoof boss fights, there are plenty of priceless scenes to be found. You will come across Master Chef in his space marine armor and chef hat, save Captain Carpenter from a patch of mushrooms, who promptly raises a fist, bounces to reach a mystery block and disappears down a green pipe, battle some 2D Nazi soldiers, and have an interesting text chat with a very stereotypical JRPG character who happens to have a gunblade. The game throws so much at you and makes fun of so many different things, that in a way, I am a little surprised I didn't see pirates, ninjas and aliens in there somewhere. I particularly enjoyed the MMO parody, though, when all the staff logs in and joins the game at some point… the parade of stupid nicknames just goes on and on. And if you play any MMOs, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

The dialogs are great and the voice acting counts with the talents of Will Arnett (Arrested Development, Blades of Glory) as Matt, and Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Houser, Harold and Kumar) as Wallace "Wally" Wellesley, your resident bad guy. And to match the professional voice talents, the soundtrack is equality great - or at least, I really enjoyed it. The music stands out, it's not just the kind of background music that is "just there". I actually had the head shake going on occasion!

The bottom line is that while the gameplay is far from perfect, and even the overall look of the game leaves something to be desired, Eat Lead is one of those games you keep on playing just to see what else comes next. Depending on what kind of experience you want to have with it, Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard could be either a rental or a buy. But personally, I'm glad I own it.