Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard
System: Xbox 360
Release Date: February 26, 2009
Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard is a third-person shooter in which video game cliches and parodies run rampant. The story follows Matt Hazard, a fictional washed-up video game character who is attempting to make a comeback into the gaming scene. Hazard has a lot of similarities to Duke Nukem, including snarky one-liners and a “storied” history beginning with 2D side-scrolling roots. I was initially intrigued because of the game’s mocking of other titles. It certainly didn’t hurt to have Will Arnett and Neil Patrick-Harris on board as voice actors either. However, Eat Lead is an example of a great concept not being utilized to its fullest.
The game uses a duck-and-cover system similar to Gears of War. Essentially, the game has a one-track mind: enter a room, shoot all of the enemies, wait for them to respawn, shoot the new bad guys, move onto another room and repeat. There is little in the way of variety, and there is virtually no exploration allowed. This rinse-and-repeat system gets incredibly repetitive after just a couple of levels and it becomes a chore to keep playing. There are also issues with dumb enemy AI, poor aiming and collision detection, and awkward running controls.
The only thing Eat Lead has going for it is its humor, and as a long-running parody of video games, it succeeds. Halo, Mario, Wolfenstein 3D and role-playing games are just a handful of subjects that Eat Lead spoofs. This tends to bring a flavor of uniqueness in that sometimes Hazard will be taking on an odd variety of enemies at the same time — it is not unusual to battle evil butchers, enemy soldiers and zombies in the same room. While the humor is great, it is unfortunate that the gameplay is so dull and uninspired. The potential for a memorable under-the-radar video game is there, but Eat Lead never comes close to realizing this.