Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard Review
Xbox 360 | PS3
Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard box art
System: X360, PS3 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Vicious Cycle 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: D3 Publisher 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Feb. 26, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

On that note, this game touts some of the most idiotic A.I. I've ever played against - they'll either rush straight at you or run across the room, fully extended, before finding cover. In fact, my first double headshot kill (which unlocks a Trophy / Achievement) was due to enemies running sideways that got caught on a box. This is a foible that's straight out of 1997's GoldenEye. At first, I laughed because I thought it was done on purpose, but then I quickly realized that it was unintentional. Due to the game's satirical nature, this frequently happens; players think the developers were clever in the way they employed old gaming quirks, but they'll soon realize it's just because the game's not very good.

Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard screenshot

That's not to say Vicious Cycle didn't put in some of these faux pas on purpose. For example, many hallways, backs of stairways, and even an entire section of a level are too dark to see where you're going, let alone play effectively. Undoubtedly, this pays homage to many previous generation shooters that didn't have access to the array of lighting effects now available. While this was mostly unobtrusive, I eventually had to crank up the gamma setting just to get passed one section in particular. Other examples include enemies spawning out of nowhere, nondescript character design, prescribed boss battles, poorly implemented quick-time events, hackneyed expressions and catchphrases, uninteresting lackeys, a simple freeze / fire ammo augmentation, etc. While the inclusion of these mechanics succeeds in poking fun at action-shooters, gamers end up getting a title that actively and consistently seeks to employ the most tired and clichéd features of the genre. When all is said and done, you're left with a pretty bad game.

Production values are also quite low for this title. The level design is linear and absolutely devoid of character - probably another misguided attempt at satire. There are also extensive aliasing issues - this game's about as jagged as the Tetons. Additionally, character design and animations are as lackluster as can be. The musical themes, on the other hand, do a great job of preserving the kitsch feel without dumbing down the game. Surprisingly, the same can't be said of the voice work. I love Will Arnett (Arrested Development) and Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), but the lines they're forced to read are wholly shambolic. The dialogue and catchphrases used throughout title are meant to be humorously passé, but they just come off as being tired and stale - a common theme that permeates this shooter.

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I love what Vicious Cycle and D3Publisher tried to accomplish with Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard. Unfortunately, the satire and humor isn't enough to save the title from its contrived gameplay. If you are a true gaming buff who's interested in seeing the action-shooter genre get lampooned, Eat Lead is likely worth a rental. That being said, the painful mechanics will try their best to thwart your advance.

By Jonathan Marx
CCC Editor / News Director

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
2.0
Graphics
Extensive aliasing issues, linear level design, poor animations, and nondescript character design foil the visual presentation.
2.4
Control
This third-person shooter is familiar, but the cover system is quirky and there are extensive hit detection problems.
3.2
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The musical themes support the cheesy theme nicely, but the tired dialogue and catchphrases aren't clever enough to produce many laughs.
2.3
Play Value
With only a single-player offering and being full of poorly executed mechanics, Eat Lead is seriously lacking play value.
2.4
Overall Rating - Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Third-person shooter with an extensive cover mechanic.
  • Blast your way through eclectic levels that ooze with satire and set the stage for the Matt Hazard mythos.
  • Featuring voice work from TV's Will Arnett and Neil Patrick Harris.


  • Screenshots / Images
    Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard screenshot - click to enlarge Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard screenshot - click to enlarge Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard screenshot - click to enlarge Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard screenshot - click to enlarge Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard screenshot - click to enlarge Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard screenshot - click to enlarge Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard screenshot - click to enlarge Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard screenshot - click to enlarge Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard screenshot - click to enlarge Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard screenshot - click to enlarge Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard screenshot - click to enlarge Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard screenshot - click to enlarge

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