|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|
by Adam Brown
December 15, 2008 - Throughout the history of video games, there have been a plethora of characters constantly fighting to remain popular and relevant. Some have certainly been more successful at holding onto the limelight than others, but eventually it seems as though time catches up to almost all of them.
Famous and obscure characters alike have come and gone, making way for new generations of names and faces to captivate an ever-changing market of players. But what happens to these characters that eventually succumb to the cruel march of time? Thankfully, this is a question that should finally get answered in the upcoming game Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard.
Starting off with a brilliant VH1 styled mock documentary entitled Inside the Game, Eat Lead introduces you to its main character and his completely fabricated history. Back in the early 8-bit days, Matt Hazard enjoyed enormous popularity due to classic titles such as The Adventures of Matt in Hazard Land. As the industry continued to grow, Matt continued to find success with the likes of Matt Hazard 3D, You Only Live 1317 Times, and Murder Force. Then the bottom fell out, with Matts publisher Marathon Megasoft putting him into games like Haz-Matt Carts that attempted to garner a more mainstream appeal. As a seemingly washed-up video game character, there was little left for Matt to do other than mope around, gain weight, and reminisce about the glory days. That is until Marathon Megasoft was purchased by Wallace Wellesley.
Shortly after this mysterious character takes over operations, Matt finds himself slated for his current generation debut and his first outing in many years. While he initially believes that things are finally starting to look up for him, he quickly realizes the real truth of the situation. Instead of his new game being a chance to be reestablished among the elite characters in the industry, it is just an elaborate trap with no extra lives or continues. By conversing with QA, Matts hacker helper in the game world, he finds out that Wallace only put him in this title for an opportunity to permanently delete his code once and for all.
Eat Lead is a third-person shooter with a heavy dose of video game satire thrown in for good measure. Gaming stereotypes old and new from Matts previous fictitious exploits are constantly being thrown into his new virtual adventure thanks to the tinkering of an unseen force. One minute hell be fighting a group of mobsters, and the next, zombies requiring precise headshots to dispatch with will materialize and attack. Even his environment can suddenly change before his eyes, going from a meat freezer to the Wild West in an instant. This kind of variety and spontaneity should definitely help to keep gamers entertained and on their toes at the same time.
Luckily, with all Matts previous experience, he at least has a fighting chance for survival. Like most current games in the genre, Eat Lead will utilize a cover system that allows the player to seek refuge while exterminating the opposition. However, there are a couple of twists that change up this tried-and-true formula. Firstly, cover doesnt last forever. Players will need to take cover, kill enemies, and then move to ensure their safety. Secondly, to help with this the game will offer a unique point-and-cover mechanic. This will allow players to aim at an object, press a button, and have Matt instantly take cover behind the selected object.
Further aiding Matt in his travels is his proficiency at increasing his abilities. Since the game is taking place in a virtual world, whenever an enemy meets their end, they will de-rez into digital information instead of dying. He can then take this newly gained data and use it to upgrade his skills, such as gaining the capability to dual wield weapons. Eat Lead will also offer a decent assortment of weaponry ranging from assault rifles to six-shooters, guaranteeing Matt will always have the best gun for any given job.
Since humor will play a very large role in the overall experience of Eat Lead, whether the game is funny or not could make or break this title in the end. Thankfully, this should definitely not be a cause for much concern. As players blast through enemies as the Duke Nukem like character Matt Hazard, they will be treated to snappy one-liners voiced by none other than Will Arnett (Arrested Development). Neil Patrick Harris (Harold and Kumar) is on board as well, lending his voice talent to Wallace, Hazards main adversary in the game. Eat Lead also enjoys a script written by David Ellis (Dead Head Fred), almost assuring that no gamer will make it to the end of the title without a good amount of chuckles.
With its mix of video game satire, always changing action, and a unique new cover mechanic, Eat Lead is a title that you may want to keep your eyes on. If the comedy is all there and the action is solid, Matt Hazard could very well manage to step out of his fictitious back-story and become an actual recurring video game character. Well have to wait until late March to find out if a gaming has-been, even a fake one, can once again, or for the first time, find gamers favor.
CCC Staff Contributor