|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.
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.
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.
CCC Editor / News Director