Just watch Dr. Horrible again instead
Cross-posted with my site gammatesting.com.
I say this a lot: “Comedy is hard.” I don’t do comedy in my own writing. I throw in some funny here and there, sure, but usually to relieve the tension or because some amusing moment grows out of the larger narrative. But I can’t imagine writing a full on piece of comedy. It’s just too easy to screw up, because few things grate more than bad jokes. Weirdly enough then, the worst part of Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard (Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3)is not the comedy — not that the humor shines or even really succeeds very often– but it’s more consistently enjoyable than the actual game play, which is consistently dull, mixed with healthy doses of crappiness.
A little background: No, you’re not forgetting anything - there haven’t been any other Matt Hazard games. The conceit of this game is that Matt Hazard used to be a popular action game character from way back in the 8-bit days. The opening cinematic tells his story, voiced by Arrested Development star Will Arnett as Matt Hazard. He does his standard gravely tough guy voice, and it mostly works. The set-up made me chuckle. The load screens gave me a smile. Then it came time to play this ugly, third-person, cover based shooter and I was a lot less happy. It’s not horrible, but it’s not fun either. There’s some interesting variety as the game mixes and matches genres from Hazard’s prolific game past. So you might end up fighting cowboys alongside zombies alongside space marines. My favorite baddies are from a kids water pistol game Hazard was in called Soak-em. But there aren’t that many of them and the weapons they drop aren’t fun.
Hazard earns some power up abilities as the game proceeds - he can either make his shots freeze enemies or set them on fire. Except the fire’s blue (I assume because it’s suppose to be pixels disintegrating) and is totally unsatisfying.
There are a lot of jokes in the game - pretty much they just throw everything they’ve got against the wall and hope some of it amuses. Arnett does a solid job as Hazard. Neil Patrick Harris has a much smaller role as the big enemy, but there’s nothing he can do to make that crappy character work. It’s not a good sign that my favorite jokes almost all happened during the load screens. My favorite was where it said “Tip” and then proceeded to just give dictionary definitions of the word “tip” instead of anything to do with the game. I also like that you get 60 Xbox Live achievement points for just watching the credits. So there’s the game’s biggest selling point: easy achievement points and some smiles interspersed with a haphazard arrangement of laughs. Which is to say, not really selling points at all.