Giant Bomb Review

37 Comments

Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard Review

2
  • PS3
  • X360

While the game is conceptually interesting, Matt Hazard's "return" comes up short in just about every way imaginable.

Oh yeah, there are also zombies.
Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard is a dull, repetitive third-person shooter that attempts to get by on its sense of humor. The whole game, from the title (this is the first game featuring Matt Hazard), to its achievements, to some of its bosses, plays off of gaming's history and cracks jokes that people with a knowledge of games will get. The catch is that most of it isn't very funny. Matt Hazard himself is a sort of Duke Nukem-like gruff action hero. But Duke Nukem was already sort of painted as a comedic character, making Matt Hazard... a parody of a parody? While I could sit and dissect the game until we all go crazy, let's just cut to the chase. Matt Hazard's action is bad, but not bad enough to be funny. And the bits that are supposed to be funny aren't funny enough to make the bad gameplay excusable.

The story is madness. It seems that Matt Hazard (voiced by Will Arnett), gaming action hero, has been in games for the past 20 years. And it's time for him to make a comeback in a modern shooter. But there's a catch! The CEO of Marathon Software (voiced by Neil Patrick Harris) wants Hazard dead, so this whole game one big ambush designed to kill Matt Hazard forever! But... it's a video game! So... uh... what? I was totally unable to handle the logic leaps required to make the story work. At one point, the game pulls out to the "real world" to show you the evil CEO plotting Hazard's demise. But it's rendered in the same graphics engine used for the game. Maybe if the developer had gone all the way and shot a little video of actual humans for these bits, it would have gone down a bit more smoothly.

The story manifests itself in a way that makes the game seem like some sort of hyper installment of The Matrix. The game is constantly glitching as programmers insert more enemies and objects into the scene to take you down. And all of those enemies come from Matt's previous works, which means you'll fight a range of generic enemies, like cowboys, evil Russians, space marines, and cybernetic-looking troopers armed with water guns (from Matt's ill-advised kid-friendly water shooter). You'll even fight flat, 2D Nazis in an homage to Wolfenstein 3D, and they'll turn sideways to avoid incoming fire. It's kind of funny to see cowboys and Russians working together (for a change), especially when they're materializing in some kind of dance club filled with holographic dancing girls, but the enemy variety ends up being pretty weak. You see most of what the game has to offer in the first few levels, and from there it just becomes simple repetition with an occasional boss fight.

The fake game boxes used to promote Matt Hazard are kind of funnier than the game itself.
The game is a cover-based third-person shooter, with cover that will "de-rez" if it takes too many hits. Headshots are the order of the day, making the pistols key pieces of weaponry if you're a steady shot. You'll also find some fully-automatic weapons, a shotgun, a grenade launcher, a sniper rifle, some plasma weaponry, and some water guns, which are useful because they take out the water-gun enemies much faster than regular weapons. The actual shooting feels flat and the weapons really lack punch. You also have a melee attack. Other than shooting, hitting, and taking cover, there really isn't anything else, mechanically, to see. Hazard moves sort of slowly, so a dive or a run command might have been nice.

Along the way you'll receive assistance from a holographic lady (who exists in the "real world" in some form) known as QA. I kept hoping that the game would have you stop receiving assistance about a third of way through and claim that the entire QA department had been laid off. But the game's sense of humor doesn't really get too inside, beyond a quick crack about producers not actually playing games. Instead, it's usually really simple stuff, like an encounter with a guy named Master Chef, or a Mario gag. Most of the references are solid, but they aren't especially funny, either. Unless you think seeing a space marine in an armored chef's outfit is a scream. For me, the funniest part of the entire game is a boss fight against a parody of a Final Fantasy protagonist. From the pre-fight dialogue to the way his actions are selected off of a menu during the fight, it's a good bit of business that follows through on the concept's potential. There's also a good bit about an extra-long elevator ride.

So it's not entirely devoid of quality humor, but it's hard to call Matt Hazard a funny game. Will Arnett just sort of drones on in the lead role, which seems like a bit of a waste. That could have been anyone. The different AI enemies call out a lot, too, though I couldn't tell if having them call out that they were out of ammo was supposed to be deliberately bad or just, well, bad. Either way, a lot of the non-story dialogue gets repeated frequently.

It's a little weird to think of it this way, since the intents are so vastly different, but as far as recently released third-person shooters go, I think 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand is a far funnier game than Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard. But that's just it. Humor is entirely subjective, and maybe some of the stuff I found to be a little easy and dull will get you going. However, I'm a lot more certain about the quality of Matt Hazard's gameplay, which almost feels like it's going out of its way to be mediocre at best. Hey, maybe that's part of the joke!
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
37 Comments
Posted by Pie

Endurance run please. Good review though albeit unexpected.

Posted by TheGremp

Nice review Jeff, kinda disappointing...  It had a nice concept.

Posted by Drebin_893

Really great review, Jeff.

Posted by LifeByDegrees

Most of the other outlets have been more positive/amused and a bit more forgiving.
This is probably something that needs a Metacritic and a rental to resolve.

Posted by LiveOrDie1212

i still don't know who the fuck is Matt Hazord......

Posted by MattBodega

I actually really like Will Arnett and Neil Patrick Harris, so this game HAD to be pretty bad.
The universe doesn't let people I like appear in good video games.

Posted by ahoodedfigure

It seems they needed to focus more on what worked first and really intensify the comedy.  I know that sounds backwards, given that the gameplay was what really brought it down, but I've seen countless reviews that look past gameplay to say "OK, this sucks, but it's hilarious".  With more confidence in their material this might have INFORMED the design of the gameplay, so if it was going to suck, it might do it with style and variety, to the point where you'd actually laugh at the problems you had, instead of feeling like the comedy was tacked on to a bad shooter.

They also didn't need to muddy up the story so much.  It sounds like something out of cross-cultural, bad-translation hell.

Edited by BiggerBomb

I saw the review on the front page and the bubble said "0," as in 0 comments. From the time it took me to click on that link, which was all about half a second, four people had replied.

Dayum.

Posted by iAmJohn

Sounds like they put the cart before the horse and were more preoccupied with making a "funny" game than a good shooter.  A shame, because it's a pretty clever premise.

Posted by snide

I liked the last Matt Hazard game much better.


What this game needs is some Leisure Suit Larry references.
Posted by Hairydutchman

Too bad. I really liked the premise of the game.

Posted by Kush

...but it's got Doogie Howser...DOOGIE!!!

Posted by sneakysnake128

mmm Lead for breakfast.

Posted by LordAndrew
"At one point, the game pulls out to the "real world" to show you the evil CEO plotting Hazard's demise. But it's rendered in the same graphics engine used for the game. Maybe if the developer had gone all the way and shot a little video of actual humans for these bits, it would have gone down a bit more smoothly."
Hm. You know what? Jeff should have made this game. I think it would have turned out a lot better.
Posted by Skillface
Endurance run please. Good review though albeit unexpected.

Is this really the place to be complaining about that?

Anyways, great review Jeff, I expected this from your complaints on the podcast about the game.
Posted by MeatSim

What a shame I liked the concept of this game.

Posted by RenegadeSaint

I look forward to the day this drops to a $10 price point.  I shall enjoy it.

Posted by StarwindX9

I enjoyed the game... not worth 60 bucks, but it is worth the rental

Posted by Vod_Crack

"Hazard moves sort of slowly, so a dive or a run command might have been nice."

You can run using LB, Jeff.

Posted by Doonee63

Noice review you got there... I'll buy it at a high price.

Posted by F1

Awww man... what a disappointment. Let's not make that TWO this week (I'm looking at you RE5).

Posted by MrMiyagi

I totally called the 2 stars.
I'll still give this a rent.

Posted by pornstorestiffi

I wouldn't play this game even if i got it for free. It looks and sounds like its liquid poop on a stick.

Posted by Crono

the game may suck but this picture is hilarious

Matt Hazard doesn't wait for the draw.
Posted by TheLawnWrangler

:( such a disappointment 

I'm still going to rent for some reason :P
Posted by guerrajr

It's very disapointing to here it, but all reviews are basically saying the same thing. To bad, I had hope for this game. O well, there's always RE5.

Posted by Downsize
Duke Nukem > Matt Hazard
Posted by EndlessMike

This game must have really pissed you off. That was a pretty angry review.

Posted by algebratwo

I gave this a rent. Got 750 points after finishing it on the easiest difficulty. I thought it was fun, just ultra repetitive, and I thought the gags and bosses were decent enough to keep me playing through the levels.

Posted by Undeadpool

In the words of a dying hero unit from Master of Orion 2: NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!
Seriously, I was hoping this game wouldn't suck.

Posted by Media_Master

Where's Duke?

Posted by feelingsinister

Jeff, your review shows up as 100% on Metacritic...strange.

http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/xbox360/eatleadthereturnofmatthazard

Posted by Lind_L_Taylor

Why is it that parodies don't take the time to at least
make the game have some quality. They should have
licensed a better engine, such as Gears of War or
something & then made a spoof.  The point is: use a
game engine that works & then make it a parody. That
way nobody can complain about the mechanics, even
if some may consider it aged, because then you can
really delve deep into the comedy element & not just
annoy people.

You have to ask: did they produce a crappy game as
a joke on purpose because they want to lose money??
It's probably better to go back & play that awful game
from last year about The Third Reich invading America...
the developers said they wanted to make the game
just to test the "publishing elements"..that does't
make a game at all.

They should have put NPH in a dress. It would have
been more realistic.

Posted by Shadow

Why doesn't anyone ever make a video showing what this game is?  It just feels weird that I know what most of the achievements are, I know the plot, the game is out, and I have yet to see any gameplay.

Posted by Lassegp

Hmm kind of disapointed. Thought this would've been good.

Posted by whiptcracker

You can run with the LB.

But I just wan
t to get this straight...you walked through the whole game?  Including the sniper/helicopter section?

Posted by CharlesAlanRatliff

Wait, you CAN run in this game? I am on the 7th level and decided to check out the game on Giant Bomb to see when it was released and saw the review, and then the comments.  I played through the tutorial and really don't remember them telling you that. Both me and Jeff missed it, so I am going to blame it on the game on this one.