Stick With Gears of War
Parodies are not known as anything new in video games. Some games even focus almost entirely on pop-culture references (including the highly acclaimed Conker's Bad Fur Day) and blatant inspirations from the world of film and music (like the now infamous bullet time gameplay feature in Max Payne). But ultimately you can only depend on parodying and mocking others so long before it grows repetitive and stale regardless as would be the case with Vicious Cycle's Eat Lead on PS3 and Xbox 360.
The plot of Eat Lead tells of a universe where video game stars exist as virtuously in fame and fortune as, say, movie star or other famous public figures in the real world. As such, Matt Hazard is a incredibly successful video game star who's own career began with a fictitious 8 bit contra clone to the smash hit Matt Hazard 3D (not at all similar to a certain Duke Nukem 3D).
Like all stars, Matt's fame eventually reached his own ego and after a few fatal market audience decisions his own career collapsed before him. Out of the job and now bust, not much was left for Matt, although lucky for his old company, Marathon, decided to re-hire him for one more game as his big comeback. Yet unknown to him, Marathon have other plans for Hazard, removing him at all costs.
And by all costs, Marathon mean at all costs. Eat Lead performs as a typical third person action shooter, complete with Gears of War esque duck n' cover firing mechanics. Though the actual enemies and stages of Eat Lead are truly what makes it stand out from the other shooters out on the market.
Robot-vixens, cowboys, Russian soldiers are just a few enemies you encounter in Eat Lead as Matt Hazard's enemies from his previous adventures unite to fight against him. Of course to supplement the wide variety of enemies, Eat Lead also has a wide variety of weapons at your disposal.
There's the usual shotguns, sub-machine guns and regular assortments of pistols as you break through the waves of ancient Marathon developed bad guys. Though for eccentricities sake, super-soakers and water guns add to the list of wild and whacky features. Eat Lead's total awareness of being a video game infact is where most of it's appeal and joy derives from.
It entirely mocks everything that makes a computer game. Matt will regularly joke about commodities like load times, mission objectives and boss fights which almost turns Eat Lead from a generic shooter to a spontaneous action title unlike no other. Almost.
Eat Lead gradually relies too heavily on it's video game spoofs and annoyances to really pay attention to the game itself. It is so apparent that the jokes feel as though a reward for staying loyal to the otherwise repetitive gameplay of Eat Lead's gunfighting. You simply have wave after waves of enemies thrown at you for most of the course of Eat Lead and while the title provides few minigames in the form of (the compulsory) quick time events sequence and sniping mission early on during play.
It ironically makes Eat Lead's attempts to mock other releases somewhat backfire. Vicious Cycle fails in it's own incapabilites to avoid the usual annoyances in video games, but in their defense, it probably wasn't what they aimed for regardless.
What Vicious Cycle seems to of aimed for instead is a short but sweet appreciation to world of computer entertainment, though not directly. It instead reminds us why we play games while we enjoy an arguably average, but still fun, third person shooter experience. Visually Eat Lead is solid yet easily doesn't push any boundaries. Compliments go to Vicious for developing their game using an in-house engine however rather than using Unreal 3 like most developers today.
That said it is far easier to tell which console the Vicious Engine has been developed for if you're unfortunate enough to play Eat Lead on PS3. It suffers from some bloody awful frame-rate slowdown, so if given the option, ignore the PS3 edition of Eat Lead and choose the Xbox 360 version instead.
Eat Lead markets itself on the fact it's voice acting is provided partly by Will Artnett and Neil Patrick Harris but it is largely forgettable while not being particularly bad. Eat Lead does have particularly bad music though, it is very cheesy and loops a lot like a Nintendo 64 title, not very impressive at all.
Eat Lead's largest failing however doesn't come from it's mediocre action elements, average sound design or frame-rate issues on the Playstation 3 version, but rather it's lack of online play. Had Eat Lead been a far longer game than it is, the lack of multiplayer features would have been forgivable, yet it easily clocks under ten hours total and still there is an unsatisfying lack of friends being involved in the experience. Vicious Cycle should of realised that most games sell on their multiplayer also and if a game has a decent multiplayer then it has a decent following, it's the bitter truth at the end of the day.
But forgetting the lack of multiplayer or any other gripe Eat Lead has otherwise, there is still a moderately enjoyable but brief experience to be discovered from playing the release on 360 atleast. There are plenty of laugh to be had from the many references and parodies for the large part of Eat Lead's single-player only layout even if it is hit and miss in parts. Give this one a try, it isn't very expensive selling for under £10 at most stores today.