Duke Nukem 3D, Tropic Thunder, Son of Rambow, and now, Matt Hazard. What do these things all have in common? They all try to parody the action industry. Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard is the latest attempt to create laughs by poking fun at “hardcore over-the-top violence”. The question is; is it worth the cost of entry?
The prospect of the game is quite unique. You are Matt Hazard, a legendary video game hero who made classic hits, but eventually got ran into the ground with various terrible games like “Matt Hazard Kart Racing”. Now it’s time for you to make your triumphant comeback in a brand new detective game, but someone is screwing with the system’s mainframe. Your new mission is to find out who it is, and stop them. What keeps it interesting is that most cover can be eliminated, with a cool “delete” effect (it glows with a wireframe when you shoot it), and the locales dynamically change from time to time.
While the premise is interesting, does it ultimately deliver in terms of comedy? Sadly, no. Will Arnett (Gob from Arrested Development) plays the title character, so everyone had high hopes with Matt Hazard. Coming from a huge Will Arnett fan, I felt he was drastically underused, and it also felt like he rushed to deliver some of his lines. Matt Hazard himself also isn’t distinct enough to become “the new Duke Nukem”. He looks very average, and his outfit looks like it came straight out of Mad Max. If Arnett’s likeness was used instead of Matt Hazard’s character model, as was his signature style of humor, Matt would have been a lot more interesting. The jokes range from one liners you’ve heard before, to potty humor. Disappointingly, there are only a few over-the-top sexual or foul jokes. This type of humor isn’t “needed” to make an action game in my opinion, but when Matt Hazard bills itself as “over-the-top hardcore”; you can’t help but to expect some raunch.
As far as the enemies go, bosses can get quite hilarious, with obvious stereotype characters like the “Supa-Fly Black Kung-Fu Master” or the “Austrian Ahnold Action Hero”. I can’t say the same for the normal enemy models; they’re incredibly uninspired. Running through diverse levels is pretty fun, but having to fight generic looking enemies isn’t very inspiring. To add to the normal-looking baddies, weapons don’t get more out of the ordinary than the standard “pistol, shotgun, magnum”, and the like. The hilarious water gun weapon pushes the envelope, but it isn’t enough to diversify your arsenal. Powerups are also pretty boring. There’s the standard “super power”, freeze shot, and fire shot. That’s it.
The level design in Matt Hazard ranges from interesting to “seen it before”, but for the most part the set pieces differ enough to keep you going. Since the game takes place “in a game”, sometimes you’ll suddenly find yourself in a completely different time period, which helps keep your experience fresh. One minute you’ll be tackling western gunslingers, then KGB Soldiers, then Zombies. Even if they look generic, you can’t get more interesting than that!
When it comes to actual gameplay, Matt Hazard delivers. It plays a lot like Uncharted, with a more robust cover system. Matt can easily jump from cover to cover seamlessly, and there’s no problem with running and gunning or aiming in general. While the weapons aren’t anything special, they do get the job done, and there’s a decent amount of balance between them, encouraging you to use all weaponry. Matt Hazard also tries to keep gameplay diverse enough to garner your attention. There’s sniping parts, AI partner shoot outs, and there’s also a bit of QTE button pressing for some boss fights thrown in for good measure.
Sadly, Matt Hazard ultimately succumbs to a lot of its parodies. It’s unfortunate, because it actually plays very well. A few quick fixes in the writing and design could have been tweaked to make this the next Duke Nukem 3D. If you’re looking for a pretty standard action game, you might want to give Eat Lead a try; but don’t expect to laugh very much.
Reviewer’s note: The Xbox 360 version was tested for this review
Enemy models are very uninteresting, as is the title character, but the bosses are funny stereotypes. The graphics are about what you’d expect from an average current-gen game.
For all its shortcomings Matt Hazard plays very well. While the water-gun weapon is funny and “different”, not much else you get stands out beyond the typical action game.
The music can get interesting at times, but other than that, there isn’t much here worth noting. The voice acting ranges from bad to hilarious (the good kind of hilarious).
You get nothing for beating the game other than an additional difficulty mode. Do you like Achievements?
Matt Hazard is not a bad game, it’s just very average. If Will Arnett’s likeness was in the game, and he wasn’t trying to sound so muffled, I would have enjoyed the “campiness” much more.