Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard feels like a clunky version of Gears of War, with mindless shooting against constantly re-spawning enemies that have fewer brains than a piece of broccoli. So why then did I find myself glued to it until the very end? Thatâ€™ll be because itâ€™s constantly throwing up surprises thanks to a pleasingly daft plot.
Everything in Eat Lead is one big lie. The intro explains that Matt Hazard was in a series of hit games dating all the way back to 8-bit 2D shooters and that Eat Lead was meant to be his â€œcomebackâ€ after a series of flops. Namely, Mat Haz Cart and Soakâ€™em – a kidâ€™s shootâ€™em up with water pistols. The reality is, of course, that is Matt Hazardâ€™s first ever videogame. The developers of his comeback – the fabricated Marathon MegaSoft – wanted to include a twist at the end of the first level of Eat Lead that involved Matt being killed off and new character Sting Sniperscope taking his place. But because heâ€™s a double hard bastard, Matt survives and so the developers are told to hack into the game and do anything they can to stop Matt from reaching the last level. This includes altering the game world and pitting Matt against enemies from him previous games, soldiers with water pistols included.
So, one minute youâ€™ll be blasting enemies in warehouses then suddenly a load of cowboys appear and the warehouse is suddenly turned into a Wild West scene. Thereâ€™s plenty of parodies of other games – you get to meet Master Chef, who wears a green chefâ€™s hat – and at one point thereâ€™s a parody of Wolfenstien 3D, with bright blue walls and 2D enemies. Thereâ€™s also battle an anime-styled character that looks like heâ€™s walked straight off the set of a Final Fantasy game. Amusingly, hit points appear above his head when you shoot him and he converses via familiar blue text boxes. Then towards the end of the game youâ€™re supposed to fight Nuke Dukeâ€™em but because heâ€™s taking forever to get ready the fight is cancelled.
If anybody still rents games then this is ideal for a rental – itâ€™s only five hours long and most of the achievements can be obtained on your first play through. Or if you do happen to miss a few, then just replay the second level a few times as thereâ€™s plenty of opportunities to get the achievements for shooting 30 fire extinguishers and 30 plant pots and also the one for attacking a bandit from behind. See what they did there?
As TVâ€™s Harry Hill might say, â€œparody games, more of them please!â€