Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard

As a general rule I try to finish a game to completion before I write up the review. Sometimes a game can start off a little slow, but eventually lead up to an epic experience. However, just like certain anime series, if the early parts of the game are such a test of your patience, it doesn’t matter what’s at the end because you’re not going to care. As the trademark Mike Garcia quote goes, “Why would you drag your balls through a mountain of glass just to get to the bactine on the other side?” Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard is one of these games.

This fake Matt Hazard game looks more fun then the real one.
This fake Matt Hazard game looks more fun then the real one.

The game is a third person cover based shooter with very simple goals, walk from one end of the level to the other, killing enemies that spawn along the way. The thing that is supposed to make up for this stale kind of gameplay is the humor, but really there is nothing terribly clever about it at all. Matt Hazard is voiced by Will Arnett, but Matt’s dialogue doesn’t take advantage of Arnett’s talent. It makes it feel like anyone with a gruff voice could have done Matt’s voice. In this universe Matt Hazard is the stereotypical hero of an action game franchise, much like Duke Nukem or Max Payne. The game even shows you the history and evolution of these fictional games from an 8-bit sidescroller, a first person shooter, a GTA style game and a kid friendly shooter with water guns instead of real ones. Matt Hazard games stopped being made in the late 90’s and Eat Lead is supposed to be Hazard’s comeback game. Sounds good enough right?

Here’s where things take a massive turn into confusion. To sum it up, they want you to believe that Matt Hazard is both a video game character and a real life person. Matt talks in a way that makes you think he is a real person. He constantly breaks the 4th wall and is fully aware he is in a video game like when he makes fun of the level objectives at the start of the level. What more is the CEO of the game company wants revenge against Matt Hazard because he could never beat any of Matt’s games as a kid. He plans to get his revenge by killing Matt Hazard in the video game. That would be like me wanting to kill Mario because I could never beat Super Mario Brothers. It doesn’t make much sense in real life and it doesn’t make much sense in this video game either. What confuses me even more is real world is rendered using the same in-game graphics as the video game world. This makes me feel like both worlds exist on the same plane. I think they could have been much more effective if they used cheesy FMV video for the CEO scenes, especially since he’s played by Neil Patrick Harris in this game.

One of Matt's enemies from his previous Western themed game.
One of Matt's enemies from his previous Western themed game.

I could almost forgive this game for its non-sensible storyline, after all it’s supposed to be a parody and not to be taken too seriously. But the gameplay is just way too shallow and repetitive to make up for it. Enemies can be taken down in two ways, one way is by melee attacks. You can go up to enemies and do a quick melee combo that will usually take them down. But since it is risky to expose yourself in this manner, most of the times you’ll be trying to shoot them from behind cover. Headshots are very powerful in this game, so even though there are multiple weapons to pick up, often times you can get through a whole level with your default pistol. While this is nothing new to shooters, the game never varies on this basic run and gun formula. Sure it tries to make you feel like it does. One of the gimmicks in the game is the programmers are pulling enemies from Matt’s old games to fight against him. So in the same level you may fight against cowboys, Russian soldiers, zombies, water gun soldiers, and even 2D Nazi’s that turn sideways to avoid your fire. Ultimately, it all just feels like different skins on the same enemies as the same basic strategy of headshots seem to work against everyone.

Just your typical emo JRPG hero.
Just your typical emo JRPG hero.

To me there is only one saving grace about this game. Matt Hazard is a game about parodies and the funniest by far is the inclusion of a boss that is a parody of JRPG protagonists. The boss is named Cloud Strife Altos Tratus and he is from the game Final Fantasy Penultimate Illusion. During the in-game cinema he even talks to Matt using text boxes complete with brooding over drawn monologues and ellipses. You may think the game is worth playing just to get to this point like I thought it was, but in the end this other method proved to be far less painful.

Ultimately the idea behind Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard is a unique one but just lacks in its execution. The storyline feels very non sensible and wants to blur the lines between reality and video games. While there are many enemy types, they end up all feeling like the same ones just with different weapons. It gets dull in a hurry and almost makes you wish you could play Matt Hazard’s Go Kart racing game instead. To sum it all up in a line I might say if I were in this game, playing this can be very hazardous to your enjoyment.

Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard is available now for the Xbox 360 and PS3.

1 vs 100 Getting Price Hike From Nothing to Something?

Ask some of the Unwound show crew about the 1 vs 100 beta on Xbox Live Arcade and they’ll tell you what a fun positive experience it’s been. However this may all change when the game officially launches late in the year.

Part of Microsoft’s new Xbox Live Primetime idea, 1 vs 100 simulates the gameshow of the same name by pitting Xbox Live users against each other in trivia. The beta is currently free to Xbox Live Gold subscribers, but some Kotaku readers have found something that may hint that it’s not.

During the beta, these readers have found an option to buy a “Season Pass”. Microsoft plans to run the game show over 13 week periods. It is unclear exactly what this pass is as Microsoft has yet to comment on it. Could it just be an option that would allow Silver level subscribers to play the game as well? Or is it truly an indication that 1 vs 100 will become pay-to-play? Hopefully the former, as I’m all up for prizes that are free to win. If I have to pay to win these prizes? Not so much.

Source

Kotaku

Four Days of E3: Microsoft Press Con

Unsurprisingly, a lot of surprising stuff was announced at the Microsoft E3 Press Conference today. Some are the tried and true franchise we come to know and love, and some are on an extremely fine line of genius and insanity. Here is my post game analysis for the Microsoft E3 Press Conference, in conveniently laid-out bullet points!

Moar Sequels!

The titles announced at the MS presser aren’t really surprising. They’ve shown Beatles: Rock Band, Tony Hawk Ride and Modern Warfare 2 early on, and they all look fantastic. However, I still have my doubts on Tony Hawk Ride and its skateboard peripheral, especially since MS has revealed a revolutionary peripheral of their own, which will be discussed later. There are more sequels later on, in the “Exclusive Games” section.

Final Fantasy XIII Gameplay on the 360

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I may have to rethink buying a PS3 for FFXIII.

A lot of gamers doubt how well Final Fantasy XIII will look on the 360. Personally, I thought that the FFXIII might choke constantly, kind of like Squeenix’s The Last Remnant. So far, it looks just like its PS3 counterpart. The FFXIII devs said the game will release in Spring 2010. What’s surprising about this demo was how short the FFXIII devs stayed on stage. I think they were there for 4, perhaps 5 minutes tops.

Exclusive Games

After last year’s impressive lineup of games for the 360, gamers are starting to wonder, what’s left in store for the oldest current gen console for 2009. Well, it looks like MS will do just fine. They’ve announced games that will be released in the next 12 months, with Shadow Complex, Crackdown 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Forza Motorsport 3 and two titles we haven’t seen in a while, much less demoed — Splinter Cell: Conviction and Alan Wake. Alan Wake reminds me of a cross between Resident Evil 5 and Fatal Frame (and Silent Hill as Joe mentioned to me on chat), presumably without the convoluted Japanese style survival horror gameplay.

Halo, Halo, and Moar Halo

Okay actually there are only 2 Halo announcements. One of them you already knew, Halo: ODST, while the other is the rumored Halo: Reach. Halo: ODST puts you into the perspective of a rookie soldier, set in the timeline before the events of Halo 3. Halo: Reach, according to Intarweb speculation, is presumably based on the events of one of the Halo novels, Halo: The Fall of Reach. I’m always excited for a new Halo game, though I admit, I still haven’t touched Halo 3 yet. LOLZ

I’m In Yer Xbawkz, Doin Sum Social Networking

feature_e3_twitterMS has announced that its Netflix integration has improved with the addition of actually queueing movies directly on your 360, which everyone feels should be a feature on day one! They’ve also announced the invasion of Last.fm, Facebook and Twitter on the 360. Basically it’s a way to tell your non-gamer and non-nerdy friends, how much of a nerd you are whenever you play your 360. Also, to increase your lameness, you can now post screenshots of your gaming achievements on your Facebook account! Sweet!

Metal Gear CONFIRMED! Wait, No Solid Snake?

After months, if not years of speculation of whether a Metal Gear game would jump in the Xbox 360, finally the joke has finally come true… sorta. Hideo Kojima made an appearance at the MS presser and announced Metal Gear Solid: Rising (the new tagline is “Lightning Bolt Action”, as opposed to “Tactical Espionage Action”), where you take the role of Raiden, also known as the poor man’s Snake. Okay that’s not really fair; I heard he was pretty cool in MGS4. Who knows? Maybe he’ll be more manly than his debut in MGS2. Release date is yet to be announced… of course.

Waggling is Apparently the Future of Gaming

Project Natal, Microsoft’s answer to Nintendo’s Wiimote and motion control, does look amazing. However, even though it’s forward thinking and seems to  improve a lot of the motion control problems that the Wii suffers when it comes to complex gestures and control, I think it’s a bit too late for Microsoft to jump in the bandwagon. It’s kinda like how the MP3 format is the defacto audio file format; sure it’s not quite as clear as an audio CD or the other file formats, but MP3s is more widely used and many audio and electronic devices recognize the format. Good luck in finding a reliable audio player that can play your FLAC files. Not to mention, brand recognition is also key. When you hear Nintendo, you know it’s going to be family friendly. Microsoft is not known to be a family friendly company for much of its history. Then again, the enthusiast press was floored after seeing the possibilities of this new peripheral. We will wait and see.

Final Verdict: 7 out of 10(TM)

I wrote way too much, so I’ll summarize this quick. Sequels are unsurprisingly amazing, details on new titles are murky at best, Project Natal might happen, but it might end up becoming like Microsoft Surface. The other dudes will have their own analysis of the Nintendo and Sony press conferences in the coming days. See ya then!

Star Ocean IV: The Last Hope

In the future, there was a nuclear war and as a result mankind developed the power of warp space travel. Using this power they were able to visit distant galaxies they call “Star Oceans”. Who will survive in a world of… STAR OCEANS!

So that actually sums up the basic plot behind the game. This game is a prequel to any other Star Oceans and stars off with World War III nuclear strikes ravaging Earth and decimating it’s population. Soon after mankind looks to space for survival and five ships are tasked with colonizing a new planet. You play a crew member from one of those ships named Edge Maverick (parents must have got the name from a list of generic space heroes).

Likes

Non-fantasyesque story. The first thing I noticed is how vastly different the feel of the game is from Star Ocean 2, the only other Star Ocean game I played. Where Star Ocean 2 felt more fantasy than sci-fi, Star Ocean 4 feels defintely more sci-fi than fantasy. So people who are looking forward to a JRPG that breaks the typical storyline mold shouldn’t be disappointed.

Battle pace. First off no random battles makes me a happy camper. Two new mechanics, blindsiding and rush, help break up monotonous button mashing. Blindsiding allows your character to sidestep around an enemy to get a free guaranteed critical strike in. Rush is like a super meter that, when full, can be activated to get increased stats for awhile. It’s definitely something new and makes battles feel more dynamic and like a fighting game-like.

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Uh Reimi, it's not what you think! Oh hell, so... wanna join? ^_~

Dislikes

The dubbing. I know that JRPG’s can have good dubbing as made evident by Tales of Vesperia and Eternal Sonata, but I would rank Star Ocean 4 even beneath Infinite Undiscovery! (Listen to Welch and tell me this isn’t true). It makes it even worse when you hear the same two victory quotes after every battle. However even Infinite Undiscovery’s dubbing grew on me so we’ll wait and see how it pans out.

Lots of story, no action! Like most JRPG’s, there is a lot of exposition you are given before you get to actual gameplay and when you do it suffers from what I like to call “I don’t know where to go next”-itis in which sometimes you’ll be wandering around for a long time before you figure out the next trigger for the storyline. This has always been a huge pet-peeve and I hope that it doesn’t happen as often in the future.

Generic characters. Yeah the overall story is cool so far, but the characters you play as  have felt very flat and one-dimensional. I’m hoping that we see some actual depth to these characters as the story goes on.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for another JRPG to get sucked into, you could do a lot worse. However with stuff like Eternal Sonata, Tales of Vesperia and Persona 4 out there you could also do a lot better. If you RPG’s that break the mold of the traditional fantasy world (not to say it doesn’t have it’s fair share of swords and sorcery) I would definitely say give it a try. If you already got your plate full with other new releases I think it can be passed for now until a drop in price.