A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard is a parody game, and that even though the game talks about previous Matt Hazard titles, there are none. The game is a self-referential spin on the video game genre which tosses in clichés from the past twenty plus years of gaming. While there is violence throughout the game in the form of using guns, there is no blood due to the game-within-the-game conceit where dying is thought of as being permanently deleted.
What's it about?
EAT LEAD: THE RETURN OF MATT HAZARD is a confusing title for a game that marks the first appearance of the title character. But it is the back story of Matt Hazard that propels this humorous adventure through tried and tired gaming conventions. You play as Matt, a video game action hero, who has appeared in numerous games over the years. Now, he is working his way through eight levels of games that he has appeared in before, ranging from takes on current gaming styles such as detective work in the opening level to blasting your way through the blocky two-dimensional world of early 1990s era first-person shooters.
Taking a very tongue-in-cheek look at the gaming industry, the title pokes fun at almost every gaming convention out there, be it in level design, or even the voice work. One boss battle makes fun of the traditionally androgenous look of characters in Japanese role-playing games, and the massive amounts of text that generally accompany those types of games.
Is it any good?
If it wasn't for the outstanding voice work by Will Arnett who voices Matt, and the villain of the game voiced by Neil Patrick Harris, the fun factor would drop dramatically. With a sometimes very frustrating level design (such as the sniper sections on level three or the boss battle with a tentacle beast) it can be easy to see some gamers giving up on the title early on. Small bugs in the game like a movement glitch that keeps Matt moving even when you don't want him too and tricky aiming mechanics also add to the frustration.
The sense of humor within the game saves it from being a not-worth-playing frustrating experience. The question here is: will gamers under the age of 25 really get most of the jokes or references made? It seems this title is best played by older gamers, who will enjoy the references to classic games of long ago, rather than their children.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about videogames through the years. As with other retro styled titles, does Matt Hazard hold any relevance to today's younger gamers? Or is this title purely aimed at adults who've played games their whole lives? Does the parody aspect of the game make things like repeating short musical tracks and old fashioned level design OK? Or should the developers have strived for more?
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