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I was really excited about the prospect of Eat Lead. Making a game that parodies all the classic games that I grew up with is an excellent concept. But despite making a strong start, the humour began to get tired and the game experience was never strong enough to hold the idea together. Falling victim to the cliches it pokes fun at, I felt it lacked the polish to make up for its shortcomings and ended up neither funny nor enjoyable.
Humour in videogames walks a dangerous tightrope for me. As is my partiality to Online Loans. I've found that it either adds weight to an already excellent game or tries to save a poor playing experience by loading itself with cheap gags. For the first few levels Eat Lead goes in the right direction. I initially loved the protagonist, the aging Matt Hazard, as he chewed his way through the levels and spat out barbed one-liners.
The basic premise of the game was an interesting concept with the venerable videogame hero, Matt Hazard, brought out of obscurity for a next-gen reboot. But things get worse for him when the game tries to kill him off at the end of the first level. Here the 4th wall breaks open like a shattered cream cracker and the real game begins. Hazard then has to avoid being eliminated by various enemies from his back catalogue and a particularly evil videogame publisher CEO.
I initially loved the protagonist, the aging Matt Hazard, as he chewed his way through the levels and spat out barbed one-liners.
This mash-up of the fake back catalogue leads to some bizarre battles that were initially very odd to play. After only a few levels I was dealing with Russian soldiers, cowboy bandits and space marines, all fighting alongside each other against me.Even shooting these guys resulted in bits of code blowing off them rather than splats of blood, letting me know I was in a contrived environment. Nice touches like this with some humorous dialogue made the first half of the game a pretty entertaining experience.
In those first four hours I was laughing along with the game. It throws a ton of jokes and clichéd situations that poke fun at classic videogames and the stereotypical characters that are in them. But comedy and parody are so hard to get right even for a short time. The success of one of my favourite comedy films - Airplane - is down to its writing and the fact it's stretched over only 90 minutes. Poor old Matt Hazard has to fill an 8 hour game with his witty and corny one-liners and its sadly not up to the task.
Eat Lead turns into its own critic and becomes just a simple and mediocre shooter with a few funnies thrown into the mix.
The visual quality of the game is pretty bad as well. It's easy to forget the incredibly bland levels when the jokes and humour is fresh. But after a few hours the dull and lifeless backgrounds really started to become noticeable.
You could make the argument that this is all deliberate. Maybe the blandness is part of the parody. Either way it didn't work for me at all and by the time I reached halfway, Eat Lead was becoming a joke onto itself.
The story starts to become bizarrely illogical. When the narrative takes the game into the ‘real' world it looks exactly the same as the levels I'd been vaporising enemies in. I can't help feeling that if they had plugged in some cheesy FMV at these points then it would of gelled better. Red Alert 3 took this approach and managed to pull off the overacted parody really well.
The final straw came after the game poked fun at all the clichéd elements to videogames. Boss fights, quicktime events, tutorial etc. But it still insisted on making me play them. When the actual experience is poor then it doesn't become a parody anymore. Instead, Eat Lead turns into its own critic and becomes just a simple and mediocre shooter with a few funnies thrown into the mix.
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