Given the celebration of retro in the teaser trailer and with an omnipotent no-good programmer hacking the game to hinder Hazard at every juncture, we were sort of hoping that Eat Lead would be a lawless, creative funfair where the only rule would be that there were no rules. But not so. Instead, we watched the hulky-framed Hazard duck-and-cover, dual-wield, blind-fire and dispense trashy one-liners through a series of plodding shootouts in a selection of mundane environments.
Above: Matt Hazard in an environment we've seen several times before
From what we saw, rather than take the premise and dive-bomb with abandon into a creative world without boundaries, it looks like Eat Lead will be content to merely paddle in the shallows.
Certainly the bits where we witnessed the game being 'hacked' were definitely the most interesting: downed enemies 'de-rezzing' and disappearing in a flickering fizz of code; portals materialising and spewing out incongruous zombie enemies; levels being recoded and changing in an instant from a kitchen, to a Wild West scenario, to a night club. All cool and groovy, but still pretty pedestrian when you consider the limitless possibilities the hacking hijinks could accommodate.
Above: It's pretty neat when the level is 'hacked' and an entirely new variety of enemy, such as zombies, magically appear
If we're honest, we guess the real problem we've got with Eat Lead is that it's just not looking like the game we want it to be, or think it could be. We quietly hoped there would be the chance to sample Matt Hazard's mock legacy. A 2D romp through 'The Adventures of Matt in Hazard Land' perhaps, or a Haz-Matt Karts inspired driving segment. But, to our dismay and disappointment, none of that sort of stuff is going to be in there. Which seems a massive shame.
Above: These are some of the mock retro screenshots of Matt Hazard's previous games. We're sad none of these retro concepts will appear in Eat Lead
As a result of our preconceptions, the prospect of playing what Vicious Cycle is actually cooking up is nowhere near as enticing. We hope another, more extensive run in with Matt Hazard will give us reason to rejoice about his return as Eat Lead is a game we really want to like. However, at present we can't help feeling that it's going to be a decidedly unremarkable, fanfare-less mock comeback and something of a missed opportunity.