Tag Archives: The teardown

The Teardown: Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard

Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
Release Date: February 26, 2009
Average Scores: 51, 53

I love Will Arnett. If I could only send out six invites to my next birthday party, I’d send at least four of the invitations to his house to make sure that he got the message on the off chance that he’d actually show up. While I’ll completely ignore his role in BoJack Horseshit, his representation as G.O.B. in Arrested Development and his guest appearance in this, the literal greatest video of all time, are the perfect embodiments of the loveable idiot. My love of Arnett and my gaming passion hasn’t intertwined until the release of Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard, which puts Arnett into the armor as main character Matt Hazard. This seemingly perfect fusion is anything but; this game is a huge mistake.

Or a collection of huge mistakes if you want to nitpick. Coincidentally, none of these blunders stem from nitpicking because the game is almost immediately busted from the start. The sad part is, the game knows it.

WILL
WILL

Matt Hazard is a video game character that knows he’s a video game character. He rose to fame in the 8-bit days only to sell out and crash into the digital dirt with the release of high definition gaming consoles. It’s stupid, meta, and admittedly a great premise, but the game almost does my job for me by making fun of itself at every turn. Games have done the whole “hey, look at this dumb video game thing!” and Eat Lead pulls that cliché a lot, however I’ve never seen a game cold-heartedly jab at itself this intensely.

Hazard insults the boring level layout, the dumb tutorials, and tears into the game’s one original mechanic all within the first hour. It’s almost as if these started out as legitimate jokes to developer Vicious Cycle Software and then became a sad, grim reflection of its troubled (maybe even arrested) development.

AR
AR

It’s like the fat kid in fifth grade acknowledging the fact that he is fat in hopes that others will not find fun in teasing him. Its initial humor wears off as it becomes a dark reminder of something more bleak and serious.

Although childhood obesity is much more funny than anything said in Eat Lead, and that should tell you a lot. Besides the aforementioned hackneyed jabs at video games, the actual moment-to-moment dialogue is cringeworthy. The crude animatronic animation can’t distract the viewer from the awkward dialogue that makes up every scene. Here’s a rough exchange between Hazard and the stereotypical Russian bad guy:

Russian: “I snuck a nuke into America right under your hoses!”
Hazard: “It’s ‘noses.'”

NETT
NETT

I’m not even sure what the punchline is supposed to be there. He mispronounced a word. That’s it. There’s a craft to having dialogue that’s simultaneously terrible and god damn amazing. However, that takes skill and nuance far past anything found in this game. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, which was the right way to do a game parody, showed this by having intelligent cringeworthy dialogue. It paid off; that game was hilarious. Nothing of the sort is in Eat Lead.

Blood Dragon could lean on its shooting mechanics as well as its script while Eat Lead doesn’t get either luxury. Firing a gun is a general approximation of what you might hit because of the huge boxlike crosshair. The slightly racist enemies might die if you hold down the trigger long enough. At least they are nice enough to only occasionally use cover. Cover is optional to foes that spawn behind you as well, since almost every firefight has a surprise posse roll up from some closet in the back corner to pump you full of holes. Counting on these idiots to have self preserving actions and be fair, would be probably too much to expect.

If you must actually see what this ugly game looks like, here you go.
If you must actually see what this ugly game looks like, here you go.

I did expect more from you, Will Arnett. I know it ain’t easy being white, but come on! Putting out a game with you as the protagonist shouldn’t let me down after I’ve picked up the controller. I’ll still love you unconditionally and continue to watch this video and pretend that you’re talking to me, but this should be the perfect marriage of you and video games. Sadly, this game is a product of its time where putting out a haphazard (now that’s wordplay, Hazard) Gears of War clone was enough to call it a day. It’s almost as if I forgot its release date and expected a bad game from 2009 to magically achieve greatness in the drastically different gaming landscape of 2015.

Stupid, forgetful Michael.

STUPID FORGETFUL MICHAEL

The Teardown: The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct

Millions upon millions of people flock to AMC’s The Walking Dead each week, much like an actual flock of zombies. Millions of people also flocked to Telltale Games’ brilliant adventure game based on the series. You’d think going two for two would be a good place to call it quits but that would just leave you and me with any sense in this situation. Some individuals lacking foresight and good ideas disagreed and that’s how The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct got pushed out of a crusty sphincter and plopped onto shelves.

I know I make a lot of poop jokes in this column. A lot. I guarantee that at least three jokes involving poo will get edited out of this specific piece, but this is the closest games I’ve played in a while that actually resembles a pile of number two. It’s extremely brown, dry, and covered in a lot of blood.

This looks a lot like my senior picture in high school.
This looks a lot like my senior picture in high school.

By that, I mean that the game’s color palette is made up exclusively of a fairly accurate crap shade of brown that only gets its only color from the blood that splashes out of each debrained zombie. Maybe they aren’t even zombies. These could just be what regular people from Detroit look like. I don’t know. I’ve never even been there.

The redneck main characters do sort of look like Detroit people, although with heavy dose of homoerotic tension in every scene. I don’t watch the show but these two hillbilly survivalists, Merle and Daryl (aw how cute, their names rhyme), spend the whole game looking for each other and argue in between the implied gay sex scenes. That’s about as much as I could gather from the barren plot that mainly pushes you to gather gasoline and car parts. I assumed it was a love story and a poorly glued together one at that.

Wait a minute…

Upon further research, I just found out that Merle and Daryl are actually brothers. I still stand by what I said because an incestous love story is more interesting than whatever I was actually supposed to be paying attention to. And besides, they are from the south. Incest is basically a right of passage there. It’s frowned upon to not take your sister to prom and almost impregnate her.

Not pictured: the million other zombies right behind you.
Not pictured: the million other zombies right behind you.

These inbred twins travel from one ugly city to the next looking for gas and – you guessed it – each is filled with zombies, which is where the game crumbles. The game can’t figure out whether it wants you to kill or fear the flocks of zombies so it haphazardly keeps one foot in each ideal. Given that you can endure the sluggish controls, you can easily pimp slap a walking corpse to its second death but the game cheats when faced with greater numbers in order to artificially inject some difficulty.

If you wander too close, you’ll get grabbed and enter one of the most broken game mechanics within the past decade. As you grapple with these Detroit people (remember that joke?), a cursor appears that you have to line up with a target that allows you to murder a single zombie. You’ll do it again. And again. And again. And again. And again until you frustratingly perish in this conga line of death or escape through a succession of lucky strikes.  I made up for the lack of consistency in this mechanic with my consistent stream of obscenities because fuck this stupid garbage shit for garbage people.

I too have bled out of my ass on a truck in the middle of nowhere. Don't ask.
I too have bled out of my ass on a truck in the middle of nowhere. Don’t ask.

I don’t feel for the garbage people who purposely bought this game. They deserved what is coming to them. I do, however, feel for the people who accidentally purchased this instead of the other infinitely better Walking Dead game. That would be like expecting a steak dinner but instead getting just about anything from Arby’s. And that’s what this disaster is in a nutshell: an Arby’s when compared to the fine dining that is the other Walking Dead game, the television show, or the comic book series. You have three other brilliant ways to absorb this franchise. Don’t make Survival Instinct the one you choose.

The Teardown: Escape Dead Island

Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Release Date: November 18, 2014
Average Score: 40, 32, 52

I didn’t think it would happen, on the first Teardown of 2015 no less, but a game for this column finally broke me. I didn’t finish Escape Dead Island. However, I didn’t need to endure the entirety of the game to come to the conclusion that Escape Dead Island is a massive runny puddle of lukewarm diarrhea. In other words, its long list of imperfections make it the perfect game for this piece.

I pride myself on completing these games. Every single one of these broken messes. No matter how many controllers I’ve almost destroyed; no matter how many aneurysms I’ve almost had, witnessing the end credits means that I’ve come out on top on these games which started from the bottom.

I'M TRYING TO TURN BACK.
I’M TRYING TO TURN BACK.

Bottom-dwelling games, like Escape Dead Island, fall into the category of leechers, biting off its main franchise (Dead Island) without also grabbing the features that people liked about it. Escape doesn’t have any leveling mechanics, quest structure, four-player co-op, or a weapon-crafting system like Dead Island did. What it does have is… well, it really doesn’t have much of anything to actually do. You run to a place, grab a keycard, then run to another place. It’s like running useless errands, but these errands are for Hideki Tojo, and you’re also covered in giant, hairy spiders.

Now, go Google Hideki Tojo is so you can understand that joke.

STILL TRYING.
STILL TRYING.

Combat and stealth are a crap shoot filled with crappy shooting. Wonky aiming makes the all-important headshot a farfetched dream, while hitting a zombie with a bat is always a nightmare. Clubbing a pack of zombies never works, except when the game flips a coin and decides that it does. There’s no rhyme or reason;. Just some twisted glitches in the code that can only be lightly likened to “luck.” There are no pointers to give in combat because no strategy is consistently effective.

And that’s why it broke me. The extreme difficulty spikes didn’t come down to skill. It boiled down to how much I could run past the bullshit and pray that I could get away unscathed. The laggy controls can’t keep up with faster zombies near the end so, at a point, when pitted against a room of brain-dead flesh- eaters, I quit. I don’t hate myself that much to go through that.

It's a zombie, you idiot.
It’s a zombie, you idiot.

But I did hate myself enough to play about 90 percent of the game. Even after all that time, I’ve been racking my brain to come up with a reason of why Escape Dead Island exists. It can’t be for profit. No one would buy a garbage fire this hot and… garbagey. It can’t be for its gameplay, of which it has none. And the gameplay that is there is either mindless, frustrating, or both. It can’t be for its looks because it makes vomit look like a Jackson Pollock painting. It can’t be for the story because, it doesn’t really have one, unless you count non-sequiturs and cringeworthy acting a story. If that counts as a story, then this is some Shakespeare ass shit.

Actually, it’s just ass shit that doesn’t deserve a second of your time or any more of my time. I apologize that you had to even think about this game and I apologize to myself for playing this wretched filth.

Apology not accepted.