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Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond (Xbox 360) artwork

Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond (Xbox 360) review

"After the disappointment that was Eat Lead, a mundane attempt at video game satire, I really, truly wasn't expecting its sequel to be hot stuff. I started playing it, realized it was a run 'n gun title in the tradition of Contra... and waited. For what? For Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond to suck."

After the disappointment that was Eat Lead, a mundane attempt at video game satire, I really, truly wasn't expecting its sequel to be hot stuff. I started playing it, realized it was a run 'n gun title in the tradition of Contra... and waited. For what? For Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond to suck. But it never happened.

Unlike its predecessor, BBB doesn't try to be this epic parody title, instead offering a fun, legit shooter that pokes fun at and pays tribute to other games in a consistent manner. Take the third stage, which begins on a building in Canada, right beside an elevator. With no where else to go, you travel down into the building, via the moving box, taking note of the row of doors on your lefts and rights. Suddenly... Mounties! But not just the RCMP bursting out from rooms, but laser beams of life-ending supremacy shooting from the walls! What to do, where to go? Why are there specific, red-colored doors?? Minutes later, and with a whole bunch of Canadians added to your kill count, you find yourself on the roof again. And there appears to be metal coated with red and blue paint. Intriguing.

With the aid of a missile falling from the blue, blue skies, you eventually find yourself on the ground, in front of a factory which manufactures mini-tanks modeled after moose. That explains the massive police presence, and the hockey rink that's guarded by a ginormous Zamboni packing heat. Get it? Because Cana... the level ends in a confrontation with Joliette Five, a towering robot with caterpillar tracks and unique pair of camera lens eyes.

It's amazing that one stage from BBB outperforms nearly everything presented in Eat Lead without breaking a sweat. I guess the development team took to heart all the negative comments about the first release, because they had their game face on for the sequel, delivering a fun romp that's reminiscent of the earlier Metal Slug titles. What I mean is, those games were by no means innovative for the genre, but they were still enjoyable blastfests, thanks to a diverse cast, vivid locations, and variations in gameplay.

The action never really dies down or goes in one direction long enough to become repetitive. One stage starts off in the open on a cruise ship, as you have to fend off crew men and an army of bartenders sporting afros. This eventually changes as you reach the insides, plastered with art-deco and patrolled by giants in scuba gear with spear guns. You'll also have to dodge mechanical contraptions in the engine room, and move yourself to higher floors by flooding rooms. A later stage will place you in a proper "Russian attack" situation, fending off soldiers at a missile base and running from a large snowball. As time passes on, you'll trek deep underground and into a test chamber, which happen to be littered with cubes, turrets, and death traps, oh my. Not to mention the appearances of snow monsters and mutant penguins that love to vomit on your poor avatar.

Oh, don't worry, I didn't give much away. Surprisingly, BBB has a hefty dose of references, both from video games and TV/films, something Eat Lead had trouble doing properly. And, for something of its kind, this sequel is pretty lengthy, taking well over one hour to complete on your early playthroughs. It's not an easy journey, though, as enemies are prone to killing Matt Hazard easily if you're not quick with the reflexes. You do get continues to use, but I like that the developers made sure to deduct from your overall score whenever one is used. A simple, but effective way to punish those that like to abuse them. This encourages the use of your resources whenever possible, whether it be weapon pick-ups like machine guns, flamethrowers, and grenades, or your Carnage Meter, an ability that temporarily makes you stronger and invincible for a short period.

If you want a tougher experience, however, then I suggest playing on the hardest difficulty setting, subtly labeled "Fuck This Shit!" Let's see how far you can get with good 'ol fashioned, one-hit deaths.

As fun as BBB is, it's unfortunately a tragic release. The game has a lot going against it to warrant its status as an overlooked, entertaining product; it's an Xbox Live Arcade sequel to a disappointing retail game that's not well-known to begin with, it's still going for 1200 MS points a year after its launch, and its overall community rating is at 3 stars out of 5. The latter two together is enough to drive anyone away that's never heard of the "franchise", let alone someone who's experienced Eat Lead. Considering the dire circumstances for this series, BBB is likely going to be the last title, as jokingly said by Matt within the game. That's sad, really, as another 3D, retail title in the spirit of this digital release could have been great.

All I can say is, if you're willing to download Metal Slug XX and Hard Corps: Uprising for 1200 MS points without a problem, then I don't see why you shouldn't do the same for Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond. I found it much more worthwhile than what those two had to offer.

dementedhut's avatar
Community review by dementedhut (May 29, 2011)

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