Codex Gamicus

Eat Lead: the Return of Matt Hazard is an action game for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The game was developed by Vicious Cycle Software and published by D3 Publisher.

Matt Hazard pits players in the role of the title character, a "legendary" gaming hero who is "returning to glory" in a new video game, some 25 years after his debut game and 6 years after his last game. In reality, the Matt Hazard character is in his first video game, with a history made up by D3 Publisher to chronicle the character's rise and fall in popularity. The Return of Matt Hazard marks Hazard's fictitious "comeback" to the gaming scene. Hazard is voiced by Will Arnett, while Neil Patrick Harris voices his nemesis Wallace "Wally" Wellesley.

The game itself is a parody of action-gaming clichés. The October 2008 debut trailer was done as a Behind the Music spoof called Inside the Game complete with Jim Forbes narration. It chronicles Matt Hazard's successes and hardships, and mirrors the progression of the Duke Nukem series of games, from early 8-bit to modern consoles.

The cast of Eat Lead received a nomination in the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards, under the category for "Best Cast".


Eat Lead is a third-person shooter where the player takes the role of satirical video game character Matt Hazard, implementing an over-the-shoulder camera perspective with combat emphasizing a duck-and-cover system using walls and other objects in the game’s environment, in a similar fashion to Gears of War. Much of the scenery provides only temporary cover as after a certain amount of damage, it will glitch and be "edited out" of the game, leaving a tear in the level. While in cover, Matt can target and automatically run towards another piece of cover instead of moving manually.

Matt can only carry two weapons at once from a continually changing selection, due to the repeated manipulation of the game's environment and level switching. As the game progresses, weapon upgrades are made available that can be applied for temporary effects such as bullets that can freeze enemies. These upgrades can be used again after a meter is filled by defeating a number of enemies. If close enough to an enemy, a string of close combat strikes can be performed.


In September 2008, a pair of websites appeared. The blog, "The Real Matt Hazard", as well as the website "Weapons of Matt Destruction", served as a viral marketing campaign to promote the game. Each would serve to establish Matt Hazard and his fictional video games as major influences that have shaped video gaming into what we see today. For example, a blog post identifies Matt's first arcade game, 1983's The Adventures of Matt in Hazard Land, as "the original 8-bit side-scroller", while other Hazard games are responsible for such gaming events and annoyances as "the Steamy Coffee Controversy", the ability to jump in a game, and longer development cycles. They also established the series' fictional developer, Marathon Software. Matt Hazard was "resurrected" by D3 Publisher when they announced the newest game in the Matt Hazard series, Eat Lead.

On October 3, 2008, Eat Lead was officially announced, alongside a third Matt Hazard website, "Matt Hazard :: The unofficially OFFICIAL guide to the world's greatest game hero ever created!!!". The site details the history of ten of Hazard's games, which all focus on a different gaming stereotype or parody other similar games of the era:

A trailer was released for Eat Lead alongside the announcement. "Gametrailers World Exclusive Debut Trailer". Retrieved 2008-10-04. In the trailer, a modern Hazard sits down for a Behind the Music-style interview (complete with voiceover from Music's Jim Forbes) in which Hazard and other characters (themselves clichés of the "old-school bad guy" and the "mandatory hot chick") reminisce about Hazard's rise in popularity as his polygon and pixel count grew, up until his fall when he was put into "kiddy games". The trailer concludes with Matt stating that he doesn't give up that easily and that he's making a comeback.

Game Informer notes that Will Arnett voices Matt Hazard, while Neil Patrick Harris portrays Marathon executive Wallace "Wally" Wellesley. The magazine adds further that "characters like Captain Carpenter and Master Chef are more overt references to specific franchises."

Marketing and promotion[]

The January 2009 issue of PlayStation: The Official Magazine features an "interview" with the titular character.

Parodies in Matt Hazard[]

The game includes many parodies in its dialogue, settings, and characters. This process of parodying action games and other genres is greatly assisted by the fact that Matt Hazard is capable of breaking the fourth wall. The parodies include references to long elevator waits as a mask for game loading, text scrolling RPGs, tutorials, various action games, Mario Bros., Duke Nukem, Dungeons & Dragons, Bugs Bunny, evil twins, Halo's Master Chief, Wolfenstein 3D, Red Steel, Mortal Kombat, Arnold Schwarzenegger, "Resident Evil", and more.


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings Xbox 360:53.86%

PlayStation 3: 54.56%

Metacritic Xbox 360: 53/100

PlayStation 3: 51/100

Review scores
Publication Score D
Eurogamer 3/10
Game Informer


GameSpot 6/10
GameSpy 3/5
GameTrailers 5.8/10
GameZone 5.4/10
IGN 5.2/10
Official Xbox Magazine


Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard has received mixed reviews and has an aggregate score of 52 on Metacritic. IGN gave the game a 5.2/10, and said "you march into a room, take cover, shoot everything, a door opens, and you move to the next room to perform everything all over again." GameSpot gave the game a 6/10 praising the "clever video game parody" and "awesome music", but criticized the "derivative level design" and "cheap enemy placement".


A sequel, entitled Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond, was released for the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade.

Some boss encounters will switch gameplay to an interactive cinematic where Matt must dodge and counter boss attacks through a quick time event system requiring certain buttons to be pressed or tapped when promoted on screen.

External links[]