Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond - Cheat Happens Game Review
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Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond
Playstation 3, XBox 360

Reviewed on: XBox 360

Developer:
Vicious Cycle
Publisher: D3Publisher
Rated: "M" for Mature



CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

   
   
   
Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
   
CHEATfactor: 6
   
     

Retro is in. Just ask the developers behind the upcoming Mega Man 10, which revels in its 8-bit nostalgic appeal, or Shadow Complex which mixes old school gameplay with cutting edge visuals. Seeing as how everything old is new again – Matt Hazard’s newest faux adventure should be a hit right? Not so fast.

The quirky titled Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond absolutely nails the tongue-in-cheek, humorous tone but falls short with its simplistic gameplay. At first, fans of classic run and gun shooters will find the game charming, but after extended periods of play – it begins to show just how thin of a package it is – even for a $15 downloadable title.

If you don’t remember Matt Hazard, consider yourself lucky.  Last year’s Eat Lead: the Return of Matt Hazard was not only one of the worst games of the year – it was one of the worst games ever. Seriously, as of this writing, the game’s highest score is 52 on metacritic. The game was – for lack of a better term, broken. For its sequel, the game’s developers Vicious Cycle have gone back to the drawing board, completely rethinking the franchise. Gone are the failed attempts at third-person shooting and Gears of War style mechanics in favor of a much simpler, much more approachable Contra-esque shooter.  The switch works well for the title – well, it at least works better than its predecessor.

"...only get to play in the souped-up Contra type world."

 
   

It’s best to think of Blood Bath and Beyond’s title character as a video game hero impersonator. Through means of the original game and this sequel, we’re lead to believe that Hazard is a legendary video game hero making a triumphant comeback. In reality, last year’s game was the character’s first. This time around, the developers delve further into the character’s fake back-story by having Hazard jump back in time to his “previous games” preventing an evil corporation from destroying him.

Much to my disappointment, you won’t get to see Hazard in different game eras; you’ll instead only get to play in the souped-up Contra type world. You run in, you shoot everything that moves and you move out. It’s really that simple. There are some pretty cool tricks that make Blood Bath and Beyond fun to watch, like the ability to shoot into backgrounds, but unless you’re a hardcore Contra fan (or really dug Shadow Complex) you’re likely to get bored awfully quick.

Luckily, it’s not Blood Bath and Beyond’s gameplay that serves as the main attraction here – it’s the game’s tongue-in-cheek, take no prisoners humor that steals the show. If there ever was a gamer’s game, this is it. There are more than a few not so subtle nods to some of gaming’s biggest titles including Mario, Portal and even Mirror’s Edge. The best moments though are the ones where the game has the gall to poke fun at itself, and it’s often put down predecessor. Just try not to laugh when this game’s Matt Hazard rescues an older version and tells him to “take some extra months in development for his next-gen debut because the reviews will be brutal.”

"..it doesn’t want to be taken seriously."

 
   

This, in essence is Blood Bath and Beyond’s biggest strength; that it makes no bones about the fact that it doesn’t want to be taken seriously. The hero is a joke, the story pokes fun at games and gamers in general and there’s no shortage of cartoonish violence – no kidding, defeated enemy’s limbs and guts fall to the ground in a rather humorous way. The game could also win best load screens, as you’ll play Plinko (you remember – the Price is Right game) with your enemies bodies to score boosts.

After playing through Blood Bath and Beyond, I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that there were some rather suspicious omissions. First, the game is a downloadable title, meaning I have to be on the Playstation Network or Xbox Live to download it right? Then why is there no online support for co-op? Yes, if you want to play through the game with a buddy you’ll have to have them in the room. Sure, it’s retro to not have gameplay – but come on!

Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond is miles ahead of its predecessor, but that’s not saying much. The retro inspired world and amusing gameplay is fun for a while, but after a while you’ll notice just how thin the package is, even for a $15 downloadable title. Gamers looking for a trip through their gaming past with some extra cash (or points) to spend may want to check this one out, but it’s hard to recommend with games like Castle Crashers and Shadow Complex readily available for download. 

 

CHEATfactor

CHEATS USED: Achievements/Trophies

Let’s be honest here, old school games and codes are synonymous with each other – so why doesn’t Matt Hazard come with a single cheat? Sure, there’s the achievements and trophies you’ll be able to unlock throughout gameplay, but why not unlimited ammo, all weapons or invincibility codes? If the developers at Vicious Cycle are as into the retro gaming as they seem, hopefully we’ll find some cheats before long. Stick with Cheat Happens for more.

 

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