Considering the original Matt Hazard game--Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard--spent much of its time making fun of classic game tropes, it's either ironic or inevitable that the tough-as-nails fake-retro video game hero would make his next appearance in an old-school side-scrolling shooter. Hazzard's next adventure will find him heading back in time in the upcoming Matt Hazard: Blood Bath and Beyond, a downloadable game for Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network. Publisher D3 came by earlier this month to give us a glimpse of this blood-soaked shooter ahead of its release in early 2010.
The plot of Blood Bath and Beyond features Hazzard going back in time to prevent the evil gaming corporation Marathon MegaCorp from destroying his 8-bit self from the good old days. Along the way, he'll be blasting his way through multiple levels of bloody 2D shooting action that mixes in occasional bits of 3D for variety. Controls in the game are straightforward: You use the A button (on the Xbox 360 controller) to jump, the X to fire, and the right trigger to throw grenades; you aim shots by moving the left stick in any direction. In certain areas of a level, you'll encounter enemies that are "behind" the action on the 2D plane--pressing the left trigger will let you turn Hazard so he fires at those enemies before they can get too close to cause problems.
Weapons are plentiful in the game, both in terms of quantity and variety. Shotguns, flamethrowers, grenades, ice guns, and plasma rifles are just a few of the weapons Hazzard and his sidekick Dexter Dare (playable when in co-op mode) will have at their disposal. They'll need every one of those weapons, too, in order to deal with the waves of enemies that assault you in each level. We played two levels of the game. The first--known as Booty Call--had Matt and Dexter fighting pirates in a level that culminated with a boss battle against a huge living lighthouse while onboard a ship. During the battle, the lighthouse occasionally fired missiles that we deflected by shooting at them, turning the missiles back at the lighthouse and eventually destroying it.
A second level featured a Japanese theme, as Dexter and Matt fought off a seemingly unending horde of ninjas and samurais, culminating in a three-tiered fight against a huge monster known as the Rhinozilla. From the name alone, we're guessing you can imagine what this boss looks like. With huge dollops of blood being splashed onscreen at regular intervals and a good deal of the fictional retro humor that permeated the original Matt Hazzard game, Blood Bath and Beyond looks like a fun (and more focused) video game lark than its predecessor. Look for the game on Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network in early 2010.