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Interview: Brian Etheridge on Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard

Tuesday, 27th January 2009 14:53 GMT By Mike

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Videogaming247 has sat down with Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard lead producer, Brian Etheridge.

We asked him what makes Eat Lead unique, the trials and tribulations of development, and all kinds of interviewy things like that.

He even reveals that the game will be released in March for 360 and PS3.

You can watch three new gameplay video and check out loads of brand new screenshots here.

Full thing after the break.

By Mike Bowden

VG247: For our readers who might not know what Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard is all about, could you give us a brief rundown of the plot?

Brian Etheridge: The game “Eat Lead” revolves around the main character, Matt Hazard. Matt is one of the great video game heros from the 80s. He started back in the 8-bit days and worked his way up to recent history pumping out games like no one’s business. Since his glory days, though, Matt fell on some hard times. He tried to push his company’s games in new directions with games like “Haz-Matt Carts” and “Soak’Em” (a kid-friendly game where everyone was armed with squirt guns instead of real guns), but Marathon bit the dust. Matt was thinking that his video game career was done when a mysterious new investor came on the scene and bought out Marathon, renaming it to Marathon Megasoft. They offered him a shot at a comeback and Matt jumped at the chance!. As we get through the game, we find out that everything is not as it seems, someone is trying to make it Game Over for Matt!!

The premise of the game is unique to say the least. Why has the team chosen this approach? How will the “fiction” of the character affect gameplay?

Well, I think the main reason is because it’s something that they thought would be fun. Dave Ellis, the lead designer is a huge gamer as well as a great writer, especially when it comes to comedy. So I think that when this idea struck him, it was something of a “If I could make any game I wanted…” type situation. It also lends itself to some pretty unique opportunities, in terms of what we could do with the game. In a “normal” game, you can’t put a space marine next to a cowboy and expect to get away with it, but in Eat Lead, that is all part of the fiction.

The fiction of the character affects the gameplay mostly in the form of Matt’s enemies coming back to haunt him. There were some dark, evil corners in Matt’s past. Some of those dark corners are filled with brain-munching zombies while others are filled with genetically cloned 2D Nazi super soldiers. Other than that, there are also nods to Matt’s old titles throughout. For instance, there are definitely times in Eat Lead when an old fashioned mega damager booster pickup will come in handy.

Aside from the plot, what gameplay elements are unique to Eat Lead? Why should we choose your game over the other 3FPs out there?

I think that it all comes down to variety. We have a good amount of enemies and weapon types, which I think most games can tout, but I don’t think they can talk about having the variety that we do. Where else can you punch out a parka-wearing, cold war era soviet troop, pick up his AK to take out an old-west bandit, snag his double revolvers to head shot a Space Marine, then take his plasma rifle to blast on some hot, sexy robotic babes?

As a third person shooter we knew we wanted a deep cover system so we focused heavily on that! Not only is cover movement really intuitive, we also introduced something we call point and cover where the player can just aim their reticule at any cover object and press a single button to make Matt run there and automatically take cover. It makes getting around REALLY easy.

Another element is cool upgrade system that allows Matt to collect code from his fallen enemies and use those bits of code to add fire/ice damage to his weapons and melee attacks. When these are active, they make it so Matt can freeze enemies in place, shatter them to pieces or light them up with digital fire so they take damage over time while Matt laughs from the comfort of his own cover.

What has been the biggest challenge development wise to date, and how has the team dealt with that?

Definitely, the biggest challenge has been not having enough time to do EVERYTHING we’ve wanted to. As Matt’s back story started to come together, there were so many ideas that came up that were really good, and of course really funny. Just like a movie, though, we have a cutting room floor and some of those ideas didn’t make it into the game… at least not this game. Unfortunately, I have the unenviable task of having to say “no.” That’s the worst job in the world, especially when you laugh at the idea the second you hear it.

The release date is still Spring, can you be any more specific on that?

Eat Lead will hit the shelves this March on both 360 and PS3!

Anything else you want to say about the game? Write it here!

To all of the people out there that tell me that you are huge fans of Matt Hazard and all of his games, please tell me whether you seriously believe that Matt actually existed or not! I know our marketing guys have done a great job of making everyone think he existed, but he didn’t. So when I see a post on our Facebook page where someone says, “Matt Hazard and the Death Knights of Caesar was my favourite Matt game,” I don’t know whether you’re awesome or just trying to be cool.

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