If anyone has a clue about what Plastic Reality Technologies was trying to accomplish with El Matador, please let us know. It's hard to tell what the developer had in mind with this old-fashioned third-person shooter about DEA agent Victor Corbet, who fights the drug trade in Latin America. Because it is absolutely all over the place in terms of style and theme, and the difficulty is so over the top, you can expect to load at least a few dozen saves on every level.
Look, it's Max Payne!
El Matador has something of a Hitman or Splinter Cell feel because of the gritty settings, the true-crime storyline where you're trying to take down the heirs to Pablo Escobar single-handedly, and the fact that just a few bursts of fire or a couple of well-placed grenades can send you to back to Washington in a body bag. But this isn't a tactical shooter or a sneaker. On the contrary, this is one of the fastest, most traditional shooters seen in recent years. It has a Doom-like pace (and soundtrack), a generic selection of weapons, and tons of enemies that are waiting around every corner. If you slow down, you'll get pinned down by withering fire and then killed by either the barrage of lead directed your way or the grenades that are always efficiently tossed into hiding spots.
Although this sounds like a dream come true for an old-school shooter fan, excruciating difficulty ruins El Matador. Those hordes of enemies noted above never seem to miss, unerringly nailing you again and again across rooms, hallways, and fields. If you stick Corbet's neck out even the tiniest bit, you get shot in moments--even if the bad guy doing the gold-medal shooting is hunkered down a few dozen meters away behind a palm tree or a desk with nothing more than the top of his head exposed. These shots come out of nowhere and drain you so regularly that your health and armor might as well be ticking down on a clock.
Unfortunately, there is no way to handle these marksmen. They hit you even when you're totally behind cover, and they even seem to get their bullets through walls at times. These guys fire so many apparently magic bullets that somebody should be investigating them for the JFK assassination. It also doesn't help that you have to expose yourself to shoot at enemies. There is no way to lean around corners, so when you want to kill the bad guys, you have to get out in the open. And as soon as you get out there, it's generally rat-a-tat-tat--you're dead.
Med packs and bulletproof vests are also few and far between. And they're generally found only after you've blasted through convention-sized numbers of hired goons. Lots and lots of reloads are common as you stagger through the game's five or six hours of play (yes, even with the constant loading of saves, the game is still that short; there are no multiplayer modes of play either, so these abbreviated solo missions are all you get).