Developer: Double Fine
Release Date: 10/13/2009
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Ahh, good ol’ metal. That is exactly what you’ll say when playing Brutal Legend thanks to Tim Schafer’s genius imagination, and Jack Black’s great voice acting. Brutal Legend isn’t exactly revolutionary, but it does have some ideas that are interesting.
When it comes to the story this is one of Brutal Legend’s strong points. You play as Eddie Riggs who is a roadie and gets sent to another world, and that world is full of metal. Eddie runs into many characters, but his main goal is to find out why he is there and defeat the evil lord Diviculus.
The game starts out strong and shows you the ropes of combat and your Deuce. Yes, the vehicle you drive around in the big open world. Combat consists of a strong attack and a normal attack followed by your axe. Your axe can shoot lightning upon foes or burn them. Along with this, you can smash down on the ground to send foes flying. There are some upgrades you can get that will extend combos and lead into using your axe, but combat is pretty shallow. Nothing ever really evolves, and it can even be a bit sluggish at times and a tad unresponsive. Upgrading the pain and strings on your guitar can make certain attacks more powerful. Not only can you upgrade your ax, but the Deuce as well (more on that later).
While you may think combat sounds shallow you can also use “superpowers” which are little riff mini-games that can do certain things. The main ones you will use will be the ones to summon your Deuce anywhere. Another is the face melter which is followed by a great camera cut of melting faces! There is even one to rally your troops, block your enemies from creating more troops, and so on.
Finding the relics for these powers is a huge pain since the world is so big and finding these rare relics can be tough, but wait a second I’ll get back to the open-world later.
First, let’s finish the combat. Yes, you can upgrade your vehicle with weapons to help shoot down foes and even get a secondary weapon such as mines or flamethrowers. The main focus of the game is RTS…wait…what? RTS? You’re kidding me, right? I thought this was a God of War type game…I’m very sorry, but this is true and while it works it is the game’s biggest letdown. I too thought this game was all action-adventure until I got hit with a tutorial on how to do this. Well, to make things simple all your basic RTS elements are here: Creating troops, upgrading your “base” to create stronger troops, and collecting “resources” to fund all this. With a unique take on RTS, you have to build “merch booths” on green holes in the ground to create fans which in turn let you create troops. Upgrading your base, up to two times, lets you create greater troops like roadies, bouncers, and even fire barons. You have basic troops (headbangers) and chicks that shoot fire out of their guitars. There are a lot of units, and while you command them around the map via a light you can tell them to hold, attack, go to, or follow you. Eddie gets to fly around the map and when you need to aid your troops you can use any of your “special attacks”. If Eddie dies he respawns at his stage thanks to his fans.
Now while all this sounds simple it really is TOO simple and could have been cut from the game. There are “in-between” levels that have you fetching these troops, or going from A-B and I really liked those missions better. The RTS just took too long and felt out of place in an action-adventure type game. I was also disappointed to see only two boss fights which were at the beginning and end, thus the developers used side missions as fillers in between story missions. These side missions are interesting at first but become extremely repetitive since there isn’t much of a variety.
Side missions vary from helping the Ironheade (yes with an E so people know we’re serious…) members ambush an enemy convoy all the way to racing. Some other missions consist of using your vehicle to fight off convoys and the rare unique side mission. There is even a hunting record-breaker, but this allows you to send that creature into battle to help you fight. Of course, you get something for completing these missions and that is fire tributes. Think of these as currency to buy stuff at the store.
My favorite part about the whole game is actually the art style. Everything from the trees to the rocks to the animals is influenced by metal from the 70s and 80s and Double Fine captured the feeling perfectly. The graphics are amazing and the voice acting is top-notch, but you can’t help but notice the attention to detail in everything. Not only is the art style unique, but the execution as well such as the dry ice mines, and the great wall which is made of amps that are so powerful they can kill you. Everything is pure metal and so is the great 40+ song soundtrack.
Brutal Legend isn’t for everyone, but metalheads or people who just appreciate great games or music will enjoy this very much.