Synonymous in the nineties with PC graphic adventures Grim Fandango and the Monkey Island series, designer Tim Schafer's finest hour came in 2005 with cult-classic platformer Psychonauts, created by his own development house, Double Fine. Though the game's commercial impact was only modest, it was well-received by critics and adored by fans, ensuring Schafer's penchant for quirky quality was beginning to bear fruit. Brütal Legend, released in 2009, would make a far greater landing sales-wise, but despite the involvement of rock royalty and some assured design, the game flatters to deceive.
Those who've sample the demo could be forgiven for thinking the game was something along the lines of a God of War-with-guitars. In reality, it's an open world title with heavy metal décor, mixing some thin real-time strategy elements with half-hearted hack 'n' slash fare. Despite its somewhat niche-market stylisation, Schafer made no secret of the fact that he and Double Fine needed the game to be a commercial success, and to a degree, it was. Brütal Legend shifted more than twice as many units as Psychonauts, but as a gaming experience, it doesn't scale the same highs.
You take control of Eddie Riggs, a roadie who gets pulled into a world of bound serpent statues, giant skulls, unwashed moshers, groupies, vicious wildlife made of metal, leather-clad leaders with free-flowing hair and just about everything else ever to adorn a heavy metal LP cover, combined and brought to life. Eddie, voiced superbly by Jack Black, is a refreshing, relentlessly positive character who embraces his roadie destiny to unite the oppressed masses under the banner of his faction Ironheade (with an extra 'e', to show they aren't messin' around). With the help of its leader Lars Halford, his sister Lita, and Eddie's love interest Ophelia, the bunch are tasked with defeating the evil Emperor Doviculus and his brilliant glam-rock underling General Lionwhyte, who was based on David Bowie.
Eddie finds out fairly quickly that his guitar "Clementine" can do extraordinary things. In the main field of play, he learns solos that allow you to summon the "Deuce", a beefed up hot rod that's his chief mode of transport in the game; raise relics and motor-forges used to upgrade the attributes of the Deuce; win over brainwashed head-bangers and generally please the metal Gods.
On the main battle stage, the solos play an integral role as things assume a real-time strategy focus. You can rally allies to your position, call on the support of nearby wildlife, or go for some more offensive manoeuvres. The best is unquestionably "Bring It On Home"; an incredibly cool, apocalyptic solo that sees a flaming zeppelin nose-dive into your designated target and results in a gigantic explosion. It's one of the most satisfying attacks you'll see in a game, absolutely awesome.
Trouble is, the strategy setup of main missions doesn't really work. Beginning at your own stage, you must win over "fans", spend them on various units of heavy-metal themed infantry and attack your opponent's stage. It's not suited to console control, but the lack of variety in how battles pan out means there's little to really engage the player anyway. The few times the player is encouraged to use a concerted plan (such as ordering roadies to perform a sneak attack) prove a hassle as giving an isolated command is fiddly, because its through Eddie that you give the order, not a menu. Consequently, a lot of the time your whole army follows an order intended for one group, whilst squads have a frustrating habit of ignoring regroup commands and instead go off to fight elsewhere. Despite a broad variety of battlefields, each encounter unfolds very similarly, with aggressive troop deployment pushing opponents back and allowing the player to battle to their stage. Should you so choose, you can wander around bludgeoning enemies to your heart's content with Eddie's axe; the limited range of moves mean it's not the most cerebral of pursuits, but does at least feel like it fits in the scheme of things.
The open-world elements are familiar but enjoyable as far they go. The missions, which include one-on-one checkpoint races in the Deuce; wildlife hunting; sneak attacks on enemy groupings and base defence are all pretty decent fun for a little while, though they're not overly distinctive. The most fun is gleaned by driving around the environment, admiring the remarkable rock-themed iconography. The Screaming Wall, a cliff-face made of speakers is particularly impressive, with vicious sound waves reverberating outwards toward the sea. Mt. Rockmore also deserves a mention as you can carve the likeness of up to four of the games characters into the landscape, whilst there are scores of other great vistas that are well worth tracking down.
A love of heavy metal is not essential to your enjoyment of Brütal Legend, but there's no question that a lot of the more subtle lyrical puns, references to rock stars and visual touches will perhaps pass you by if, like myself, who know the genre only as far as its most recognisable icons. Still, we're treated to a surprisingly coherent cameo from Ozzy Osbourne as the Guardian of Metal, as well as Lemmy of Motörhead whose character heals with his bass playing. You can chat to him a fair bit over the course of the adventure, though in truth Lemmy does sound a bit far-gone for the most part. Fans of the music will love the immensely comprehensive soundtrack that features over 100 tracks selected by Schafer himself.
Generally, Brütal Legend's presentation is of a high standard. From the title screen that sees the unfolding of a vinyl sleeve and record as a means of selecting options, it's as creative and stylish as you'd hope from a Double Fine production. There's an evocative, colourful landscape to explore, but it isn't without its technical frailties, as particularly when driving around in the Deuce, you'll see enemies popping up from nowhere at relatively close distances, whilst muddied backdrops seem to receive a coat of texturing even as you drive towards them. Still, the enemy design is really good with a lot of imagination going into the design of the creatures that roam the land. The best of an odd bunch include panthers that shoot lasers from their eyes, razorfire boars which are best described as boars crossed with motorbikes, and there are even some woolly mammoths in the icy hills.
Elsewhere, the story is good but the scripting lacks a sparkle that's usually a dead-cert with Schafer's projects. Paying so much attention to the heavy metal theme has meant some of the humour has been sacrificed which, given that they drafted in Jack Black to voice the central character, is somewhat strange. You can talk to various characters pre-battle and interact with those who offer mini-missions throughout the map, but there's little variety in these exchanges and the assembly of personalities on the whole doesn't have the magic of Psychonauts' misfits.
The main adventure is fairly lean; lasting only 5 or 6 hours if you focus on the story missions, whilst completists should find another 3-4 more in the secondary quests. The limited length means the narrative starts to go slightly awry in the closing stages as several big events are condensed into a short time-frame.
Clearly a labour-of-love for Schafer, Brütal Legend's heavy metal universe is crammed with affectionate nods and references that fans will get the most out of. Unfortunately, the strategy elements seem ill-placed and, despite some clever touches, never work to their full potential. Exploring the landscape is a real pleasure, but with some surprisingly derivative secondary missions, routine combat and a brief main story, it's not one for the ages.
Now then I'm a gamer and I love metal so it was pretty much pre-determined that I'd love this game. The annoying thing is that I know there are people out there just like me with consoles and they just haven't bought this game.
Brutal Legend is the perfect addition to your collection should you be a metal fan and even if you're just aware of the metal sub-culture. From the get-go you're immersed in a rich world of metal that you'll really wish you could visit yourself. The game starts by introducing protagonist Eddie Riggs a true metal roadie with an amazing knack for what he does. Unfortunately for him, the golden age of metal is far gone and he's stuck roadie-ing (I've just coined a term) for a young emo band who have no appreciation of true metal.
Whilst saving one of the band members who's of course decided to do something stupid, Eddie is injured. His belt buckle summons a great metal beast from another world and the next thing Eddie knows he's in a strange cave with some druids about to kill him. This game definitely has a strange plot and I'm sure you're aware of that by now.
So without giving the game away (I have never used that term whilst talking about a game. I love the Irony), Eddie is in another world which consists of everything metal. There are swords, head bangers, evil glam enemies, evil goth enemies and that's not even the half of it. The game tries and succeeds at using elements of the metal subculture to create a hilarious world. An example of this is that the evil tyrant Lionwhyte (who looks like a member of Motley Crue complete with big hair and make-up) is enslaving the stupid and ignorant masses known as head bangers. The head bangers are stupid people dressed in jeans and black t-shirts with long black hair and most importantly seriously over developed neck muscles from head banging all day. They are imprisoned in Lionwhyte's mines to smash rocks with their heads. This is hilarious! The game even has Ozzy and Lemmy in it. WIN!
So yeah the story is amazing! On to gameplay which in this game isn't actually very important.
The game consists of a free roam of the metal world travelling to and from main quest missions and side missions. There's certain RPG elements in that you can level up your weapons and spend your metal tributes to buy new equipment. The missions fast become a real time strategy scenario where you employ and manage different units to beat your enemies, you can get involved too by wielding your axe (an actual axe) and your axe (non-metallers read guitar). It isn't the best system I'll admit but it's kind of fun and nowhere near spoils the game as some people have said and will continue to say.
Brutal Legend is so cheap now and has been for some time. It's around £12 on amazon so it's not going to break your bank. What it WILL do however is offer you a gaming experience like no other in terms of both story and gameplay. Don't listen to those who say the game is 'ruined' by the gameplay itself, not only is this over dramatic it's also not true. The story alone along with all the metal references is enough without the gameplay. You do know Jack Black is Eddie Riggs right? Do Buy!
(Also on Ciao)
Brutal Legend was one of my anticipated games when it came out because it featured Jack Black, The story follows Eddie Riggs who is the best roadie, and he makes an army to rid heavy metal heaven from the evil bad guy who is called Lord Divicilous.
All I can say this game is just epic the writing is sharp throughout the game, but the humor does wade of a little bit as you progress through the game. I really enjoyed the storyline but I kind of lost interest towards the ending and doesn't keep the explosive opening from the start of the game.
I feel that this game is a must for any heavy metal fans; there are a lot of cameos, slander jokes, and pops against the modern new heavy metal songs that you might be accustomed to these days. Jack Black really excels as Eddie Riggs and you can tell that he is really committed to his characters and shows through the game.
This game has very good voice acting throughout, the characters animations are done well and matches the quality of the voice acting as well as its expressive and also lively. There is a lot of heavy metal theme throughout and is done well from the art styles and the graphics, the cartoony effect of this game really works well considering the source material of this game I feel. I felt the creature design were top notch but there were kind of limited throughout the storyline and would have preferred from them to have more role.
This game feels like a strategy game you command troops on a battleground made up to like a giant rock concert, your fans serve as your resources, this isn't just a full strategy game as you can go into combat and beat up your enemies with guitars and you do bunch of combo's, I really like face melter move what this move is that it melts the face of the bad guys as you are playing the guitar how cool is that.
There parts of the game where you can race with vehicles and you can even using weapons to shoot your enemy I liked how the gameplay was very varied.
But one downside to having only three main gameplay is that through the hours you're sitting through the story the gameplay starts to get repetitive even though it is fun at times, also another disappointing this which I think they should have added is the ability to jump which kind of annoying as sometimes your path is blocked and makes the game feel a bit limiting as exploration is such a large part of this game.
There is a multiplayer mode which I enjoyed which you can play with up to eight friends and you have a battle with the bad guys which I thought was a good add on.
This game for me was very enjoyable from the beginning right to the end and just keeps you engaged from the excellent acting and the good story, and also there is a lot to explore in this varied world, also the game play is well above anything I have seen in these kind of games and it leaves a lasting feel and also the styling really compliments it well.
Having been a hardcore gamer for over 20 years I have a tendency to be far too harsh when reviewing computer games and in my eccentricity tend to become somewhat angry when games are allowed to go on sale to the general public who are easily dupable by elaborate television advertising. That was the concern when I first saw the advert for this game - no game could possibly have what this game seemed to offer and it must be too good to be true. How wrong I was....
From the very outset it becomes apparent that a great deal of time, thought and effort has gone into every aspect of the production of this game. Even the opening sequence to the menu sparks humour and excitement - particularly to fans of heavy metal, Tenacious D and Jack Black. The game play is easy to learn but difficult to master as is the Holy Grail for preventing premature monotony and boredom as the basic battle moves become more elaborate as the controlled character 'Eddie' earns skills to add to his repertoire. In addition the main story line is detailed but not difficult to follow or daunting. Even so if there were not a considerable number of side missions and innocent creatures to maim, which is a genius little addition, it would not take long to complete- particularly on the easier levels of difficulty. There is also a splash of GTAesque style driving to add to the games longevity.
Although the game play is excellent the real appeal of this game is it's vast soundtrack (well over 100 tracks from various awesome rock bands) the appearance of a number of rock superstars, in particular Ozzy Osbourne as the Guardian of Metal, and wonderfully acted voiceovers and cut scenes. Jack Black's performance as Eddie is inspired as humorous personality is able to shine through even in sequences of blood lust and danger. The graphics aren't bad either, not perfect or particularly beautiful but well animated and glitch free.
Overall this is an excellent game - it is playable, has a great soundtrack, a few bits of humour dropped in and a good dose of sex appeal. I would recommend that any Metal fan buy this game but I don't think individuals who are not a fan of that genre would appreciate it to its full potential and it would be a waste of money.
Now I am not your average 'gamer' I have never owned a console and have only ever had a few goes on my boyfriend's PS3... well technically it's our PS3, but I have just never been interested in the games, until that is... Brutal Legend came out!
I am a big fan of Jack Black, but thats not why this game is so awesome! (Well it adds to it) the music is amazing and really gets you into the game. Visually its fantastic, with loads of cool movie scenes to tell you the story. Jack Black injects his humour and passio for Rock into the character 'Eddie' and other characters such as Ozzy Osbourne appear throughout! The game it'self, in my opinion, has something for everyone. How else could it have attracted me, the practical computer game virgin to spend hours in front of my TV!? There are fights, places to explore, people to meet, an awesome car to drive and various innovative, if a little strange, tasks (try pulling the carcass out of a wart hog to make a weapon!?)
I have'nt finished the game yet, but this is the first time I have felt like a game is worth finishing! I want to find out what happens to the characters! I would recommend this to anyone who likes games, rock music and Jack Black, and even if you're not into those things, I'd still say give it a go!
This review was originally written for Ciao, my screen name on Ciao is 'Karibou'.
If you're a gamer who's a fan of heavy metal, then this is the game you've been waiting for. It's a third person action game that takes place in a world of heavy metal. Everything (and I do mean everything) from the enemies, to transport, to the very world itself is metal.
You start the game as Eddie Riggs, a down-on-his-luck metal roadie who has been reduced to hauling equipment and building stages for your typical emo band. He receives something of a knock to the head and is transported magically to the world of his dreams. Once there, the game's simple controls are explained in about 15 minutes, along with the beginnings of the story.
As you progress through the game, you get to upgrade your equipment, that being your axe, your 'axe' and your car, and pretty importantly the upgrades are great. There feels like a lot of difference between your old and new stuff, and there's always a reason to go back for more - the shop, and its shopkeeper, are always full of surprises. You'll also pick up extra powers throughout the game in the form of guitar solos. With them you can do stuff like summon followers or beasts, summon your car, or fend off enemies with power moves such as the oh-so-literal facemelter.
There are a fair few cameos in Brutal Legend from the metal world from the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy Kilminster and Rob Halford. They're all very well done and are pretty humorous. However they, and indeed the rest of the game stay on the right side of parody - never veering onto the insulting - so the game's a joy to play. The cameo cast are also well used, but they never feel overdone. It doesn't feel like the game focuses on them too much, overuse them or uses them to drive the game. They just pop up every now and then and these fleeting moments will have any metalhead squealing (or should that be growling?) with delight.
The game plays out something like Overlord - a third person action game not entirely unlike God of War, with spatterings of RTS thrown in in the second half of the game. The first action half is definitely the game's stronger point. The RTS bits never really capture the same charm, although they are fun and break the game up well. It's also nice that whilst controlling the action, our hero can jump in and kick ass of his own if the need arises.
The one major downside to the game is its length. If I hadn't done every (and I do mean every) optional and non-story side quest, I think I could probably have burned through the main story in about 6 hours. That said the secondary quests are fun, reasonably varied and very rewarding to do, so there's really no reason to not do them. Also if you're that way inclined there's plenty of treasure hunting to do in the way of stumbling across the hundred or so statues, views and story segments scattered across the world. These are very non-essential, and are more than I could be bothered with, but if that's your bag there's enough here to keep you coming back after the credits roll.
Another negative is that navigating the huge world can be something of a chore. There's a map, but it can only be accessed via a button press, and it takes over the screen. There's no minimap, radar or helpful arrow to point you in the right direction when you're traversing the map. So when you're navigating the world, especially in the later stages, you'll often find yourself driving for a bit, checking the map, driving a bit more, checking the map, and it does get a bit irritating after a while. I appreciate that Tim Schafer has tried to keep the screen as uncluttered as possible - indeed there are literally no indicators onscreen when you're playing - but this is one I would have almost given my right arm for.
All in all though, one of the best games I've played this year. It's a must for metalheads, but even those who aren't will be hard pressed to hate this game. It's just a shame it's so short.