Brutal Legend

Double Fine Productions

The Preamble: Innovation is tough; if it was easy then everyone would be doing it and then it wouldn't be very innovative I guess. While it may be tough we as gamers are constantly crying out for it, 'Oh no!' we cry. 'Another bloody Fifa, just the same as last year only now the players get sweat patches and cry if they lose. They still want me to pay £50; what a gyp!' Then we go out and buy it anyway while people who try something a little different like Psychonauts which garnered excellent reviews but still tanked on sales (Ed: until 2012 and the Humble Bundle). So the question is what do we want as gamers? New and innovative experiences like Gone Home and Psychonauts, yearly doses Fifa, Call of Duty and Assassins Creed with the same underlying gameplay just a little shiner or is there room for both?

 

Psychonauts, the best game that nobody bought...

 

The Plot: Eddie Riggs is the worlds best roadie unfortunately he works for the worlds worst metal band Kabbage Boy. To make matters worse during a gig Eddie is crushed by falling scenery while trying to save a member of the band. When his blood touches his belt buckle - in reality an amulet for metal god Ormagöden - Eddie is whisked away to the metal world where he joins the small human resistance trying to save the metal world from the hands of the evil demon Doviculus. So save the world and get the girl, no pressure Eddie...

{youtube}v=Zxnho1yTjRo{/youtube}

 

The Review: There are two things that jump out when you first drop into Brutal Legend; firstly, it is set in a wonderfully realised world that is brilliantly varied and well worth taking the time to just explore and see. Giant gothic statues, a metal mount Rushmore and giant temple to the metal god Ormagöden are just a handfiul of the sights waiting to delight your eyes. The whole metal world looks like it could have been taken one image at a time from the plethora of metal albums in the 70's and 80's. While things have moved on graphically since Brutal Legend was released the imagary is still striking and especially on the PC version the graphics still stand up pretty well.

The second thing you'll notice is the soundtrack (Ed: Oh not this again); Brutal Legend has over 100 metal tracks on the soundtrack everywhere from Tenacious D and Metallica to Cradle of Filth and Anthrax. Eddie can unlock more songs using his trusty guitar which takes on magic properties in the metal world including being able to summon a rather nifty (if pain in the arse to control) car. The soundtrack really is a love letter to the genre and there is something in there that I think everyone could enjoy, even if some of the more obscure stuff is a bit of a turn-off for some.

Stop looking at the girl it's the statue I'm trying to highlight here... Groovy eh?

 

Say what you want about Brutal Legend but you can take nothing away from the passion that Double Fine have put into building a memorable and interesting playground for the player. The story too is not a bad one and offers up more than it's fair share of laughs. All of the characters are well voiced, with Tim Curry and Jack Black in particular giving excellent performances; even Lemmy and Ozzy Osbourne give surprisingly effective performances.

You start the game in control of Eddie, exploring the metal world in what feels like a pretty standard button-mashing action-adventure. Spamming the attack button throws out simple combos, there's also a power attack, dashing attack and some nifty guitar specials like the shocker and earth shaker. Eddie hacks his way through vsrious demonic hordes and the combat feels pretty solid. Later in the game you can unlock a host of new moves by buying them from Ozzy in the Motor Forge.

As you progress you uncover the open world which you can zip about in the Deuce plowing down enemies and collecting the myriad of collectables, songs and lore. As mentioned above the world is wonderfully realised and there is plenty to see and do; the handling of the Deuce could use a little tweaking but it is far from broken. There are also a bunch of side quests to take on, including mini-battles race events and hunting the indigenous wildlife. These are fun to start with but can get repetative (there are loads of them) and the later hunting missions can be frustrating as you cruise around unable to find the number of animals you need to ice to progress.

 

Handsome devil eh?

 

When you progress further you unlock the devisive real time strategy element of the game. There is only one resouce to mine (geysers of excited metal fans) and you only get one base (a stage) so it feels a little simplistic but you also get to buzz around the battle field as Eddie, organising the troops and smashing the demon hordes personally. The problem for many I think is that the game is neither a really good hack-and-slash action game, nor a deep RTS game or even a perfect open world game. There are better examples of each genre out there and fans of one genre over another might be left cold by the other bits getting in the way of the fun.

 

 

The Score: 7/10 - Brutal Legend is set in a wonderfully stylized world, full of humour variety and above all metal! In the hands of any other develper this would be a hodge-podge of ideas that don't quite come together to make a cohesive and rewarding experience but Double Fine's love of the material really shines through and makes the whole greater than the sum of its disperate parts. It's not the complete package by any means but there is a lot to love in metal world of Brutal Legend.