Brutal Legend Review

By Mike on 10:14 am

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"I kept hearing that metal is dead and Ozzy's dead and people that like Ozzy are dead. I have never had an empty seat. I've always sold out, so who's saying it's all over?" - Ozzy Osbourne

Eddie Rigges is a legendary roadie working for Kabbage Boy, one of the world's worst heavy metal bands. His job is to make the band look good from behind the scenes. Eddie is crushed by the stage scenery saving the life of a band member when a stunt goes wrong. His blood leaks out into his belt buckle, awakening Ormagöden. The best kills the band and transports Eddie into a metal themed underworld. There he gets wrapped up with rocker chick Ophelia and a small group of humans fighting the evil General Lionwhyte and an army of demons.

Brutal Legend is the brainchild of legendary adventure game designer Tim Schafer. Schafer is responsible for classic games such as the Monkey Island series, Day of the Tentacle, and Grim Fandango. So you know this game is going to have a unique twist to it.

Gameplay is a cross between a classic action-adventure title and real-time-strategy. Eddie gets an axe which he can attack or defend against enemies. His other axe, Clementine, can bust out some serious tunes to incinerate and shock enemies, rise relics, or create vehicles out of thin air.

Brutal is an open world game where you can choose to follow side-quests of focus on the main mission. Much of the game revolves around defeating the flamboyant Lionwhyte and his army of glam metal-heads. It eventually leads up to a battle with the demon lord Doviculus.

Much of this involves large scale battles that are a cross between action and RTS. Eddie recruits his army of metal-heads and can direct them to attack enemies or defend positions. It's just like any other RTS in that respect. However, he also joins in on the battle.

Rock on with a battle of the bands

It's an interesting concept that I don't think I've ever seem before. But, it's not exactly smooth. You really have to keep tabs because you can't see where all your troops are at any given time. The game also doesn't allow you to select individual units. Your troops can only be ordered to attack in a specific direction, and will battle any enemy they see.

A weak AI means you`ll also find yourself carrying most of the load single handedly. The one problem with console RTS games is they`re overly simplified and it can be a bit of a learning curve for those seasoned on the PC.

I wasn't able to get far into the game so I didn't see the full range of units available. The three basic types are head-bangers (melee), razor girls (gun unit), and Thunderhogs (medics). You can team up with other units to do combo attacks or get special perks. For example, with head-bangers, they`ll make a human shield to protect you. Titan spirit wells act as spawn points for more units once you build a merchandise stand over them.

There is some vehicle gameplay as well. Eddie gets the Druid Plow, a car which he can use to travel quickly across the overworld. It can be upgraded in the Metal Forge using in-world currency. While there are some vehicle missions, they don`t factor in as much as other types.

The overall difficulty of Brutal is fairly low. You're not going to encounter too much of a challenge. Boss fights are epic but not too hard once you get the pattern down. It's more of a casual open world experience. Brutal feels like a short game compared to other open worlders. You can extend it by doing all the side quests if you like but the main story should only take a few hours to finish.

Game design isn't as sharp as some other titled from the past year. Brtual Legend really holds well to the classic metal look though. Dark but flashy with an epic feel to it. Schafer`s team had done a great job at capturing the metal scene.

The game really shines with its licensed sound track and voice acting. Brutal has an A-List cast of metal rockers lending their talents: Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halfard from Judas Priest, and Lita Ford from The Runaways. Jack Black voices Eddie Rigges and also plays himself. Tim Curry plays the demon emperor Doviculus, which is a brilliant choice. Most of their characters are modelled after the people who voiced them, which is a nice touch. Ozzy as the Guardian of Metal was definitely a laugh out loud moment.

Speaking of Ozzy, the game features a great licensed soundtrack including songs from Black Sabbath, Motorhead, Rob Zombie, Judas Priest, and many lesser known metal bands. Brutal wouldn't be the same experience with an in-house soundtrack.

I didn't encounter any technical issues with Brutal Legend. The game`s graphics do look a little outdated but I can get past that. Schafer was going for a more cartoonish style. The game runs at 720p and features an excellent audio track. I didn't notice any glitches or slowdowns on my PS3.

The AI does leave something to be desired. I often found myself carrying most of the load because my units were off somewhere else. Sometimes they seem to ignore the enemies right in front of them even after telling them to attack. It's definitely something that could be improved.

Brutal is an interesting game that combines action with RTS, just not all that well. AI hiccoughs, short length, and low difficulty leave something to be desired. However, it`s still a fun title and I absolutely love how much they put into the metal aesthetic. Great voice acting and a great licensed soundtrack really carry it. The lower difficulty makes it well suited for casual RTS players. It's definitely worth a rent. Rock on brothers, rock on.

What works
-Great licensed soundtrack
-Superb voice acting
-Variety of mission types keeps it from being stale
-Fantastic game design with a unique metal themed world
-Not too hard, makes it a great game for casual RTS fans

What doesn`t work
-Poor unit AI
-Can feel too easy at times
-Overly simplified RTS controls
-Feels a bit too short

Score: 8 out of 10

Images courtesy of Wikipedia

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