Brutal Legend

Review

posted 10/13/2009 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: 360
Tim Schafer is an over-the-top kind of guy.  With two decades of game development under his belt, Tim isn't afraid to swing for the fence and create some of the craziest games of all time.  Games like Maniac Mansion, Grim Fandango and Monkey Island are still being talked about today thanks to their devilishly clever writing and great narratives.  This time around he has teamed up with another over-the-top kind of guy, comedian/actor Jack Black.  Together they have set off to create Brutal Legend, a game based on the loudest, craziest, most obnoxious music genre there is: Heavy Metal.  Together these two guys have created a genuine masterpiece, a game of the ages that combines fantastical action with one, dare I say, an over-the-top concept that is just so crazy that it works.

Eddie Riggs is the pure embodiment of all things Metal.  He's the world's greatest roadie working for a band called Kabbage Boy, a flavor-of-the-month Nu Metal group who is more concerned about becoming the next Jonas Brothers than Metallica.  Eddie is a product of the good old days of heavy metal, a time when men weren't afraid to grow their hair long, wear excessive leather and destroy their eardrums with the beautiful sounds of The Metal.  He feels his talents are being wasted with these kids and their crappy music, but he does his job and stays in the shadows (just like any roadie worth their weight would).


Things are different on this particular day.  While Kabbage Boy "rocks" out on stage, Eddie makes sure that the instruments are in tune and ensures that nothing bad happens to the band.  If somebody drops their guitar, he's there to give them a new one.  If somebody falls from a stage prop, Eddie is there to catch them.  Eddie can do just about anything ... well, everything except for survive a large piece of the stage falling on him.

But the rock gods are looking out for our hero.  Instead of being crushed as flat as an LP, Eddie's blood mixes with his belt buckle and he's instantly transported to a Hellish medieval world inspired by some of the greatest heavy metal album covers of all time.  While most people would be horrified by their new surroundings, Eddie feels right at home in this heavy metal universe.  This is where he belongs.  So with a battle axe and an electric guitar in tow, Eddie sets out on the greatest heavy metal adventure ever told.

In Brutal Legend you play this heavy metal roadie as he assembles a ragtag group of metal heads and tries to take down the oppressive force enslaving this mystical world.  You battle through twelve levels to make new friends, herd wild animals, defeat the opposing army and, most importantly, rock out.  But like the music it's based around, Brutal Legend offers more than meets the eye.  At first it will look and feel like your typical 3D action game, sort of a poor-man's God of War.  But look deeper, because the game has a funny way of quickly turning into something that resembles a real-time strategy game.


Actually, let me rephrase that, Brutal Legend does more than resemble a real-time strategy game; it IS a real-time strategy game.  At least part of it.  While there are plenty of sequences where you are doing nothing more than running around the large heavy metal-inspired open world, most of the major battles are done in the style of a WarCraft or Command & Conquer type game.  And while Brutal Legend is nowhere near as deep or involving as those RTS classics, there's something intoxicating about the mixture of strategy and action.

While most console strategy games get bogged down with complicated controls and excessive rules, Brutal Legend keeps it simple.  Each battlefield has several different resource centers, a small geyser where the souls of fans fly out looking for somebody to deliver the music.  Your job is to cap those with merchandise booths.  This allows you to collect fans, which in turn can be used to buy units and upgrade your stage.  Upgrading your stage will allow you to create bigger and better units, making it easier for you to take over the enemy's stage.  You can build units no matter where you are and moving your soldiers is as easy as pushing a direction on the D-pad.
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