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Brutal Legend (PS3 & X360)

Brutal Legend (PS3 & X360)

Tim Schafer isn’t your everyday developer and he has been creating wacky and amusing games for many years, however finally he has been given some marketing push with his latest game Brutal Legend. We think you will be surprised that such an unusual concept is actually one of the most original and fun games we have played this year.

As soon as the game starts you can immediately tell from the intro that this game is firmly marketed with a tongue in cheek – it pokes fun at the direction (or lack of as the case may be) of heavy metal in the last 20 years. Surprisingly however even with all the silly laughs and humorous scripting there is a rich and very appealing game under the surface. Brutal Legend is in many ways a celebration of classic Heavy Metal and hurls many insults in the direction of nu metal, hair metal and other more widely accepted genres. If you grew up on Metallica and other metal music then this game is just going to suck you in on a subconscious level and tickle your funny bone at the same time.

You take control of Eddie Riggs, an amusing roadie who knows his place isn’t in the limelight, his job is to make sure that the stars of the band get the perfect setting for their concerts. As he is warped back in time he maintains his roadie outlook on life and the scenarios are both hilarious and very playable.

The game successfully combines genres to create a very complete whole. When you head into the story missions for instance you take control of troops on a battlefield who look exactly like an audience from a classic rock concert in the 70’s. Eddie can join the battle himself which is an interesting twist to the mechanic and once you are outside of the story missions the game can be enjoyed through various racing sections as well as a shooter mechanic. It might sound like a mess up of game styles but it actually all combines well to create a very varied and interesting experience.

Brutal Legend is an excessive game in many areas, including the gore level which is lessened by the cartoon nature of the graphical style. You will see people getting decapitated, blood is sprayed all over the screen and I am sure it will offend a specific audience, but it really is not at all to be taken seriously. The title is rated M for mature in the states so if you are old enough to buy it then you shouldn’t really be offended in the first place. If you are a protective parent or just particularly squeamish, then you can turn the gore off. Equally so the language can be filtered and the ‘parental advisory sticker’ appears over some offensive gestures on screen – quite hilarious!

The real time strategy aspect of the game is great fun in multiplayer as players can take control of any of the games three factions – including the bad guys. A total of eight players can head into the battle with four on each side across seven maps and they all focus on the simple goal of destroying the enemy base.

Outside the battles and the main story line there is a open environment for people to explore with a plethora of secrets and unlockable content to be earned. There are also side quests to complete which are marked on your map so you don’t need to aimlessly wander about looking for them. Not all the secrets are marked however so if you like working without prompts the game caters for those players as well. Unfortunately while the main missions are very enjoyable, the secondary missions are lacking in variety with only a handful of activities to keep people interested. This means that you will be repeating the objectives until they are all completed. You can complete the game without handling the side missions but you will only complete around 50 percent of the overall game if you avoid them – whether this is a good thing or not is open for debate. I would personally rather have had more main story missions and less secondary objectives to complete. When you complete the main story incidentally the game lets you continue and tackle the secondary missions if the desire takes you.

The game currency is called ‘fire tributes’ which is something you would expect to see in a Tenacious D movie – this is given to Eddie after pleasing the Titans and they can be earned by completing secondary quests, main missions, battles and finding hidden treasures. Stat tracking keeps you fully informed of what is still to be found as well as your game progress and even details the number of unlocked songs and how many enemies you have wasted.

An unusual decision by the developers is that the main character, Eddie can not jump at all and even though the lazy, chubby persona of Jack Black is handling the characters voice, I think even he could make a good attempt at jumping from time to time. This isn’t really an issue in that you never really ‘need’ to jump, but the collision detection can sometimes go awry and you can get stuck on certain objects in the environments. Its frustrating and could have been easily avoided – thankfully however its a simple matter of reloading the last saved game, which occur on a regular basis.

Visually the game is impressive, with a very distinctive style being used with works very well for such a surreal and inventive game design. It isn’t going to be pushing any new boundaries, but it is effective and adds to the experience which is exactly what this kind of game needs. The facial animation also deserves a mention as it reflects the characters mood very effectively.

Another strength of the game is the audio side – the main character Eddie is voiced by Jack Black and he is, as always, hilarious in the role. There are also other stars such as Ozzy Osbourne who handles the voice of the Guardian Of Metal – to great effect. All the other characters are acted to the highest standards by a fine cast of supporting actors.

Brutal Legend is one that we feel many people might overlook, due to the cheesy and somewhat ‘b movie’ style appearance it will have on a store shelf. Under the surface however it is actually one of the most enjoyable games this year and will appeal to an older audience who will get a better grasp of some of the jokes. Jack Black breathes bags of life and personality into the character of Eddie and I would be surprised if people playing this aren’t chuckling on a regular basis. Developer Double Fine really deserve a pat on the back for combining a montage of game styles and effectively creating a very solid and enjoyable game.

Gameplay
91

Surprisingly effective as an overall package and one of the most enjoyable games I have played this year.
Graphics
88
Strong character animation and a very effective open world. Minor popup on both consoles however.
Sound
95
Great metal tracks which will appeal to the rock based audience with a sense of humour.
Value
80
Single player is slightly short, but multiplayer helps to compensate.
Overall
89

A game which deserves more attention that we fear it may get.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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