Game Review: Brütal Legend

Courtesy Double Fine
What isn’t awesome about this artwork? NOTHING THAT’S WHAT.

I, like Yahtzee, love Tim Schafer. We’ve taken turns talking about how great he is. I grew up on games like Day of the Tentacle and I adored Full Throttle. Psychonauts quickly grew on me (after my fingers healed up) and when Tim finally returned with Brütal Legend, I was very excited. Having played the game, I still think he’s a genius. The game, on the other hand, I’m a bit less passionate about, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have fun playing it.

Eddie Riggs is a roadie. He’s not a front man or a guitarist or anything of the sort. I mean, sure, the man can wail on an ax with the best of them and knows good music when he hears it – and cringes when he hears bad music – but he’s a roadie. He stays in the wings and helps a band look good. He can fix, build and do just about anything, but he never wanted to be in the spotlight. Until a spotlight fell on him, that is. Several spotlights, in fact, and a whole lot of set design. His near-death experience took him to another world instead of a hospital, a world of pure heavy metal imperiled the forces of darkness and the onslaught of screechy hair metal. It’s Eddie’s job to take command of the resistance and lead them to victory. The final goal of that victory, to liberate the world or blow it to smithereens, is kinda murky. Prophecies are like that.

Stuff I Didn’t Like

Courtesy Double Fine
“C’mon. Just three little words. Say it. ‘Nickelback sucks.'”

  • Unlabeled maps make the baby Jesus fume with rage. I’m not asking you to tell me exactly where everything is if exploration is one of your selling points, and I do love to explore. No – just tell me where things are after I find them. When I pass something, unlock a new area or catch sight of a landmark, jot that down on the map. It shouldn’t be that hard. Why am I only seeing Metal Forges and sidequests on the map when I bring it up? How does that help me?
  • Likewise the in-game tutorials aren’t terribly informative. I had no idea how to unlock the various draconic gargoyle statue things littered around the landscape until I looked it up on a fan site. Nobody in the game told me what they were for or how to free them, just that I had to. And I still don’t know how to switch around the faces on Mount Rockmore.
  • A lot has been said about the game’s RTS gameplay. As someone who’s played a variety of RTS games, from the original Command & Conquer to StarCraft, I had a few quibbles about it myself. The inability to see the battleground from above felt like a major hindrance, selecting individual units took longer than I felt comfortable with since most of the enemy was running up to pound my face into the nearest hard surface, and blending the third-person adventure controls with RTS controls felt hasty in its construction and shifting gears from beating ass to issuing commands broke the flow of combat somewhat. I don’t object to the existence of RTS in this game – just its execution.

Stuff I Liked

Courtesy Double Fine
“Dig the wheels, baby? I got ’em from this crazy mumbling dude in a dress.”

  • That said, I love the idea of being with my troops during the battle. When I first heard General Lionwhyte wailing away as he floated there on his hair-wings, my first thought was to run over to him and shut his pasty whiny ass up. And that’s exactly what I did! No need to sortie other troops, I just zipped over and started unloading on him.
  • The art direction of the world is pretty cool. It feels like the studio over at Double Fine is wallpapered with old Queensryche and Megadeth albums and that’s what the artists used to make this world feel awesome.
  • The riffs you learn to summon your car, raise forges and do other things is reminiscent of color-matching in Rock Band and are satisfying to pull off, especially in the middle of a stage battle.
  • I like Jack Black and I don’t care who knows it.
  • Switching between the melee and ‘magic’ attacks you have is very smooth, and it makes combat more interesting.
  • I like the characters. They’re not overly deep and complicated, but they’re cool and the voice acting is nicely done, which leads me to…

Stuff I Loved

Courtesy Double Fine
“It’s a fucking robe, you fucking prat!!”

  • Ozzy, Lemmy, Lita and Rob Halford. ‘Nuff said.
  • Oh, you want more? The soundtrack will kick your ass. It is awesome. I loved zipping around the landscape in the Druid Plow rocking out to metal. Dropping the Plow into the middle of a fight and kicking on a different tune to pump you up more helps get through some of the tedious bits of the RTS engine. It did for me, at least.
  • The bit at the beginning where you can choose the amount of swearing & gore makes me laugh every time. It would only be better if the censoring was in the style of Metalocalypse, laying guitar stings over the curses.

Bottom Line: Brütal Legend is one for metal fans and fans of Tim Schafer. Hardcore RTS fans, people expecting a sandbox game mixed with God of War or folks who can’t stand Jack Black aren’t going to enjoy this. I did, though. Rent it if you like badass music and a unique gameplay & story experience, buy it if you like the game after playing it.

And for the record, I was digging on the character of Lita more than Ophelia.

Courtesy Double Fine

I’m not entirely sure why. Just something about her.

1 Comment

  1. What???? You like Lita more?

    That’s it. We can’t be friends anymore. Kindly take your misconceptions and go home.

    I loved this game – loved it, but it was certainly not without its flaws and I think you highlighted all of them. I am right there with you; I have no idea how to work Mount Rockmore either.

    Were you playing on XBox or PS3? I found switching between magic and melee to be a little clumsy on the PS3 side of things.

    Also, Kyle Gass’ cameo made it all worthwhile. Full circle, motherfucker. Full circle. I can’t wait for the next installment.

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