Activision can't kill the metal.
If you've only seen trailers, official gameplay video or even played the demo of Brütal Legend you might think you know exactly how it plays, but as you experience the game it shows itself as a range of gameplay elements rolled into one. Combined with engaging characters voiced by celebrities of metal, excellent writing and a hard hitting soundtrack this combines into an excellent package, provided you like all the components.
There are lots of funny conversations and one-liners throughout the entirety of the game. The dialogue is very well written and delivered, but some of the dialogue of the Kill Master character isn't spoken clearly. Backing the game is a massive metal soundtrack which crosses many sub-genres. You can also purchase a music player for your vehicle to listen, skip or rewind the music at your leisure. The music gets heavier particularly close the end of the story, and works well to bring importance to the legend.
The gameplay is quite a mixed bag. It begins as a hack & slash with combos and uses a traditional targeting system. The Deuce (which Eddie calls the Druid Plow) is Eddie's vehicle which is also used in combat. It's very versatile and can be navigated with ease through most of the game world. As the player progresses through the story they will be introduced to the real-time strategy portion of the game. This is delivered in a unique style, with a heavy metal concert stage set representing your base and merchandise booths acting as a gatherer of resources. Radial menus are used to create and upgrade your team and music stage, and the D-pad to command your troop's movement. The game is really easy until it comes to the RTS gameplay about 1-2 hours in the campaign. This aspect is brought on quite quickly so you'll probably die several times before figuring out what to do and how to go about it.
Visually, this highly stylised world has a strong metal influence in every aspect pushed to the maximum, with inspiration drawn from classic metal album covers. Character animation and design is superb, and new characters and enemies that are introducted during the story are new and refreshing. Even the game's menu is something rarely seen in videogames and really shows the developer's dedication and attention to detail.
The land of Brütal Legend outside of primary and secondary missions is huge. Everywhere you've been before is accessible in one huge world with no loading screens. Within it you can interact with animals by riding them, killing them or using them as weapons. You can defeat random enemies wandering around or locate the hundreds of serpent statues, landmark viewers and more to further complete the game. As you progress through the game you'll collect "Fire Tributes" which are used as currency in MotorForges found throughout the land, where you can upgrade your axe, guitar and vehicle.
Brütal Legend's story lasts around five hours and while there are plenty of side missions to further complete and extend the life of the game they are largely identical to each other, consisting of ambushing enemies, defending points and racing. This isn't the only way to get bang for your buck though because Brütal Legend's multiplayer is the complete real-time strategy aspect of the game with everything unlocked. It can be played via online matchmaking, online private match or with the game AI on any difficulty. You have a choice of three different factions, all with unique character models, personalities, attacks, and even on-stage music. It is very easy to get used to as there isn't too much to worry about on the battlefield, but an encouraged player could find depth in the multiplayer.
If you love heavy metal you absolutely must at least see and hear Brütal Legend in person. It's a visually amazing feat and obviously a lot of thought and love was put into it. It's hard to describe the entirety of the gameplay of Brütal Legend and may explain why promotional material doesn't give the full picture. While it does feature a successful combination of genres, any one of them may not interest the player. If you can wrap your head around an action adventure RTS game based on heavy metal, then you must play this game.