A successful blend of multiple genres together in harmony.
Brutal Legend to me felt and continues to feel like a giant stew of varying genres with an added hint of heavy metal. It’s the game that Tim Shaefer has wanted to make his whole life, and with such an amazing idea, he’s one of the very few game developers that can pull it off. Pull it off he did. I wasn’t expecting Brutal Legend to catch me by surprise, quite the contrary actually. But with a great cast of interesting characters, a beautifully built open world, and fun gameplay make it stand out as one of the biggest surprises I’ve ever played.
The idea behind Brutal Legend is a world that is entirely based upon heavy metal and other music genres. The land you uncover in Eddie Rigg’s hilarious story is literally filled with landmarks and characters that signify music and how distinctive they are from one another. Eddie Rigg’s is a real-life roadie and uncovers this land totally by accident after a stage set falls on him resulting in his belt buckle to be covered in his own blood. Not realizing what he has done or where he is, Eddie wakes in the world of heavy metal and starts his journey he didn’t even know would exist. The world is being controlled by the Tainted Coil, and evil faction that enslaved the creatures of the land. With a help of some friends Eddie meets along the way, it’s your goal to take back the land and set everything straight.
If you play the first half of the game and nothing past it, you would believe the game is just an open-world action adventure, but in reality it’s not—Brutal Legend is a mixture of a bunch of different genres. You drive around in an open world, you hack and slash enemies to kill them, and you even command troops around like a real time strategy game. None of the gameplay styles work particularly brilliant, but they work well enough and come together pretty seamlessly. You take on missions like a Grand Theft Auto game, and from there the game throws various quests at you to complete, like racing demons, protecting large vehicles, commanding troops into battle, and others.
I felt that while I definitely had a lot of fun playing the game, a lot of the missions got repetitious. When you get right down to it, there’s only 4 or 5 varying missions you eventually do and some of them can feel a little tedious at times. Luckily most of the missions available to you are completely optional, though the Fire Tributes you earn from completing them will come in handy when you get to the tougher quests at the end of the game. You spend them by raising a Motor Forge found around the world, allowing you to buy upgrades to the Deuce (your car), buy different weapons like sword and guitar strings, and other moves.
The main genre Brutal Legend tries to be—and pretty well succeeds at—is a real time strategy game. Even though you finally get to these missions nearly half-way through the game, Eddie will grow demon wings to fly over the battles area to allow you to command your troops in an easier fashion. You earn fans from fan geysers by building merchandise booths over top of them, which then allows you to pump out troops from your stage. You can upgrade you stage which also costs fans, which nets you better allies to fight along with. The unique part of all of this—other than being music genre vs. other music genre—is that you can actually fly down to the battlefield and fight alongside your allies. This is a must considering some of the solos you gain during the adventure are almost mandatory to complete some of the later missions in the game.
The real time strategy elements of Brutal Legend don’t change the fact that RTS games simply do not work very well on consoles, but looking past the uneven nature of the game is easy when you consider how satisfying winning a stage battle can be. The story almost seems as if Double Fine wanted to use it as a lengthy tutorial for the multiplayer. The multiplayer in Brutal Legend is a one-on-one stage battle like seen in the campaign, and while I don’t think the multiplayer is terrible, I just think that there isn’t a compelling reason to play it since they’re not the greatest strength of the game as a whole.
Brutal Legend is brought to life in a really Disney-like feel with blocky and over-proportioned character models with outlandish facial animations. As a whole I felt that the visuals are almost that of a last generation Xbox game, but realizing the amount of depth of the game possesses makes it easy to look past. Technically the game wont blow you away; the frame rate is decent and the load times are small, but they’re nothing to wow at. Audio-wise the game features an amazing set-list of heavy metal including tracks by Motorhead, Motley Crue, Judas Priest, and Ozzy Osbourne. The characters also feature some pretty impressive voice work to boot. Jack Black does a great job as Eddie, while metal gods such as Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead, and Rob Halford do equally great jobs as supporting characters throughout the game.
Brutal Legend is a great mixture of varying genres that takes the heavy metal presentation to an entirely new level. The result is an action-packed romp that you’ll be hooked on until the game ends, and even beyond. While I definitely see how one could frown upon the way the game throws genres at you, I thought the way the game brings them all together into one funny, cohesive package is well thought out, and ultimately fun as hell. Brutal Legend is almost literally a heavy metal album cover come to life. With such a fun campaign with endless amounts of fun, I highly recommend it.