Brütal Disappointment

 Last night, I finished Brütal Legend, a game I got last Tuesday. After witnessing all of the tremendous amount of hype surrounding Tim Schafer's heavy metal epic, I was anxious to play through the campaign as superstar roadie Eddie Riggs. Sadly, after an hour or so into the main storyline, my anxiety turned into frustration and disappointment.

As I mentioned, the game starts off with a bang. In fact, if you've played the demo, you know exactly how the game starts off. The first couple of missions after that are pretty cool, as you'll go around fighting off General Lionwhyte's army, all the while recruiting headbangers and others to join your own army, known as Ironheade. The story moves along at a brisk and steady pace until you get to fight Lionwhyte himself. Shortly after that, it slows down to a crawl while you partake in strung-out real-time strategy battles against the Drowned Doom and, finally, Doviculus' army. Although the story is quite good, I felt it was sacrificed along the way for the game's shady gameplay, which seems quite uncharacteristic of Tim Schafer.

Let's talk about that gameplay aspect for a moment. Brütal Legend implements real-time strategy elements, action elements, sandbox elements, role-playing game elements, racing elements and fighting elements, but never quite succeeds at either one of those. It's good to have ambition, but sometimes it's also good to know your limits. The side missions are a total bore and very repetitive. However, I found myself completing each and every one of them (except for the hunting ones) so I could accumulate enough Fire Tributes to upgrade my stuff. Those upgrades would become useless once the RTS gameplay kicked in, which made the side missions seem like a waste of time in the end.

Thankfully, that's not all Brütal Legend has to offer. The game does a great job in paying its respects to heavy metal, as it features a solid soundtrack with over 100 metal songs, and the metal infused world of Bladehenge, where monuments were erected in tribute to the Gods of Metal. There's also the superb cast of characters, including Jack Black as the main protagonist, a surprisingly fluent Ozzy as the Guardian of Metal, Lemmy Kilmister as the Kill Master, Rob Halford as General Lionwhyte and the marvelous Tim Curry as Doviculus.

In the end, however, I am brutally disappointed in Brütal Legend. For a game designed by a man whom I consider to be one of the greatest of all time, it hits somewhat of a sour note. The world, story and characters are quite awesome, but they are overshadowed by bad and indecisive gameplay. I haven't touched the multiplayer aspect, and I don't think I ever will. I feel like I've played enough of it in the campaign. Oh well, better luck next time, Tim.
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Posted by DBoy

 Last night, I finished Brütal Legend, a game I got last Tuesday. After witnessing all of the tremendous amount of hype surrounding Tim Schafer's heavy metal epic, I was anxious to play through the campaign as superstar roadie Eddie Riggs. Sadly, after an hour or so into the main storyline, my anxiety turned into frustration and disappointment.

As I mentioned, the game starts off with a bang. In fact, if you've played the demo, you know exactly how the game starts off. The first couple of missions after that are pretty cool, as you'll go around fighting off General Lionwhyte's army, all the while recruiting headbangers and others to join your own army, known as Ironheade. The story moves along at a brisk and steady pace until you get to fight Lionwhyte himself. Shortly after that, it slows down to a crawl while you partake in strung-out real-time strategy battles against the Drowned Doom and, finally, Doviculus' army. Although the story is quite good, I felt it was sacrificed along the way for the game's shady gameplay, which seems quite uncharacteristic of Tim Schafer.

Let's talk about that gameplay aspect for a moment. Brütal Legend implements real-time strategy elements, action elements, sandbox elements, role-playing game elements, racing elements and fighting elements, but never quite succeeds at either one of those. It's good to have ambition, but sometimes it's also good to know your limits. The side missions are a total bore and very repetitive. However, I found myself completing each and every one of them (except for the hunting ones) so I could accumulate enough Fire Tributes to upgrade my stuff. Those upgrades would become useless once the RTS gameplay kicked in, which made the side missions seem like a waste of time in the end.

Thankfully, that's not all Brütal Legend has to offer. The game does a great job in paying its respects to heavy metal, as it features a solid soundtrack with over 100 metal songs, and the metal infused world of Bladehenge, where monuments were erected in tribute to the Gods of Metal. There's also the superb cast of characters, including Jack Black as the main protagonist, a surprisingly fluent Ozzy as the Guardian of Metal, Lemmy Kilmister as the Kill Master, Rob Halford as General Lionwhyte and the marvelous Tim Curry as Doviculus.

In the end, however, I am brutally disappointed in Brütal Legend. For a game designed by a man whom I consider to be one of the greatest of all time, it hits somewhat of a sour note. The world, story and characters are quite awesome, but they are overshadowed by bad and indecisive gameplay. I haven't touched the multiplayer aspect, and I don't think I ever will. I feel like I've played enough of it in the campaign. Oh well, better luck next time, Tim.
Posted by phlegms

Yeah I wont be buying this game.
The aesthetic and premise look awesome and all that, but I don't want to have to sit through 10 or so hours of muddled game-play just to see a few heavy metal jokes I most likely wont get..

Posted by Babble
@DBoy:  
 
Why would the upgrades you buy be useless when the game introduces RTS elements?
Posted by Kouerson

Basically, after beating this game on Brutal in about 7 hours (including doing most of the sidequests) all I have to say about it is - Maybe next time Tim Schafer, maybe next time.

Posted by Djstyles92

i thought the game was really good and i thought the gameplay, especially the rts, was quite good

Posted by PeasForFees
@Kouerson said:
"Maybe next time Tim Schafer, maybe next time. "
Edited by TooWalrus

I am... almost done with it I think, and I'm loving every minute of it. Maybe it's because I went in expecting RTS elements, and wasn't disappointed when they were forced on me. I haven't gone and done a lot of the side missions (mainly because the upgrades aren't worth the time at the moment) but they aren't forced on you.

Edited by luce

i was hoping this game would be the next "Legend of Zelda"ish game i'd play since Okami but i guess not..
 
5 hours with crappy side quests and wannabe RTS multiplayer for $60 no thank you

Posted by Babble
@luce said:
" i was hoping this game would be the next "Legend of Zelda"ish game i'd play since Okami but i guess not..  5 hours with crappy side quests and wannabe RTS multiplayer no thank you "
Haha ok, good to see you have an open mind about things.
Edited by Hitchenson

Eh, I really liked the RTS elements of the game. Seriously, the way people are talking about them it's like they thought the whole game was an hack 'n' slash. 

Posted by TheMustacheHero

So.. they spent too much time advertising this than actually making the game work?

Posted by Kouerson

Pretty much.

Posted by AjayRaz

kinda strange that Psychonauts wasn't very popular but was an incredible game, but Brutal Legend has gotten alot of advertising and hype, but it's a disappointment 
 
hmmm...    

Posted by PDC_Emulator

I guess buying Jack Black does not mean buying success...

Posted by MB
@PDC_Emulator said:
" I guess buying Jack Black does not mean buying success... "
It did three years ago.
Moderator Online
Posted by Kouerson

Jack Black never equaled success.

Edited by RenegadeSaint

It certainly seems that this is a divisive game, but I'm still going to give it a shot if I can pick it up for a decent price.

Posted by Tru3_Blu3

Timmy needs to stick with Adventure games.

Posted by DBoy
@Babble: Because the upgrades you buy are for Eddie or the Druid Plow and don't have anything to do with the troops you command around during the RTS parts.
 
@Hitchenson: The demo and most of the gameplay videos I saw online are about hack n' slash, while the multiplayer videos are about the RTS elements... I guess that's why people like me got the wrong impression.
Posted by Babble
@DBoy said:
" @Babble: Because the upgrades you buy are for Eddie or the Druid Plow and don't have anything to do with the troops you command around during the RTS parts.
 
@Hitchenson: The demo and most of the gameplay videos I saw online are about hack n' slash, while the multiplayer videos are about the RTS elements... I guess that's why people like me got the wrong impression. "
I guess, but if you aren't down fighting with your army during RTS sections then you aren't playing it as it was intended.
Posted by DBoy
@Babble: Of course I was helping my troops in battle, but I wasn't there all the time and could have gone without most of the upgrades for the duration.
Posted by Everyones_A_Critic

What's with all the hate against Jack Black? I've heard he does a fine job in the game.

Posted by PeasForFees
@Everyones_A_Critic said:
"

What's with all the hate against Jack Black? I've heard he does a fine job in the game.

"
In the game he is fine, just out of it, he is crap
Posted by Metric_Outlaw
@DBoy said:
" @Babble: Because the upgrades you buy are for Eddie or the Druid Plow and don't have anything to do with the troops you command around during the RTS parts.
 
That's why Tim continually said it wasn't an RTS. Its a Real Time Action Game. The point of the combat is not for you to be ordering guys like crazy. It wasn't designed that way. The point is to give basic commands like attack and defend while you fight right next to them.
Posted by Everyones_A_Critic
@PeasForFees said:
" @Everyones_A_Critic said:
"

What's with all the hate against Jack Black? I've heard he does a fine job in the game.

"
In the game he is fine, just out of it, he is crap "
Gotcha.
Posted by Metric_Outlaw
@Everyones_A_Critic said:
"

What's with all the hate against Jack Black? I've heard he does a fine job in the game.

"
Yeah I agree. Its gets really annoying hearing how people will never buy the game because he's in it. Its not all the proceeds go to killing puppies or funding Al Quida.
Posted by evildeadron

im actually enjoying the game quite a bit, i knew what it was going in and i love the art style, the writing and the music, having tons of fun exploring the world tracking down statues and other collectibles
Posted by John1912
@phlegms said:
"Yeah I wont be buying this game. The aesthetic and premise look awesome and all that, but I don't want to have to sit through 10 or so hours of muddled game-play just to see a few heavy metal jokes I most likely wont get.. "

You wouldnt have to.  I dont think it too me more then 4-5 hours to beat, hell maybe less.  i did almost no side missions >.>
Online
Posted by Turambar
@TimAllen624:  
Online
Posted by septim

As soon as it becomes a full blown "RTS" the gameplay just falls apart. Its just way too clunky, slow, and frustrating to be a game I would recommend to anyone.
 
This fucking fog level is a total piece of shit. I feel like I'm being fucked over by the controls. I'm being attacked in a 3 different places and flying is way too slow and having to be next to troops is completely asinine in a game like this.
 
Glad I rented it.

Posted by Metric_Outlaw
@Turambar: Haha well played sir.
Posted by DBoy
@septim said:
" As soon as it becomes a full blown "RTS" the gameplay just falls apart. Its just way too clunky, slow, and frustrating to be a game I would recommend to anyone.  This fucking fog level is a total piece of shit. I feel like I'm being fucked over by the controls. I'm being attacked in a 3 different places and flying is way too slow and having to be next to troops is completely asinine in a game like this.  Glad I rented it. "
Amen to that sir, Amen.
Posted by Darro

Yeah I knew Tim Curry was in the game somewhere, just didn't know who he did.  Thought it was Lionwhyte actually but then realised it was Rob Halford from Judas Priest.
 
You know how I feel about the game.  I am quite disappointed with it also but the only part I really can't stand are the stage battles.  I don't mind anything else even if they are monotonous but they are tolerable.  I am on the final mission now against Doviculus and its annoyingly hard.  Take down one head and then he brings out the big guns and I get ravaged.
 
Looking forward to playing Smackdown this week and judging by the IGN review, it looks set to be a good edition.  Going to start on Uncharted 2 myself once I am done with BL, which should be sometime today.

Posted by Jerr

Bah, I'm disappointed there's more people dissing the game then people promoting it, there seems to be about equal numbers of people liking and disliking it.

Edited by Delta_Ass

They should just come out with a patch that makes all the RTS battles optional sidequests.

Posted by bwooduhs

I just finished it and was starting to feel a bit down on it because i didn't like the RTS gameplay much, but my love has been reinvigorated through exploring the world doing side quests and stuff.

Posted by CharlieTuna

Well I've played past the killmaster bit and I was hoping that the game would pick up, reading what you've written about it kinda makes me not want to bother playing it at all. If that's the highlight I might as well skip the rest and trade it in for borderlands.
 
I honestly don't even think the story is any good either which is what surprised me the most, I just finished Uncharted 2 before playing it and it's like night and day here.
 
Biggest disappointment in a LONG WHILE.

Posted by Soap
@phlegms said:
"Yeah I wont be buying this game. The aesthetic and premise look awesome and all that, but I don't want to have to sit through 10 or so hours of muddled game-play just to see a few heavy metal jokes I most likely wont get.. "

10? You'd be lucky to get 6...
Edited by Meltac
Posted by Opuelas
@Delta_Ass said:
" They should just come out with a patch that makes all the RTS battles optional sidequests. "
I'm going out on a limb and labeling that as a terrible idea. 
 
It's pretty shocking how the Giant Bomb community seems about 70% full of people who don't like the rather free-flowing RTS elements in this game or refuse to try the game because they only care if blowing through the campaign will take 20+ hours.
 
I honestly haven't enjoyed a new game this much since Batman: AA, and before that was Fallout 3. Towards the end I was actually leaving the sidequests behind because I enjoyed the stage battles so much--I wish you could upgrade all of your units and not just the three basics though. 
 
Also, I'm confused why so many people are having a hard time with the stage battles...it makes me think you're playing the game wrong. Kind of like how Tim Schafer rudely claimed in that press comment, you need to stop trying to RTS direct to win. I didn't lose one stage battle the entire way through, though the first skirmish with the drowning dead was pretty tough and they were almost at my stage before the end.
 
If I had to give some advice on making the stage battles easier in more common vernacular, think of the RTS portions of the game as your units doing all of the grunt defense and offense duties, while you personally hack and slash all of the micro management. Oh, the enemy has a couple vehicles and ranged coming up on this skirmish I'm in, what do I do? If you're pretty skilled at the melee combat you can just wade in and stall them (maybe even kill them outright), but other options include flying up behind them and summoning some beasts to intercept, or playing your Zeppelin solo in their path so the burning wreckage comes crashing down on them as they advance.
 
Anyways, I'm just here to say I really like the game, and the stage battles, not to criticize other peoples' tastes or how they choose to play the game. 12 hours in for one play through, and I haven't even touched multiplayer yet.
 
I do agree with the naysayers that some of the sidequests, like the ambush ones and the races, are pretty repetitive. Ambush cutscenes are so damn irritating and poorly done, and the races are just too easy =P.
Posted by Chokobo
@septim said:
" As soon as it becomes a full blown "RTS" the gameplay just falls apart. Its just way too clunky, slow, and frustrating to be a game I would recommend to anyone.  This fucking fog level is a total piece of shit. I feel like I'm being fucked over by the controls. I'm being attacked in a 3 different places and flying is way too slow and having to be next to troops is completely asinine in a game like this.  Glad I rented it. "
The game doesn't tell you ever, but by freeing the statues with the ball gags in their mouths  by targeting and using pyro (hold X) you get upgrades and flight speed is one of those upgrades.  I didn't know how to free them until my second playthrough so I don't blame you for not knowing.
Posted by Opuelas
@Chokobo said:
" @septim said:
" As soon as it becomes a full blown "RTS" the gameplay just falls apart. Its just way too clunky, slow, and frustrating to be a game I would recommend to anyone.  This fucking fog level is a total piece of shit. I feel like I'm being fucked over by the controls. I'm being attacked in a 3 different places and flying is way too slow and having to be next to troops is completely asinine in a game like this.  Glad I rented it. "
The game doesn't tell you ever, but by freeing the statues with the ball gags in their mouths  by targeting and using pyro (hold X) you get upgrades and flight speed is one of those upgrades.  I didn't know how to free them until my second playthrough so I don't blame you for not knowing. "
Same for me actually--I had assumed I needed a specific solo to free the dragons, but turns out it's easy...wish that had been part of the tutorial. Same thing with the legends.
Posted by DBoy
@Opuelas said:
" @Delta_Ass said:
" They should just come out with a patch that makes all the RTS battles optional sidequests. "
I'm going out on a limb and labeling that as a terrible idea.   It's pretty shocking how the Giant Bomb community seems about 70% full of people who don't like the rather free-flowing RTS elements in this game or refuse to try the game because they only care if blowing through the campaign will take 20+ hours.  I honestly haven't enjoyed a new game this much since Batman: AA, and before that was Fallout 3. Towards the end I was actually leaving the sidequests behind because I enjoyed the stage battles so much--I wish you could upgrade all of your units and not just the three basics though.   Also, I'm confused why so many people are having a hard time with the stage battles...it makes me think you're playing the game wrong. Kind of like how Tim Schafer rudely claimed in that press comment, you need to stop trying to RTS direct to win. I didn't lose one stage battle the entire way through, though the first skirmish with the drowning dead was pretty tough and they were almost at my stage before the end.  If I had to give some advice on making the stage battles easier in more common vernacular, think of the RTS portions of the game as your units doing all of the grunt defense and offense duties, while you personally hack and slash all of the micro management. Oh, the enemy has a couple vehicles and ranged coming up on this skirmish I'm in, what do I do? If you're pretty skilled at the melee combat you can just wade in and stall them (maybe even kill them outright), but other options include flying up behind them and summoning some beasts to intercept, or playing your Zeppelin solo in their path so the burning wreckage comes crashing down on them as they advance.  Anyways, I'm just here to say I really like the game, and the stage battles, not to criticize other peoples' tastes or how they choose to play the game. 12 hours in for one play through, and I haven't even touched multiplayer yet.  I do agree with the naysayers that some of the sidequests, like the ambush ones and the races, are pretty repetitive. Ambush cutscenes are so damn irritating and poorly done, and the races are just too easy =P. "
Very well written. By writing my blog, I didn't intend for everybody in the free world to hate the game or dismiss it completely. Everybody's entitled to their own opinion on the game, and what you have written here was very well said.
 
I actually rather enjoyed the first part of it. Freeing the headbangers had to be my favorite thing to do the entire duration of the game. The RTS elements bothered me, because I found them a bit difficult (even though I was playing on Easy... heh) and didn't really have the patience to go through with them.
Posted by TheHBK

I will say Tim Schaefer can sure as hell write a story and characters and humor into a game.  But man, this is not enough to make an amazing game, the gameplay has to be there to match perfectly.  Uncharted 2 shows how this can be done.  But Burtal Legend.  This is just the perfect way to showcase why he has not had one great selling hit.  People need to stop giving him the benefit of the doubt just because he is funny.  This is the kind of thing that leads to Jack Black getting more movie roles even though he is not funny.

Posted by bhhawks78

I LOVE the atmosphere and characters but I thought the gameplay wasn't "ok" or "passable" I honestly think the gameplay is blatantly god awful and those arguing otherwise are letting their metal/Schaffer love and Activision hate cloud their judgement.  The driving is ok, the hack and slash is bad, and the RTS is AWFUL.

Posted by AnimalFather

the game is 5h long and if anybody mentions the crappy sidequests i will pee on their head

Posted by DBoy
@AnimalFather said:
" the game is 5h long and if anybody mentions the crappy sidequests i will pee on their head "
That's both unclear and disturbing all at once.
Posted by Yukoei

Looks like the game is a solid rent though.

Posted by VisariLoyalist

Well, I agree with you that it's not as amazing as the tim schafer name would have you believe but it's still a pretty awesome game when compared to most things that get put out, just stop comparing it to the likes of uncharted for a second and you'll understand why it's an awesome game.

Posted by DBoy
@VisariLoyalist said:
" Well, I agree with you that it's not as amazing as the tim schafer name would have you believe but it's still a pretty awesome game when compared to most things that get put out, just stop comparing it to the likes of uncharted for a second and you'll understand why it's an awesome game. "
I hadn't even played Uncharted 2 yet when I wrote this, so I wasn't comparing it to anything.
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