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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.