Brutal Legend review
Ambitious yet flawed legend
When you think about metal, you think about a bunch of dudes banging on their drums, randomly strumming their guitars, and screaming into the mic like dying hyenas. Although people have proved this ignorant stereotype wrong time and time again, who cares, ignorance for the win! Besides, that just means one less poser in the metal culture.. So here's a game that embelishes the culture - the music, and the positive stereotypes... I hate Metalocalypse because it glorifies the negative stereotypes associated with metal (that, and it's about as funny as Dane "MAYBE IF I YELL IT'LL BE FUNNY" Cook), whereas Brutal Legend brings out the fun loving side of metal! Grab a beer and enjoy!
Brutal Legend starts off with Eddie Riggs, the world's best roadie for the world's worst bands, wishing that he could go back to a time when metal was awesome. One night, during a freak accident with one of the props and electricity, Eddie sacrifices himself to save one of the dumbass tweens, and thanks to his belt buckle which is actually an amulet of the fire beast Ormageddon, he's transported to somewhere ripped right out of the stone ages. After some formalities, he learns of a plot by the Hair Metal army lead by Lionwhyte, who looks like a mash up of every hair metal band member at once... shit, he has so much hair, he can fly by flapping it! But yeah, Eddie has to stop him from reviving an evil monster god and has to take down the oppressive emperor known as Doviculus.
Well, okay, the actual story wasn't all that engrossing. There was one twist that seriously came out of left field, and it genuinely got me into the story a bit more, but really, it didn't do much afterwards. What did me in was the dialogue and characters. Holy shit, I wish games tried this more often - give all of the characters their own personalities with outrageously awesome and, at times, hilarious dialogue! It's really this what keeps you coming back for more, because the actual story - it's passable.
Brutal Legend is one of those games that goes for a lot in the gameplay department, but it ends up as well put together as the Xbox 360 - it's bound to break down somewhere along the line, but I'm getting ahead of myself here. At first - and you would've gotten this from the demo like I did - you'll be hacking and slashing away at enemies. It's fun as shit, but not exactly deep. Most of the time, you'll be hammering the X button as if it's a stubborn nail to swing your axe and kick ass. Despite the sheer simplicity... oh, you get to fire lightning out of your guitar as your ranged attack, but yeah, it's simple as crap, but guess what? It's *bleep*ing fun! I don't know why either - must just the simple fact that there's always things to kill, and killing things is always fun, no matter the simplicity of the system in which you use to do it. Man, God Of War 1 and 2 wished they could do this.
As you progress, you'll gain control of a group of minions, and even further along the line, you find different sorts and start to gain control of more, and with variety, comes more ways to overcome obstacles. Some are able to help you take down enemies while some have armor that'd make a turtle jealous. There's a definite variety in troops to keep you interested in them and to cover areas that Eddie can't quite do himself.
Then you hit the RTS segments, and by the end of the game, you'll be mercilessly butt*bleep*ed by how clunky things really are with this hackneyed *bleep*ed up cockbiting piece of shit thing. The RTS segments are way too hard for a newbie to figure out, and too hastily coded, cramped up, and generally shitty for other people to get the hang of - excuse me Mr Schaffer, but if the crappy menu has a lot of trouble letting me quickly assemble all of my troops to attack the enemy base and essentially *bleep* shit up, you know you screwed up. It's not as if I can highlight all of them, because you're not looking overhead - you're on the battlefield, fighting alongside your troops!
But god help us all if you actually try to help with fighting ground enemies! You'll be surrounded by millions and gangraped in seconds, guaranteed, and without a visible health bar, you're really paddling through shit creek... seriously, invisible health bars are only good for shooters, but for hack and slash games, its like trying to go through the hallway of your best mate's house in complete darkness – it's only a matter of time before you receive consequences, and you won't even know it. Oh, you'll resurrect, but you'll lose fans in the process, and you need fans in order to upgrade your base, towers and bring in more troops... yeah, let them do it. You're merely a third wheel when you try to fight with them instead of commanding them from the air.
Ohoho, and single player is just the tutorial level, because there's multiplayer to consider, and that has the RTS segments too! You and a mate can try your best to navigate through some clunky menus to kick each other asses. Make sure you've gotten lots out of the battles in single player – some of the nerds you might go up against know what they're doing!
Back to single player - When you're not fighting, you'll be driving around a big world. As per usual for a sandbox game, you'll be able to participate in some optional missions. They range from killing a bunch of enemies to hunting for specific enemies, and even to racing some dude, and.. that's about it. So there's not much in the way of variety, nor are they really much to talk about. The racing missions are kind of fun if you know where you're going, and they're more fun when you find some killer shortcuts to get some more of that mad ass cash to get more weapons, attacks and shit. The others seem cool at first, but get outrageously boring because that's pretty much all you're doing, and hunting can take its sweet ass time if you don't know the map like the back of your hand, but it's all for more of that moolah, which is totally worth it!
The graphics are pretty good. On the surface, it looks fantastic, with some nice texture work to make everything detailed and the colors are nice on the eyes. Unfortunately, there are a fair few blemishes out there – from SUDDENLY APPEARING rocks and pieces of grass and other shit on the overworld, to some lag here and there, and even some stutters during cutscenes, yeah, a little work is necessary here...
The music... seriously, what were you expecting, epic symphonies? Actually, that might be something you'll find... inside a mass of guitars and drums. Yes, the soundtrack consists of 100% heavy *bleep*ing metal! If you've heard an Iron Maiden or Judas Priest album, you'll have a good idea of what to expect... there will be some with extreme vocals (Cradle Of Filth, Dethklok and Emperor, among some others) and may turn some people away, though thankfully, it's of the more welcoming variety, and it's usually in the background of a mission or when you're cruising through the world. It's just freaking awesome for a metal fan, though if you're not into that kind of music, heh, there may be a chance of making your taste buds turn 180 degrees, but if not, well, it's still nice background music. But that's not all there is to the sound – there is also the voice acting, and it's pretty good. Jack Black does an excellent job of giving Eddie some charisma (but then again, this IS Jack Black we're talking about, charisma is the name of his game), and everyone else does a reasonable job of delivering their lines. Really, there are no problems here.
This is a tricky, tricky game to recommend... if you like hack and slash games, maybe you'll enjoy Brutal Legend for its sheer simplicity, because complicated stuff is nowhere to be found. If you like RTS games, you might be able to get the hang of things, but don't expect that to happen overnight or without busting some nuts. If you like sandbox games... yeah, I can see you not minding this game, but with Infamous and Red Faction Guerilla prowling game stores, ehh, I don't know... Shit, if you like metal, you'll end up getting this regardless of how it plays – whether or not it's a keeper is up for scrutiny!
Story: 3.5/5. Surely not a bad story by any means. The characters are easy to get into due to awesome tongue-in-cheek dialogue... I think the problem is just that the actual story was pretty "meh".
Gameplay: 3.5/5. The hack and slash part was good if a bit shallow compared to the competition. The squad commanding felt pretty cool. The RTS part was unquestionably clunky and plain shit. Sidequests are a bit on the drab side, too.
Controls: 4/5. Good hack and slash controls with easy to learn and easy to memorize combos. Tricky to get the hang of the command controls at first though, and the RTS segments, in this regard, can kiss my ass...
Graphics: 3.5/5. The graphics are pretty dang good... Just expect some object pop ups, framerate hiccups during combat, and lagging while driving around large portions of the overworld.
Sound: 5/5. The voice acting is excellent and suits the dialogue finely. The music consists of some of metal's biggest and best hits (except Metallica), though I'll understand if it's not for you.
Overall: 3.5/5. Brutal Legend is an ambitious game by an ambitious creator, but too much ambition and not enough effort can only go so far. Was fun while it lasted, though.