I will admit it: I am a Tim Schafer fan. I loved the Monkey Island series, and Psychonauts is a personal favorite of mine. Brütal Legend contains plenty of the classic “Schaferisms” and embraces what makes the game great: It’s funny and violent. Brütal Legend is truly one of a kind. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll rock and you’ll roll. Most of all, you’ll be entertained ... if only for a few hours.
The main hero of Brütal Legend is Eddie Riggs. Eddie, voiced by Jack Black, is a roadie working for the heavy metal band Kabbage Boy. While the band sings their newest tween hit song, Girlfriend, Eddie is crushed by a falling portion of the stage, and his blood fills the mouth of a beast on his belt buckle. This event causes everyone present to be murdered, while Eddie finds himself in a land of metal and death. So, basically, things get very awesome very quickly.
Playing as Eddie, you are equipped with an (actual) axe, The Separator, as well as a (musical) axe, Clementine. One of these lops off heads, and the other summons fireballs and lightning. You also have the use of Eddie’s car, The Deuce (aka The Druid Plow), which allows for quick travel and vehicular homicide. The Separator is mostly used for the brief action parts of the game and for dispatching weaker enemies. Clementine, on the other hand, is far more useful. Through the use of its button-pressed melodies, you can drop The Deuce from the sky, empower your allies and melt off the faces of your enemies with an epic guitar solo.
In case the last two paragraphs weren’t clear enough, this game is ridiculous. The game also picks up its metal theme and runs to the hills with it. As you drive around in The Deuce, the radio plays the game’s soundtrack, consisting of a plethora of metal songs. I found myself driving around just to listen to the songs, as the soundtrack is extensive enough that you won’t listen to the same song repeatedly. Unfortunately, you have to actually find the songs, hidden all over the map in the form of Buried Metal that must be raised with Clementine. Still, the set list is astounding, and I must say I have never seen a more awesome usage of Through the Fire and the Flames.
I’ll admit that I have been delaying discussing the gameplay of Brütal Legend. This is because it is difficult to say exactly what kind of game it is. Summed up, I would say it is a musical action real-time driving adventure sandbox strategy game. You’ll drive The Deuce around the open world, in racing sidequests and over enemies. Most of the non-boss parts of the game involve driving in some form, usually escort missions. The world itself follows the sandbox model, with collectibles distributed all over the place. You also will use The Separator to fight enemies in the form of basic button mashing.
The main bulk of Brütal Legend’s gameplay involves real-time strategy battles. Eddie is the leader of the rebellion group/awesome metal band Ironheadë. The members of Ironheadë consist of infantry, ranged units, medics, vehicles, siege weapons, etc. The mechanics at work here are very simplistic, and strategy isn’t actually required. Even on the hardest difficulty, all you’ll really need to do is build a humongous army and bulldoze your way across the land. You can tell individual units to go to specific places, but due to the limited number of buttons on a console controller, accomplishing this is awkward at best. Despite my gripes, these Battles of the Bands are fun and may even challenge you to boot. Eddie proves himself useful in these battles by using guitar solos and teamwork attacks, such as forming a mosh pit or firing a vehicle’s noticeably big guns. While you’ll only play as Ironheadë in the story, you’ll be able to use the other two enemy factions in the story mode in multiplayer (which is composed entirely of RTS battles).
What truly makes Brütal Legend unique is its rocktacular style. The art style is a treat to the eyeballs and will be familiar to any follower of Tim Schafer. Even the minor characters have their own charm, and the game’s voice cast makes this game ooze personality. Jack Black nails his lines as Eddie Riggs and gives the character the unbridled enthusiasm that only he can deliver. Other highlights include Ozzy Osbourne’s witty dialogue as The Guardian of Metal and Lemmy Kilmister’s portrayal of the Killmaster. Oh, and of course, the music will blow your mind.
I like this game. The strange thing is that the part I like most isn’t the actual game, but the presentation of it. The gameplay is a jack of all trades and master of none. The side missions can get downright repetitive and boring. The story is great, but it takes a tragic turn for the second half, and the cartoony character design makes this attempt at convincing the player to care fall flat on its face. Still, you will be entertained from start to finish. However, despite how much I enjoyed this game, I would strongly recommend a rental if you dislike RTS games. The story can be completed in roughly six hours if you ignore the sidequests, and the multiplayer function is entirely an RTS affair. If strategy games are not your bag, I cannot see this game being worth your hard-earned dollars.