The universe of heavy metal is one which carries a lore rivaling that of any great science fiction or fantasy masterpiece. However, both of the latter genres have been explained and expanded to the point of exhaustion, while heavy metal’s lore remains much a mystery. Folks assemble in dim, dank venues to worship seemingly possessed musicians as they summon the melodies of Lucifer. Participants use their hands to flash cryptic gestures, their garments display dark symbols, and they thrash about one another like maniacs. All these conventions of the tradition metal scene have remained an enigma for years.
That is, until Gamer Limit laid their hands on Brutal Legend.
Double Fine, the developers of Brutal Legend, granted us a hands on preview of the true origins of heavy metal. The player is thrust into the role of Eddie Riggs, with mega star and confirmed metalliholic Jack Black voicing the rascally roadie. He’s thrust into an alternate world filled with twisted demons and motorized monstrosities, all of which look like they belong on an Iron Maiden album cover. The presentation of the game is incredibly varied, as bones crunch under the weight of a walking demonic altar, giant muscle car engines are suspended from the tall ceilings, and a smoldering groupie girl meets up with Eddie. Overall, the theme and presentation of the game is executed perfectly, and the game is fun and engrossing to watch.
As Eddie is transported to the mythological land of metal, he first encounters a group of red robed, demonic monks who are worshiping a very large battle axe. The monks, unsurprisingly, attack Eddie. Being forced to think quickly, the player must take up the axe and ironically turn it on its worshippers. Immediately evident is the simplicity of the controls. “Separator,” as the axe is called, has a normal axe attack and an “unstoppable” axe attack. Basically, the attack button is pressed in succession to chain quick axe swings, and held down to unleash a devastating ground slam. The frenzied, cleaving action results in body parts flying and blood spilling everywhere. This game is definitely brutal.
Soon after finding the sword, Eddie picks up his trusty guitar “Clementine,” only to discover that it has taken on some shocking attributes since making the leap to the metal realm. When Riggs shreds on the guitar, tesla bolts snake from the instrument and incapacitate his foes, making them more susceptible to axe attacks. The convenience and effectiveness of switching between the guitar and axe on the fly is immediately apparent. Stringing together long attacks is a painless, yet satisfying experience. The demo doesn’t reveal any other weapons save for a double team attack with the groupie chick, so hopefully several more tools of destruction will be available in the retail version.
After a trip atop a giant strider monstrosity down a gigantic slope of broken bones, Eddie finds his path blocked off. That’s when he finds a plethora of car parts conveniently located near him. Deftly assembling the automobile components, he’s soon in possession of a black muscle care complete with flame decals on the side. “Deuce,” as the car is called, aids Eddie in breaking down the gate. He then goes on to race across a crumbling bridge and face off against a giant spine worm boss. The boss fight is entertaining and funny, if not a little too simple. Its vulnerability is apparent within half about fifteen seconds.
After the driving segments Eddie moves into an open world area, which looks to be the area he must navigate between objectives in the story line. Rolling green hills, enemies aplenty, and a plethora of unique locations will keep players plodding around the plains for a healthy chunk of time. The demo then comes to a close after entering the “Motor Forge,” which looks to be a shop and hub world for the rockin’ roadie. This is also where he meets the “God of Metal.”
Overall, Brutal Legend is an incredibly approachable and light hearted game, save fore the gratuitous violence. Tim Schafer’s unique sense of humor and knack for style shines through in every aspect of the game, except for gameplay. Though the gameplay is consistent and fun, there are some worries that the formula may become stale later on in the game. However, if the rest of the game sticks to the “something new every ten minutes” formula, Brutal Legend could very well come out to be one of the best games of the year.
For those who love to laugh and rock out to metal, there is plenty to love here. For those who thrive on intense action games with in depth combat mechanics, this may be a lackluster title. Either way, Brutal Legend is a unique game that you simply have to see for yourself come Rocktober 13th on he PS3 and 360 (pending Activision lawsuit.interference).