by Keaton Arksey, reviewed on
Power of Metal
Metal is a wonderful thing. Anybody who has ever heard Black Sabbath or Motorhead can attest to that fact. So too can Tim Schafer, who has worked on some of the greatest games of all time from Secret of Monkey Island and Grim Fandango to Psychonauts. So the combination of one of the best developers in the world, Double Fine, and the power of metal is sure to be one of the funniest, most grotesque and all around awesome games to come out this year.
Brütal Legend is the story of Eddie Riggs, a roadie for an emo/pop band Kabbage Boy. The band's tween demographic makes it hard for anything slightly metal to come from them. During a show, one of the members of Kabbage Boy climbs up on Eddie's set and falls. Eddie catches him, but is subsequently crushed by the falling wreckage. Some of Eddie's blood falls into his belt buckle and he is transported to a different time where demons rule the world and everything is about metal. Eddie finds an axe – which he uses to decapitate some demons – and his electric guitar. The power of metal is transferred to the guitar, and can be used to electrocute enemies and even set them on fire.
Humanity is being suppressed by demons, and has split into factions. After slaying some demons Eddie meets Ophellia, warrior chick and Eddie's love interest, Lars Halford, leader of the resistance, and Lita Halford, Lars' sister. On the other side of humanity is General Lionwhyte, an 80's glam rocker who can fly in the air with wings made from his hair and who uses his voice as a weapon. Lionwhyte has sold out to the demons, enslaving many humans to work in his mines while he enjoys the life of luxury. Eddie and the human resistance must build an army, defeat General Lionwhyte and eventually the demons themselves.
The first part of Brütal Legend is action oriented. Eddie uses his axe and guitar to defeat enemies, enroll allies and kill bosses. He also builds the Deuce, a hot rod that allows him to travel faster and run over any who stand in his way. You eventually learn how to control your allies, giving simple commands like move over there, follow me, and stay here. This is the basis for what is to come.
While primarily an action game, there are also Real Time Strategy elements. You have various units that you recruit in the story, all with their own purpose. Headbangers, the first units available to you, are muscle bound rockers with enormous necks who use their heads to bash things. These are your general purpose units. Then you have Razor Girls, women who carry ranged weapons. During battles, Eddie is fully controllable, which keeps Brütal Legend from being just another RTS game. You can summon the Deuce to wreak havoc, attack enemies with your axe, and double team with units with the Y button. Every unit has a unique double team. For example, double teaming with the Metal Beasts, jungle cats you recruit later on in the game, has Eddie riding them and being able to unleash fiery death from the cat's mouth.
Located throughout the battle grounds are fan geysers, where you can build a merchandise booth for resources (in Brütal Legend resources are called fans) with a guitar solo. Of course, your enemy can also build merch booths at fan geysers, which must be destroyed by your units, not by yourself. Trying to attack an opponent's merch booth by yourself will directly result in you taking damage.
Outside of the main missions, the land is vast with lots of things to do. There are races to take part in with your Deuce, hunting missions where you kill a certain number of the wildlife, ambush missions where you lead a group of allies against a patrolling enemy force, and mortar missions where you direct a mortar cannons attacks. There are some unique side missions, but for the most part you will be doing a lot of ambushes and races. A variety of collectibles and things can be found, like Bound Serpents that, for every 10 you free increase your health. Or buried metal that unlocks new songs, new guitar solos, Deuce jumps, and more. The game points you in the direction of the main side quests, but you are on your own to find the 120 Bound Serpents, 12 Legends (these provide background information on the world), and 24 landmark viewers (and that's not all of it).
Great story and characters, hilarious, phenomenal art style, one of the best soundtracks this year.
Repetitive missions, lots of repeated dialogue, might not get the most of it if you’re not into metal.