by Preston Dozsa
reviewed on PC
Into the Mixing Pot...
Brutal Legend feels like the end result of a pitch meeting where every idea that was shouted out was accepted. An epic homage to the history and genres of heavy metal? Check. Hack n’ slash gameplay centred around a combination of axes, one of which is actually a guitar? Check. A sudden reveal two hours into the game that the gameplay is actually more of a real-time strategy rather than the action game that you had previously been playing? Check. Driving a buggy that controls like a Model-T with nitrous? Check. And for good measure, how about we grab Jack Black, Lemmy, Rob Halford and Ozzy Osbourne to voice the characters? Check, check and check.
The final product incorporates all of these elements (and then some) to create a game that is always on the cusp of reaching greatness, but because of its design is never able to reach it. Not that Brutal Legend cares anyway, as it is more inclined to punch game design in the face, yell “Rock On!” and continue on its merry way. You can criticize the game for its design, but you sure as hell can’t criticize its boundless enthusiasm.
Love Letter to Heavy Metal
Brutal Legend is about a roadie named Eddie Riggs who suddenly finds himself transported to another world inspired by the history of heavy metal music. Upon arrival, he discovers that humanity is being enslaved by a race of demons led by the devilishly named Emperor Doviculus, and subsequently joins the human resistance in order to defeat demon kind. It’s a simple tale, and one that contains few surprises over the course of the game’s six to ten hour campaign. But it is sufficient, because it allows for the creation of one of the most original worlds in gaming in a long time.
At its core Brutal Legend is a love letter to heavy metal, and pulls no stops in showing the glory and glamour that the genre represents. The world design is spectacular, with each area of the world feeling like it could have been pulled from an album cover. A massive wall made entirely of amps and speakers, a spider cave filled with webs made of chrome, and massive statues of guitars and weapons are just a few of the varied locales that you will travel to over the course of the game. The entire world is a giant piece of artwork, and I often drove around in the buggy – which you can summon at any point – listening to music as I admired the phenomenal world design.
Until the buggy I was driving failed to make a proper turn and continued to drive off the nearest cliff. Having a car which regularly flips and slides no matter how you control it is frustrating to say the least. Let me bask in the world that you have created, not waste time re-summoning a vehicle because the previous one hit a bump and flipped over.
The same attention that was spent designing the world was also spent designing a batch of characters who I grew to love and laugh with over the course of the game. Jack Black manages to keep a toned down performance as Eddie Riggs, partially because Eddie is not the real hero of the game per se. He just manages the tour bus, keeping the war going while the real heroes shine in the spotlight.
Beautiful world, great characters and humour, amazing music, fun
Poorly implemented gameplay, horrid car, lacks focus