Developed by Double Fine
On consoles and Steam for PC
BRUTAL LEGEND focuses on the character of Eddie Riggs, a metal-head roadie who has to tune guitars and such for “the world’s worst ‘heavy metal’ band”, Kabbage Boy. When a stage accident lands Eddie unconscious, Eddie is thrust into an alternate world, where true metal has the potential to thrive, if it wasn’t for demon Emperor of the Tainted Coil, Doviculus, and his minion, glam rocker General Lionwhyte.
Attaining special abilities in this new world, Eddie finds himself equiped with three powerful weapons: a broad axe called ‘The Seperator’, ‘Clementine’ the flying-V guitar that can be used to cast magic spells, and ‘The Deuce’, a heavy metal motor vehicle that can be weaponised to defeat enemies. With the added ability of reading ancient Titans’ messages, Eddie is herald as a ‘chosen one’ by a group of resistance metallers, led by Lars Halford, his sister Lita and Ophelia. Eddie vows to help Lars’ resistance movement to take down General Lionwhyte and Doviculus, but in order to do so, they’ll need an army. But no ordinary army will do. They’ll need a HEAVY METAL army, and being a roadie, Eddie knows just what to do to organise a crew to put on the best show ever.
BRUTAL LEGEND is a third-person action-adventure cum real time strategy game set in an alternative universe where metal rules supreme. Fans of rock or metal music will be in their element, especially with the intro of the game, where Tenacious D singer/guitarist, Jack Black, who voices the protagonist Eddie, summons the player to follow him into a record store to find this ‘rare’ title. Pulling out the vinyl of Brutal Legend from the shelf, the player can begin the game. A cut-scene which introduces the character of Eddie is really well done, detailing the role which he plays in live shows. His despair at serving an indie or pop band acting as metal is evident to see and we yearn for him to have a better life with real metal music. A bittersweet event lands him where he’s needed most, the Temple of Ormagöden, where Eddie must beat Doviculus’ demon minions with a little help from Ophelia. This opening level acts as a tutorial for the player and helps them get to grips with the weapons at Eddie’s disposal as well as the powers of Clementine and the building of The Deuce.
After escaping the Temple, Eddie drives Ophelia to Bladehenge, a settlement where the metal resistance led by Lars Halford, resides. Eddie gives Lars and the resistance new hope against General Lionwhyte, and decides to recruit an Ironheade army so they may be successful in their quest. As Eddie, the player must complete a set of tasks that see Eddie recruiting an array of characters, to headbangers with enormous traps to motorcycle riding Fire Barons, led by a character voiced by Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, who also voice General Lionwhyte.
The main and most difficult of the missions are the battles. Eddie’s army set up a stage and the player must free fan geysers and build merchandise booths upon them to make the fans happy and gain more fans. The more fans that are gained, the more Ironheade units can be loaded onto the battlefield. The units are made up of the different factions, including Razor Girls, the Thunder Hog, Roadies, Bouncers, Metal Beasts and more. Each unit has a speciality, and also a special double-team attack that can be used when the player engages Eddie with the unit. The aim of the the battle is to gain as many fans as possible, securing with merch booths to put units on the battlefield, and take over the enemy fan geysers and ultimately destroy the enemy stage. Whilst this sounds rather easy, the battle is player out in real-time, therefore strategy is rather important. I found the real-time strategy element of the game to be rather overwhelming, as I didn’t quite know how the game and the battle worked to execute the proper strategy. Needless to say, if like me, you’ll begin to work out how the battle commands and strategy works by spending time playing the game and failing numerous times. As Eddie, the player can fly high above the battlefield using demon wings, and assign commands such as ‘defend’, ‘attack’ and ‘follow’ to the Ironheade units, using light markers. The player can directly get involved with the battle action too, with the use of Eddie’s magic spells and axe, as well as operating the fog, stage speaker system and stage lights to help wear down and defeat enemies. When claiming a fan geyser to build a merch booth, summoning The Deuce or creating a positive effect using Battle Cry, the player must use Clementine to activate them. This is done in the form of a button mashing mini-game that is akin to Guitar Hero. The riff is rather simple and one of the enjoying things about using Clementine.
Besides from hack ‘n’ slashing and real-time strategy gameplay, the game requires the player to drive across the landscape of the alternate world. The Deuce is quite sluggish compared to the likes of GTA, but is not that hard to handle. Eddie can enter the Motor Forge, protected by the Guardian of Metal, Ozzy Osbourne, to upgrade The Deuce with weapons that will help with both main quests and side missions. What I found awkward with the driving aspect of the game is that it’s very hard to see a defined path in the alternative world, so I ended up getting stuck or driving way out of distance when all I wanted to do is get to the next mission marker.
As I previously mentioned, BRUTAL LEGEND is chock full of metal and rock icons, including Ozzy, Rob Halford, Lita Ford, Lemmy and Jack Black, as well as featuring a rocking soundtrack. As a film fan, I was over the moon to recognise the voice of Tim Curry as the demonic bad guy, Doviculus. The collection of well-known stars is the main draw of the game, alongside it’s metal-based soundtrack and gameplay.
Away from the game, BRUTAL LEGEND has a strong narrative with an entertaining script. Tongue is firmly in cheek in this game, with little snips of humour here and there that will tickle the player. With rock stars, such as the likes of Ozzy, within the game, it of course has swearing, though the creators Double Fine have allowed the game to be censored if need be, with options to have blood show in the game or not, and whether the player would like to censor swear words or not. This is great to let younger players enjoy the game, as well as those who prefer a less profane approach, though the uncensored version isn’t that bad, which is the version I played.
Playing the PC version of the game via Steam, I found the graphics to be excellent and the game worked well with the Microsoft Xbox 360 controller for Windows. Trading cards and achievements can also be unlocked on Steam for those with an interest in it.
Ultimately, the game is enjoyable, though I would have preferred there to have been more action-adventure missions to the main story rather than real-time strategy battles which ate up a lot of the gameplay. It took me 16 hours to complete the main story and one side mission, though a good few hours of that was learning how to conquer the battles and failing miserably. If Double Fine ever were to make a sequel, I’d also like to see clearer paths for the driving aspect of the game. Other than that, the game succeeds for the gaming market, especially for music fans, with an excellent voice cast, script and engaging story.