Brutal Legend detailed review
A tribute to Metal Gods and head-bangers across the globe, Tim Schafer and his team’s latest labour of love has finally seen the light of day. Brütal Legend is just as much an accolade to the Metal bands of yore, as it is critical of the Glam Rock bands that followed.
Angel of Retribution
The protagonist, a roadie named Eddie Riggs, has an on-stage mishap during a gig and finds himself transported to a fantasy world of rock and roll mythos—an expertly crafted domain based on the art and style of Norse mythology and Metal album covers.
Legend has it that the world was created and ruled by a great fire-and-metal beast called Ormagöden. After the beast’s fall, the world was inherited by a race of super-humans called The Titans, who brought forth Heavy Metal music.
With a deep sense of honour for Metal music and disillusioned by the successors of that art-form, Eddie feels right at home in this new world. All is not well, however, as this world is ruled by the tyrannical Emperor Doviculus.
Eddie finds kinship with a group of dissidents, led by a character named Lars Halford who is accompanied by his sister Lita and Eddie’s love interest, Ophelia. In the course of their adventures, the motley crew comes across more interesting characters as they garner support for their fight against the Emperor and his second-in-command, General Lionwhyte.
And Eddie himself is no push-over, as he is armed with a personal arsenal of metal goodness—a Flying V guitar, a battleaxe and a hotrod called The Deuce (also called The Druid Plow).
Of Mice and Men
Rendered using a custom in-house engine, this game should is a refreshing change from the boring brown-grey palette that most of the industry seems to be fixated on. For most part, Brutal Legend plays like a typical open-world game. However, what sets it apart from the rest is the intricately crafted architecture and landscape.
Strewn across the levels are triggers for the game’s main campaign mission and a host of side-missions, all of which reward you with Fire Tributes – the world’s currency that can be used to purchase upgrades. And who better to provide these upgrades than the ‘Guardian of Metal’, played by Ozzy Osbourne.
In addition to completing these missions, Fire Tributes can be earned by unlocking points of interest scattered throughout the game world; and each of these comes with its own, additional unique reward. For example, freeing a fixed number of gagged Dragon Statues will be rewarded with a boost to character attributes like health. Other rewards come in the form of new guitar solos, additional music tracks that can be played on The Deuce’s radio, insight into the origin of the world and a panoramic view of the world’s many landmarks.
Vulgar Display of Power
Among other things, Fire Tributes are exchanged to purchase upgrades for your guitar, battleaxe and the hotrod. Most notable of these upgrades are the ones available for your car. On complete upgrade, it transforms The Deuce into one of the best-looking cars ever seen in a game. It’s not all about looking cool, however, as there is some serious fire power available for your machine, along with performance and armor upgrades.
The game has a fair bit of variety when it comes to combat. Combination of guitar and battleaxe can be used to attack your enemies with some devastating combos, most of them stylised after the on-stage antics of Metal bands. Ranged fire power is available by using only the guitar, either in the form of combos or guitar solos.
Guitar solos take on the traditional role of casting magic spells and work a lot like the note-matching style of music games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Some of these guitar solos are context sensitive, while most of them have unlimited uses; although there is a cool-down timer to prevent spamming. Additional combos and weapon upgrades become available as you progress in the main campaign and they can be accessed by visiting the Guardian of Metal at one of the several Metal Forges in the game world.
Bring your daughter to the slaughter
Apart from the solo exploration missions, the game will throw you into a group battle called Stage Battle. This mode has some elements from the RTS (Real-Time Strategy) genre and some from squad-based games like Overlord and Pikmin. In a Stage Battle, a concert stage acts as a base of operations and the battle commences with each side setting up their own stage.
The ultimate goal here is to destroy the opposing forces’ stage. To achieve this goal, you’ll need to recruit combatants from your stage, with more powerful available only after you upgrade your Stage. To purchase upgrades and recruit units, you’ll need to spend Fan Tributes, which can be acquired by building a Merch Booth (merchandise booth) on top of Fan Geysers. Hence, having more Merch Booths than your opponent becomes an essential part of your winning strategy.
For most part, Eddie will play a more indirect role in this type of battle by issuing commands and buffing his own units or de-buffing enemy units. He can also team up with any of the available units to unleash some special attacks. If the enemy units get too close to your stage, a last line of defense is available in the form of speakers and spot-lights.
Nothing Else Matters
In terms of game-play, Brütal Legend does not offer anything revolutionary. What it does well is combine some of the tried-and-tested elements from other games to a generally satisfying effect. The game has a brilliantly funny script that we all have come to expect from Tim Schafer, which is further supported by some solid voice acting from the likes of Rob Halford, Lita Ford, Tim Curry and David Cross, among others.
Most notable of the lot is voice acting by Ozzy Osbourne with his signature broody voice and the work of self-styled messiah of Rock ’n’ Roll, Jack Black, as our protagonist Eddie. The game serves its intended audience of Metal fans well, featuring a track list
– over 100 songs by 70 bands – that can be envy of any music game.
Hard as a Rock
Like all the other games out there, Brütal Legend also has some flaws, although most of them are minor ones and not deal-breakers. For one, some people may find the main campaign a little short, spanning over six to seven hours. Additionally, like with most open-world games, the side mission can get a bit repetitive. For me, however, the biggest gripe was the control and camera system, particularly during the Stage Battles.
Issuing commands to your units (especially individual commands) during the heat of a battle can be a bit difficult and may take a bit of practice to master. To that effect, the game does offer you an option to practice your Stage Battle skills with the A.I before you challenge others in the unforgiving world of online multiplayer gaming.
All in all, this is one solid game and a must-have for all music fans, especially those of Heavy Metal. For others, there is the prospect of exploring a well-crafted game world with a unique art style. If none of these tickle your fancy, then you can count on the game’s script that ensures there is never a dull moment.
Genre: Action, Adventure
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Electronic Arts
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
PlayStation 3 – Milestone Interactive
Xbox 360 – Redington
PlayStation 3 – Rs. 2,499
Xbox 360 – Rs. 2,499