“Do you want to start a revolution? Now or Later?” This isn’t the type of question many people are asked everyday. In fact, I highly doubt many people have been asked the question in their life time. However, in Tim Schafer’s latest creation: Brutal Legend, it is a common occurrence and one players will almost always answer: “Now.”
Brutal Legend follows the story of Eddie Riggs, the best roadie the world has ever seen. Voiced by Jack Black, Eddie is injured and knocked unconscious during a Kabbage Boy gig, when his blood lands on his cursed belt buckle magically transforming the stage set into Ormagöden – a fire beast. Ormagöde transports Eddie into a heavy metal world where he meets Lars and Lita Halford, as well as Ophelia – his romantic crush, who help Eddie create an army to fight Lionwhyte. Nevertheless, this isn’t your typical army with soldiers and medics, more headbangers, female slaves, roadies and bikers.
Whilst this may sound like the strangest action-adventure storyline you could ever imagine, the bizarreness doesn’t end there. Brutal Legend features strategic elements, known as “Stage Battles,” which occur at various points throughout the game. Players collect fans by building merchandise booths on top of “fan geysers”. These fans can then be used to summon units into battle. Unfortunately, this is a weak point within the game. Whilst it does work, there are a number of flaws. Possibly the most regrettable flaw is that it is almost impossible to move one unit to a position without the others following, unless players go through the clunky, tiresome process of moving a single unit.
Stage Battles is also the one and only game mode for Brutal Legend’s multiplayer. Players have the choice between battling it out against the AI; against players on their friends list in Custom Match and in ranked games, coming in the form of Matchmaking. The mode works a lot better online than it does within the single player story mode, with both players having the same disadvantages. Despite that, players are only likely to play a few online games in all as it can prove tedious after one or two battles.
Another big emphasis in Brutal Legend is “Star Solos”, a mini-game inclusion in which players match the note to the buttons on the controller. These can be performed at almost any point in the game once players have found and prompted the appropriate relics. Successfully completing a solo activates the solo’s reward, whether it be melting the face of nearby enemies or making Eddie’s car, known as “The Deuce”, appear. Initially, the inclusion of the car within the game came as quite a surprise, though after an hour or so into the title, I soon came to realise this would become a common feature. Nevertheless, the car’s handling is to an acceptable level and there are many jumps, ramps and Bound Serpent collectibles along the way to make driving long distances that more bearable.
Brutal Legend also contains aspects of a sandbox title, offering secondary missions that can be accessed at any point within the game. These missions consist of hunting animals, ambushing enemies, defending an area in outpost defence, assisting a companion using a mortar and racing against the land’s inhabitants. Whilst they can get slightly repetitive, the secondary missions add a couple of hours on top of the already lengthy story and can reward players with additional Fire Tributes.
Completion of any mission within the game rewards players with Fire Tributes, acting as the game’s currency/points system, which can be spent at Motor Forge – the rock metal equivalent to a mechanic’s garage. Motor Forge allows players to purchase upgrades to Eddie’s weapons and vehicle, though possibly the highlight of the ‘building’ is an appearance from “The Guardian of Metal”, better known as Ozzy Osbourne.
The star-studded line-up in Brutal Legend makes the title that extra bit more fun to play. As well as mocking and merging well-recognised stars within the rock world, the game also has a very impressive audio cast, featuring the likes of Rob Halford, Lita Ford and Tim Curry. The game also features a wide array of well-known tracks for players to listen to whilst in Eddie’s car, something the keen rocker will certainly enjoy. The audio is on a similar level to the game’s graphics, which surpassed my expectations. Every inch of the open world has been designed to a very good standard and the unique character designs have been brilliantly executed. Even the blood spurting out of enemies looks fantastic in all its gory wonder, which brings me onto one of the game’s other unique features.
During the game’s first cutscene, players are prompted on two of the game’s features: Swearing and Gore. Tim Schafer included a filter, so that players have the choice between “hearing every nasty syllable” or making the game “funnier if you bleep [swear words] out” and having gore “only when it really would look very awesome” or “no gore” at all. Although it has been done before (in the likes of Gears of War 2), the feature is pulled off superbly, so that selecting a different option on a second playthrough offers the player a slightly different experience to the one they witnessed first time around.
To conclude, Brutal Legend lives up to the hype. The combination of a humorous action-adventure story with music and gameplay to match, makes the game one of the most unique titles on the market at the moment and one I thoroughly recommend any gamer to purchase.