Brutal Legend

Brutal Legend is an utterly unique game, one that features the astonishing and imaginative environments that Double Fine and head honcho Tim Schaefer have become known for

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EA Games Brutal Legend
  • EA Games Brutal Legend
  • EA Games Brutal Legend
  • EA Games Brutal Legend

Pros

  • Undoubtedly your first view of Mount Rockmore after unlocking every effigy, epic, Ozzy Osbourne as the Guardian of Metal is hands down one of the coolest combinations since Fatboy Slim and Christopher Walken

Cons

  • The game isn't without its flaws, the clunky combat system is sure to get on some players' nerves

Bottom Line

Buy it. It's epic, it's innovative, and it's a total blast from beginning to end.

Would you buy this?

While Tim Schafer's games have earned him a ton of cred with critics and diehard fans, it hasn't always translated into mainstream commerical success (seriously, why didn't you guys buy Psychonauts? It was freaking awesome and should have sold a bajillion copies!). But we're pretty sure Brutal Legend will get him the financial success, along with the usual critical praise, that he richly deserves because even though it suffers from a lacklustre presentation and some quirky bugs, it's still a vintage Schafer game: unique, hilarious and a whole lot of fun to play.

Brutal Legend is an utterly unique game, one that features the astonishing and imaginative environments that Double Fine and head honcho Tim Schaefer have become known for. Wonderfully zany wildlife inhabits the game's inspired cliffs and canyons, with delightfully twisted architecture assembled across its rolling landscape. Boasting stellar art direction and an expertly crafted world, Brutal Legend is, without a doubt, one of the most innovative titles I've ever played. If I could judge this game based solely on the big goofy smile painted across my face in reaction to its wit and pioneering appeal, it would be an easy 5 out of 5, but there's quite a bit more to this game than its inherent charm. This is both a good thing and a bad thing.

Backstage Pass

Brutal Legend is the story of roadie extraordinaire Eddie Riggs, a jaded stagehand with ninja-esque abilities and indomitable musical prowess. After a lifetime of tuning guitars and building sets for the forefathers of rock, Eddie is now forced to babysit obnoxious hipster imposters as they butcher the essence of the heavy metal music he loves so much. Cue an unfortunate onstage mishap that awakens the fire demon dwelling in Eddie's belt buckle (go figure), and the hard-rocking roadie soon finds himself transported to a mystical world of magic, mayhem and metal. Stranded in a hellishly war-torn (yet undisputedly cool) landscape, Eddie joins forces with Lars Halford and his rag-tag gang of head-banging freedom fighters as they rise up in rebellion against the sinister Emperor Doviculus and his glam rocker General Lionwhyte. To sum it up, Brutal Legend doesn't lack heart or imagination.

We Are the Road Crew

With a focus on open-world exploration, plenty of unique missions await Eddie as he treks across its face-melting facade, ranging from delivery missions-Transport booze from the Sacred Beer Tree-to outright destruction-help an inept cannonier blast Doviculus' minions to kingdom come. There's a great amount of variety in Eddie's antics, but one can't help but feel that you're occasionally doing the same thing over and over again, albeit under different pretenses. For instance, ambush and defense missions inevitably turn into mindless hack and slash escapades where you repetitively drive the Deuce (Eddie's souped up ride) from point A to point B. Thankfully, this redundancy is broken up quite nicely by the game's open world exploration which urges players to locate various creatures and relics to earn some interesting extras. Each mission completed or extra discovered grants Eddie a number of Fire Tributes, which allows the player to visit the Guardian of Metal in the mystical Motor Forge, where they can upgrade their arsenal of attacks and add any number of modifications to their trusty car. The amount of customisations is great, really urging players to immerse themselves in Eddie's richly detailed world.

The game's core missions revolve around Eddie hacking and slashing everything in sight early on, but soon delve into the more strategy oriented Stage Battles. This consists of building and manning an army as you feed off of the energy of your fans. It's certainly an interesting feature, specifically when implemented into Brutal Legend's massive multiplayer, but like so many aspects of the game, it just feels a bit clunky and unpolished. Character models awkwardly interact with each other throughout, and some unfortunate technical issues (slowdown, clipping and texture popping, chief among them) really took me out of the experience on occasion. Clunky handling on the Deuce's part made me dread occasional driving missions, and the overall lack of polish is enough to turn impatient players away from the game's overall immersion quite quickly. While many of these issues are indeed minor annoyances, I feel the need to mention them only because I firmly believe that, with some extra time (and a lack of legal battles) Brutal Legend could have been tweaked to perfection and celebrated as one of the most perfectly inspiring titles in decades. As it is, Double Fine's latest is certainly an entertaining and enjoyable title through and through, but its numerous bugs and quirks keep it from achieving legendary status.

Metal on Metal

One of the most important, and also one of the most grating aspects of Brutal Legend is its sound. With an amazing assortment of heavy metal prodigies populating the game's soundtrack, the game's range of head-banging tunes is an absolute joy. Using the Mouth of Metal found in the Deuce, players can form their own playlists featuring just about everything from Sabbath to Motorhead, and jump from song to song at their leisure. The game's voice acting is another high point, with Hollywood heavyweights such as Jack Black and Tim Curry joined by hard rocking legends such as Lemmy Kilmister and Ozzy Osbourne. Throw in Schafer's trademark wit for good measure and you've got a fantastic and unforgettable script performed by an all-star cast. So where does the "grating" part of this come in, you ask: with the game's unimpressive sound effects. In fact, in many instances, they're just plain bad. The 'thunks' of Eddie's axes and spurts of enemy blood come off like throwaway stock sound effects, most noticeably during the game's many cutscenes.

Visually, however, Brutal Legend is pretty impressive. It doesn't sport next-gen effects like you'd find in Uncharted 2, but the game's personality really comes through, which means much more than I can express. From the crackling lighting on Eddie's flying V to the gaudy amount of make-up caked onto General Lionwhyte's face, you feel like you're really in Brutal Legend's inventive and oftentimes insane world. Occasionally players are bound to come across some murky textures or a few of the previously mentioned graphical glitches, but the moment they find themselves flying through a swarm of Spark Plug Bugs after blazing over a cracked canyon via an off-road ramp, they're bound to look past these minor hiccups.

Encore! Encore!

Brutal Legend is a fun game with some very noticeable flaws and some less-than-stellar presentation, but in the end it's a memorable adventure I'd certainly recommend to any aspiring roadie. It comes pre-packaged with its fair share of issues, quirks and bugs, but all of the near-misses in the world can't take the fun out of this inspired adventure. While Brutal Legend may not sit atop heavy metal as its undisputed ruler, it's unquestionably a blast while it lasts and certainly deserving of an encore.

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