Brütal Legend throws you back into memories of Heavy Metal from 1981. Remember that? Trolls, scantily clad women, medieval weapons and over-the-top metal riffs. Brütal Legend brings modern day laughs into the ancient world of vikings and Stonehenge. Prepare to have your face melted, your jeans acid washed, and your hair to be trimmed into a godly, flowing mullet. With guitar and make-up kit in hand, we bravely step into the world of metal.
The story of Brütal Legend is centered around the world’s greatest roadie, Eddie Riggs (played by Jack Black.) He can build anything, do anything and make a killer show for even the weakest band. That is, until he ends up being crushed under one of his own props. While pinned beneath his own humongous stage prop, he bleeds into his father’s belt buckle and awakens the ancient Fire God, Ormagöden. He is transported to Ormagöden’s temple in an ancient world, awakening to find himself under attack by evil “demons” in cloaks. He uses a nearby Axe called “The Separator” and guitar called “Clementine” to destroy them. From there, he begins his noble journey to save the land from Doviculous (Tim Curry) in the car he builds with his own hands (The “Deuce” a.k.a. “Druid Plow”) and encounters many strange allies and enemies along the way.
The gameplay is generally a free-roaming level that encompasses the entire map, somewhat like GTA IV. The combat is a fairly standard hack and slash combination of the buttons A and X, crossing between your meele axe and ranged guitar. The combat also introduces a “spell” system that has you take out Clementine and play a riff, which all have different effects. Some spells melt the faces of enemies around you, while others summon various things, like a giant flaming zeppelin that crashes around you. I spent most of the game in his car, which can be upgraded with weapons and armor, because the areas that you have to travel to are pretty spaced out across the map. Unfortunately, they left out a mini-map, so you have to use the car’s turn signals to guide you to your next objective. That’s a problem, considering that it gets pretty confusing and then you’re forced to pull out the full map.
There are some variations in gameplay, including a racing mini-game, hunting mini-game and several other combat based side missions. The biggest jump in gameplay is the “Stage Battle” mode. It’s very similar to an RTS game, like Starcraft or Command and Counquer. It gives you a small map with several “geysers” on it, which you capture for resources. Then each team gets a main stage which is fueled by resources from the geysers and is used to create your units. Then you use a D-pad control scheme to give out commands to your troops. The stage battles are well thought out and interesting, but I didn’t particularly enjoy them. Mostly because it was a pretty big jump from the normal gameplay and it added a second learning curve to the game. Still, it was a fun addition to the game and way to keep from being bored by constantly beating people up, but it didn’t really require much strategy or skill once you’re used to it.
The scenery was great in this game, with lots of epic landmarks and locales. It ranged from european style hills with a mock stonehenge HQ to lush jungles with skull rocks, waterfalls, and noose vines. There were so many little things throughout the world that kept the “metal” theme, such as the trees with tortured faces and dragon statues, that it was constantly bringing a smile to my face. These little touches really proved that they weren’t just giving up and making repeat textures for the scenery. It was great having an entirely unique setting for a game.
The soundtrack to this game was really impressive. It boasts a collection of around 100 songs from every sub-genre of metal like black metal, glam metal and gothic. Hell, they even have pirate metal! I’ve never even heard of that, so my mind was pretty blown. It also uses an in-car radio to let you cycle through the library and pick out which ones you want to hear. I would be willing to turn this game on in the background, while I did something else, just to use it as a great metal playlist. By putting all of this effort into the music, they’ve really set the bar for a good soundtrack in games.
The dialogue is another huge factor in why you should play this. They have so many funny parts throughout the story, that it feels really fresh. The story and script make you want to keep playing, only to hear what they’ve got to say. Not to mention the countless cameos by comedians and rockers. There are a few repeated lines by all of the characters that can get a little grating on your ears, but they do a really good job of trying to keep those to a minimum. With a great cast of voice actors, like Jennifer Hale, Kath Soucie, Zach Hanks, Rob Halford from Judas Priest, and the Prince of Darkness Ozzy Osbourne, there are no weak links on the delivery of the dialogue.
Overall, Brütal Legend is well done, fun to play and very cleverly written. My only real complaint is that the campaign is short and it becomes a little repetitive, but with achievements for it’s free roaming, tons of side missions and collectibles, you won’t get done with the game for quite awhile. This metal-head’s fantasy is too much fun to let by without at least renting it.
I give Brütal Legend 4 “Crying Fans” out of 5