Jack Black partakes in the metal universe of Brütal Legend, a game which introduces the entire audience to a world that completely stuns and gratifies players into the lifestyle of metal rockers, metal gods, Headbangers, and other metal creatures that base the structure of rock and roll to create a form of music that lends itself to power in the universe of the era. Brütal Legend unfortunately does find a chord in repetitiveness and button-mashing combination scheme throughout the game. Double Fine still makes sure that the entirety of the musical composition that makes Brütal Legend is definitely fun and exciting. Whimsical comedy in the entertaining storyline, terrific voice acting, and a unique supporting cast creates an indelible mark on the metal genre of Brütal Legend. Tim Schafer’s Brütal Legend combines the magical and extraordinarily hilarious for an experience that does not build just on metal but finds a way to bring out metal in the world.
The game begins with Eddie Riggs, an unlikely exemplar to the metal world that is the best roadie who tours with the worst band ever, Kabbage Boy, composed of extorting their tween fan base at the cost of true metal, something which Eddie knows is a true disgrace to the early 70s fashion. When one of the members of the cast climbs a high level horn, Eddie steps in to rescue him because sometimes – a roadie has to save the show. Eddie ends up being crushed when the stage falls on him and drips blood on the amulet on his belt, adorned with the face of Ormagöden. As The Fire Beast, Destroyer of the Ancient World, and Cremator of the Sky, Ormagöden transports Eddie into another era of a completely different universe that relies on the artwork of metal sound. The world is currently overrun by Emperor Doviculus, a demon that runs a world to ignite a sense of degradation over humanity. Heavy metal rockers are the rebel-seekers, looking to inspire change and set humanity free. Luckily for them, Eddie Riggs arrives. As the chosen one by the Ormagöden, Eddie Riggs comes to discover a fantasy world that finds its origins by a race of ancient Titans that left behind numerous relics and instructions for the generations to come in order to build society upon. Unfortunately, no one can decipher these relic meanings except Eddie. Due to his roadie skills, Eddie is able to make sense of relic meanings and can put the Titans’ wisdom to use to ignite a revolutionary havoc in a world engulfed in the fiery panic of metal and the genre that sparks a light in the underworld.
Brütal Legend defines the level of heavy metal art it encompasses from the very beginning. The artwork works in harmony with special features of the game itself. Freeze-frame snaps of certain tutorial facts come interleaved with the gameplay in an etched sketch of the scene, like an artistic rendition. The main menu is a beautifully crafted video of two hands browsing through a Metal Album cover, with the menus representing different factors of the game such as multiplayer and extras. Before the action really starts off, the Profanity and Violence filter for Brütal Legend present prompts to players and is probably one of the best things that most games seem to never incorporate. This filter allows for content to be suited to an older audience of metal fans and a younger audience that prefers no foul language or over the top demonic violence. The amount of artistic work in Brütal Legend combined with the art direction of the game itself creates a unique interactive experience the moment the game starts.
Most of the Nordic fantasy inspired world finds itself as the basis of Eddie Riggs’s missions. Brütal Legend comprises of over 25 unique missions that act to further the plot of the revolutionary cause. Based in Bladehenge, Eddie Riggs begins the Ironheade warrior army of Headbangers, heavy metal rockers, and other allies he meets along the way. While roaming Eddie runs across a few allies such as Ophelia, Lars, and Lita Halford. Eddie Riggs can travel across the open-roam world with “The Deuce,” a hot rod built out of scrap metal. While traveling across the Nordic inspired fantasy world, Eddie can also partake in secondary missions (ranging up to 30 unique secondary missions) that allows him to be the best roadie in this new world. Fighting enemies does not just happen in primary missions, but also in the secondary missions where people need Eddie Riggs’s help the most.
Eddie Rigs fights enemies with a control scheme that involves a large variety of combinations and other elating features that directly relate to the type of weapon being used. Essentially, the world of Brütal Legend highlights the ordinary into the supernatural and mystical – making various instruments and scrap metal parts into something that can be amazing. For Eddie Riggs, the world of rock is real and so are the consequences of every chord. The guitar becomes more of an important aspect in the world of Brütal Legend. Eddie’s normal guitar Clementine becomes enhanced with fantastical abilities that range from pyrotechnics to electrocution. The lock-on system helps to deliver damage and is a standard lock-on targeting system that is typical of action games in addition to the range and size of the enemies themselves. “The Seperator” is a heavy battle axe that can be used to slice enemies to bits and also perform an “Earthshatter” effect which proves quite useful. Upgrades to such weapons are found at the Motor Forge, which utilizes an in-game currency of ‘Fire Tributes’ to add enhancement to weapons or give Eddie Riggs new abilities.
While Brütal Legend contains various styles for fighting enemies with different metal-inspired moves sure to rock enemies out of their lives, there is always a level of repetitiveness to Brütal Legend that makes the direct combat aspect tedious and bland. From place to place in the world, Eddie has to fight different enemies but players have to consistently use the same button mashing aspects throughout the game, which ends up being a major negative point to everything else that adds to the heavy metal action.
Eddie Briggs makes a majority of the Ironheade army through a Real Time Strategy simplistic design that involves the use of the directional pads to control various soldiers around such as Headbangers. Eddie Briggs can control these helping squads and order them to help complete missions that can range from destroying statues to attacking groups of enemies or a central enemy himself. This RTS-like aspect of the game is evidently different from games that use only one fighting scheme and never think twice to use different fighting systems for a world that deserves a bigger and broader number of strategies to fight the hundreds of enemies in the world. Unfortunately, the RTS type element does have the problem of being overly ridiculous at times. Choosing individual units is a bit challenging, and the directional buttons are never sure where the soldiers or units might end up, either on the position you are flying or somewhere in front of it. While the RTS element is interesting and a decent addition, this direction problem poses a big drawback in these stage battles. Brütal Legend distinctly creates a unique perspective that takes a tradition button-combination action adventure game and combines it into something different with the simplistic yet highly interesting RTS system despite its problems.
The idiopathic route to achieving progress to the Brütal revolution in Bladehenge involves Battle Stages that are essential to the overall story arch. Big boss battles are essentially fought through the same RTS design as used in the rest of the world with various companions to help in the fight. Eddie Riggs utilizes “fan geysers” to create an army that can fight the bigger battle. Since everything is about the fans themselves, heavy metal rockers in this world find all their resources limited by their fan base. Eventually, Eddie Riggs will transform into a winged demon from which the player can keep a more RTS like approach with a bird’s eye view of the battlefield than a straight lateral view that can be hard to adjust in order to deliver attacks.
The multiplayer modes are essentially team-based and centralize on a simplified Real Time Strategy structure which includes four-on-four skirmish mode. Every team can select from one of three factions which determines resources and types of troops which can be summoned to defend the stage, the main tower that needs to be defended from the other team. All three factions include Ironhead, mostly human-based troops led by Eddie Riggs, The Drowning Doom, mythological creatures headed by Ophelia, and The Tainted Coil as demons controlled by Doviculus. Each player can utilize the teams resources and is represented by a single main avatar which essentially has all the options from the single-player campaign. Different types of troops are available, costing various amounts of fans to summon, with the potential to upgrade to improved units through different routes. The number and types of troops that can be summoned is limited.
The art direction by Scott Campbell does an intense job of showing a world of fantasy that is slightly beyond fantasy, creating elements of heavy metal, demons, and spiritual creatures to create a believable world for players to kill enemies in every mission and add to make the negatives of the game not too bitter, considering the repetitive nature of the game itself tends to involve a lot of backtracking and button mashing.
Brütal Legend is full of surprises, hilarity, brilliant voice acting and a level of metal mixed with the right amount of Nordic inspired fantasy that creates for a great rock adventure that is fun to play and great to keep playing after the main storyline is done and over. The game itself lends to a huge flaw in the repetitive nature of the primary combat, and the level of backtracking in the well detailed open world environment, but there are many elements that make Brütal Legend a gift from the Metal Gods. Brütal Legend gives players a fantasy world that lives on its own rules, heroes and villains that makes for something believable. The best part of Brütal Legend solely depends on the fact that it is a game that can be played by anyone, even someone who dislikes metal. Brütal Legend is sonorously not just a game for metal fans as Tim Shafer’s Monkey Island was not just a game for pirates. Likewise, you do not have to be metal to love Brütal Legend.