Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Offline Players: 1
4MB to Game Save
Online Multiplayer: 2-8
HDTV 720p, 1080i and 1080p Support
Game Content Download
Dolby 5.1 In-Game
Developed by Double Fine Productions and published by EA, Brutal Legend arrives on the scene at a time when the market is flooded with games which offer up little in the way of originality or lasting power. Brutal Legend is quite the opposite. Not only does Brutal Legend offer up quite a bit in terms of originality but it's also a blast to play. Starring none other than Jack Black who does the voice work for our main roadie hero Eddie Riggs, Brutal Legend is one of the more enjoyable experiences I have had on the Xbox 360 in quite some time. Brutal Legend is not without its share of issues, but on the whole it is great ride from beginning to end.
I have to admit in the weeks and months leading up to Brutal Legend's release I was not all that impressed with the games visuals. This is not to say it was a bad looking game, but you could easily tell Brutal Legend did not push the limits of the Xbox 360's hardware and it did not look as good as some of the other Triple A games already on the console. Well, I have since changed my tune after some extended playtime. At this point, I am actually quite impressed with the game’s visuals. Brutal Legend has a stylish and artistic look to it. No other game that I have ever played has managed to portray the world of Heavy Metal music in such a manner. Although the characters may appear to some like Guitar Hero clones, and the games overall look and presentation is not a technical masterpiece; at the end of the day the graphics still deliver in many ways.
For starters, the games nightmarish fantasy metal world where the majority of the game takes place is awesome. Freakish creatures decked out in spiked wristbands, eyeliner, loads of leather, and anything else you would typically see at a 1980's metal concert is just some of the sights in Brutal Legend. The open world which is inspired by heavy metal album artwork spans 64 km in area and is filled with lush landscapes, steep canyons, roads to hell and strange metal icons. Exploring the world, which the game allows you to do without any consequence, is a delight. You can literally spend hours awestruck at the scenery while cruising around in Eddie's Hot Rod, which he calls "The Deuce", searching for landmarks, artifacts and buried metal. It is a stunning world and I was simply impressed with the amount of detail that went into it.
The characters themselves look decent but will not blow your socks off.
Again, it is not that they look bad but I cannot help but compare them to Call of Duty or Gears of War characters and be a little disappointed. Granted the comparison may be a little unfair but it was certainly my first thought when assessing the games peeps. In terms of the positive, the characters are stylish and do represent the metal world to perfection. I was very impressed with some of the characters facial expressions and emotions. The way Eddie Riggs reacted in anger, sadness, or enthusiasm really shines through in the game. These facial expressions and some life-like emotion enhanced the gameplay experience as I really found myself caring for Eddie and his sidekicks. Some of the characters you encounter will very much remind you of those on-stage Guitar Hero characters but the game makes up for these shortcomings with some of the most freakish creatures and monsters seen to date. Some of the art direction will have you scratching your head wondering how they came up with some of these abominations.
I should also mention the games cut-scenes are also well done. The story telling in the game is phenomenal and Brutal Legend manages to visually portray the games cut-scenes in such a manner that it really hooks you in. When I go back and play the game the second time through I won't be skipping these cut-scenes. The game does suffer from some framerate issues at times; however for the most part it is not a major problem Overall the game runs fairly smooth experiencing little technical issues.
As far as Brutal Legend's sound is concerned, it really does not get any better than this. From the excellent soundtrack to Jack Black’s comedic voice acting, you cannot help but be truly impressed with Brutal Legend's sound package. I consider the game ear candy as it really is that good. Obviously any metal fan will enjoy the games soundtrack but fringe fans or casual fans will also appreciate the games track list.
Brutal Legend features 108 heavy metal tracks from 75 different bands which is simply incredible. Everything from classic metal to industrial metal is heard in the game. Clearly a lot of time, effort, and passion went into the song selection and it really pays off. You will hear tunes from Motorhead, Ozzy, Judas Priest, Def Leapard, Black Sabath, Kiss, Ratt, Motely Crue, Slayer, Tenacious D, and Rob Zombie, to name just a few. There are simply too many songs to list. One of my favorite activities in the game was cruising around in "The Deuce" and listening to various tracks. Brutal Legend pays tribute to Heavy Metal music and I cannot envision a track list which could even hold a candle to the one we get in this game.
The game’s voice acting is also very good. Being a Jack Black fan I have to admit I am a little bias. I enjoy Jack Black movies and find his comedic talents highly entertaining. In Brutal Legend, Jack Black's character is a little School of Rock and Tenacious D rolled into one. His enthusiasm and extreme emotions are perfectly delivered in the game. Eddie Riggs was meant to be played by Jack Black and I cannot imagine anyone else playing the part with the same level of passion Jack Black brings to the character. In addition to Jack Black offering up his voice talents, Brutal Legend features a stellar line-up of voice talent. In addition to Black you will find Lemmy Kilmister, Judas Priest's Rob Halford, The Runaways' Lita Ford, Ozzy Osbourne, Kyle Glass from Tenacious D and Tim Curry who all provide character voices. Bottomline, the voice acting in the game is top notch and gives the game a level of authenticity and believability factor unlike any game I have played in quite some time.
As far as the rest of the in-game sound effects are concerned, Brutal Legend delivers. Everything from Eddie using his battle axe to slice apart enemies to the creatures noises as you whip past them hauling ass in "The Deuce", Brutal Legend is an excellent sounding game worthy of a perfect 10 out of 10 score in the audio department.
As far as the storyline is concerned, Eddie Riggs plays the roll of the world's best roadie who unfortunately works for the world's worst "heavy metal" band, Kabbage Boy. According to Eddie, Kabbage Boy represents all that is wrong with today’s Metal, but Eddie goes about his business making the band look good. The game starts out one night at a Kabbage Boy gig when suddenly the lead guitarist falls from a part of the set which overhangs the stage. Eddie catches him but part of the set falls off and lands on top of Eddie. When Eddie awakes he finds himself in a heavy metal fantasy world where demons have enslaved humanity. Eddie eventually comes to learn that the fantasy world was created by a race of ancient Titans who left numerous relics and instructions for the following generations, but neither demons nor humans could decipher their meanings. Eddie, using his bodacious roadie skills, is able to make some sense of their meanings and embarks on journey to save the down-trodden humans against a range of supernatural demons and overlords.
Overall, it is not bad storyline at all. It is clearly overshadowed by the games art direction and sound package; yet on its own it is fairly decent with lots of comedic elements. The way the story takes aim and pokes fun at today’s so-called metal music is simply hilarious. All in all it is decent story but it really takes a back seat to so many other fantastic elements that on display in the game.
Before firing up the game I expected Brutal Legend to a fairly linear package which included several chapters, 10+ hours of gameplay and strictly combat action. Much to my surprise Brutal Legend is surprisingly deep and offers up so much more than your typical third person action adventure game. It takes place in an open world and plays out very much like Crackdown, Grand Theft Auto and The Godfather games, to name a few. Yet it goes one step further by including a large RTS component to the game as well. There is lots of exploration, a ton of unlockables, approximately 23 main missions, and 30 side-quests. The game has an incredible amount of replay value and in terms of 'bang for your buck' Brutal Legend is worth every penny. That being said, Brutal Legend could have been simplified a bit and some of the RTS elements could have been left out.
In terms of the single player experience you control Eddie throughout. Early in the game Eddie acquires three critical tools which are used for combat and transportation. Equipped with a battle axe, his 'Dean V' guitar, and of course "The Deuce", Eddie has plenty at his disposal to do the job. Controlling Eddie is fairly straightforward as the game teaches you the various controls within the first half hour of gameplay. On the downside, the lack of a jump button was annoying. Often I would find myself in a position where if I could just jump over an obstacle it would have saved me from a huge headache; not to mention I would not have to walk all the way around the obstacle. Not quite sure why the jump button was omitted but it would have been a nice addition. Otherwise, axe attacks and guitar attacks are easy to perform along with some of the more advanced moves like the shocker attack with the guitar and the powerful over head smash with the axe. Controlling "The Deuce" (I just love saying, The Deuce) is relatively easy; however it can be problematic at times traveling over steep and curvy terrains. It accelerates quickly and can be difficult to control, but after an hour or so behind the wheel you do get used to some The Deuce's quirks.
Like any game worth its sack these days the upgrades are becoming almost second nature and it is to be expected in third person action games. Brutal Legend is no different. As you progress along in the game, you will play some of the main missions and side quests which will then let you upgrade your tools (axe, guitar and vehicle). Upgrades give you new moves or abilities and can also be purchased using in-game currency called "Fire Tributes" at the Motor Forge. The various moves and tools are used throughout the game to take down enemies and bosses. The upgrades do give the game some replay value but all in all I didn't find much that spectacular about the upgrade system.
Early in the game Eddie meets up with some band members who eventually become his allies. Each ally has a special co-op move they can perform with Eddie. For instance, Eddie can toss Ophelia (Eddie's first ally) around like he is tossing a baseball. It is nice little element to game and brings an RTS element to Brutal Legend. Eddie can also control, for the lack of a better word, squads and have them perform tasks. Early in the game Eddie runs into some "headbangers". The headbangers are not the sharpest tools in the shed but they are a loyal bunch. In the game Eddie can order them to destroy enemies, knock down statues, or just have them follow him around. At times the squads do not always do what you intend them to do but for the most part it works. RTS fans will undoubtedly find the system flawed and not as responsive as they would like; however for those who rarely play RTS games, like me, you will find this simplified RTS approach works quite well. Eddie can also summon a squad to help him go into battle. To summon a squad you hit the right trigger which brings up a playlist. You then select your riff and perform the summoning mini-game which plays out like the note-matching aspect of Guitar Hero or Rock Band. Time the button hits correctly and your squad appears within a matter of seconds; provided they were close by to begin with. Going into this menu is a great idea but unfortunately the action does not stop when you access the playlist. Far too often I would be getting my butt kicked as I tried to concentrate on hitting the notes; it would have been nice if the game paused while I accessed this screen.
Brutal Legend also has a multiplayer mode which doesn't feel like a cheap add-on. Again I was taken back with the amount of content but the style of play was not what I expected. There are no team deathmatch type online games in Brutal Legend, but instead they are more strategy based games. Playing up to a maximum of 4 on 4, each team selects from one of three factions which affect what resources and troops they can summon. You are then tasked with defending your stage from attack by the other team. The three factions available include the Ironhead, mostly human-based troops led by Eddie Riggs, The Drowning Doom, with more mythological creatures led by Ophelia, and The Tainted Coil, evil creatures controlled by Doviculus. As you play you can summon different types of troops to help defend your area. All in all, the multiplayer mode was not up my alley and I really can't see this gaining a large online community. That being said, I did have some enjoyment out of the online play and some may really enjoy the style that it offers.
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