Brutal Legend is a difficult game to classify. I know I can say the game is good. I also know that much care was taken with the handling of such an absurd property. But I don’t know which group to pitch this game to without having to then let them know that there may be parts they don’t exactly like.
Okay, you’re confused, so let me confuse you deeper by explaining that Brutal Legend is a hack n’ slash, rhythm based, driving simulator, real time strategy starring Jack Black…game. Now you’re probably even more confused. Understandable, so let’s start at the beginning.
There’s a Game Here Somewhere…
Eddie Riggs is somehow sucked into a world that epitomizes Heavy Metal, causing you to follow Eddie as he melts faces and blows minds. Jack Black voices Eddie, making one of the best casting choices ever. Some people hated the thought, but it works great here. Obviously, if you can’t stand Jack Black, you’ll hate the game. Otherwise you’ll be impressed, but Black isn’t the only noteworthy performance at work here. Pretty much every character gets a great voice, with a handful of actual rock legends, such as Ozzie Osbourne, coming in and putting the script at a level higher than most other games on the market.
That’s really the selling point here. Double Fine’s Tim Schafer leads the crew, and thus far he hasn’t disappointed with his games. Some of you may remember Psychonauts from a few years back. That was Tim Schafer and Double Fine. Writing is golden here. As I said, Brutal Legend’s strongest asset its story.
Sometimes a Story is Worth a Thousand Pictures, Too
However, when I say that the story picks up a lot of the slack, I mean that there is a lot of slack to pick up here. Not everything in the game is up to the standard that the story is. In fact, while a lot of aspects of the game are pulled off well, they aren’t pulled off great. You are slowly brought into the fold when it comes to the hack n’ slash elements of gameplay, but suddenly things turn into an RTS and some people are left confused.
Tim Schafer has even gone so far as claim the game isn’t an RTS and shouldn’t be played as such, but the counter argument that comes best comes from Penny Arcade’s Tycho Brahe which when summarized calls out Schafer by saying, “[Y]ou can’t really blame people for playing the game as an RTS when that’s explicitly how you taught them to play it.”
Still, there is a lot of fun to be had in the title. Much care was placed in a successful attempt to make any and everyone fall in love with the glorified version of Heavy Metal. Everything is just cool and it demands you believe the same; a claim that you’ll be more than ready to agree with. The soundtrack to the game is stuffed with both well-known Metal songs and obscure tracks that you’ll probably be looking up soon afterward.
As a whole, Brutal Legend is a strange beast, but it’s a beast nonetheless. It is also rated M, so as usual I must inform you children out there to play the waiting game until you’re old enough to mess around with the brutal side of the gaming spectrum. For the rest of us, Brutal Legend makes a good gift for the holidays at $59.99 for the Xbox 360 and PS3.