Brütal Legend

Just when all seemed dark, when it became apparent that true Metal had run its course and dwindled into something mainstream, the people at Double Fine Productions did a good thing; they created Brütal Legend. Combining elements of Real-Time Strategy into a third person action/adventure game, Brütal Legend is the metal homage that would make Ozzy proud— which it should, since he and with other Metal legends including Rob Halford, Lita Ford, and Lemmy Kilmister, provide their voices to the wide array of characters within the game, and Jack Black sports his Metal side in Brütal Legend as the voice of the lead character, Eddy Riggs. On the surface, the game seems like a simple Metal adventure while listening to the classics, such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Skid Row, but if you dig a little deeper it becomes clear that the tribute goes much deeper than even the giant stone guitars protruding from the ground. Quite simply put, Brütal Legend was exactly what Doctor Feelgood ordered to console us in a time where bands like Disturbed and Escape the Fate are considered Metal. Here’s why:

Meet Eddy Riggs, a loyal headbanger who was unlucky enough to just miss the metal revolution of 1970’s and finds himself in a thankless job as a roadie for a Nu Metal band. During one of the band’s concerts, Eddy has to save one of the members from falling to his death off the set, but in doing so died under a pile of rubble. When he wakes up, Eddy finds that he has been sent back to an age of darkness, where humans fight for their lives against the tyranny of General Lionwhyte. Bringing the magic of Metal to his advantage, Eddy leads a revolution to scream vengeance against Lionwhyte in order to free humanity and defend the faith of Metal throughout the world. Along the way he meets friends such as the Guardian of Metal, the Kill Master, the Fire Baron, and many more.

For the entire game you have two weapons, and before you complain about the lack of creativity in this choice consider that these two weapons are a giant double-edged axe, and an electric guitar that shoots fire and electrocutes your enemies. If that’s not badass, then I don’t know what is. You can guide Eddy around to lop of the heads of your enemies, or blow their minds with a guitar riff (literally), all while learning more and more moves such as the Powerslide. You also have guitar solos at your disposal, which can do a multitude of things, including summoning your car, or melting your enemy’s faces; you name it, it does it. If you’re still complaining about that not being enough, go shoot yourself, or just wait until you see his car.

Yes, no Metalhead can call himself Metal without a deep passion for firebreathing engines and polished chrome. Your hot rod, the Deuce, is a force to be reckon with on the field, and can gain a variety of weapons such as machine guns and rocket launchers, as well as having a nitro speed boost. I guarantee that you’ll be behind the wheel of this thing 80% of your play, not because the story demands it, but simply because driving around in it is so much fun. There’s also a lot of mini-games involving the Deuce, such as racing demons and finding jump stunts. Oh, and did I mention that it also has a rockin’ stereo system? Yes, while driving around and flying off edges you’ll be banging your head to the wonderful soundtrack of the game.

The game’s soundtrack is yet another large piece of the puzzle in what makes Brütal Legend so brilliant. Including the classics, such as Black Sabbath, Motörhead, and Judas Priest, to the 80’s with Testament, Megadeth, and Anthrax, to beyond with bands like Dragonforce, Mastadon, and Iced Earth, the game offers over 100 songs, from 75 different artists, and will never cease to thrill. While driving you can skip tracks, or even customize your playlist to play only the songs you like, or even choose to play a song over and over again. Keep an eye out for secret statues that will offer you bonus songs as well. My only complaint about the soundtrack is that there is absolutely no Iron Maiden, Pantera, or Metallica featured, which is understandable since Double Fine probably couldn’t get the rights, however they do make up for this with several allusions to these bands, as well as hundreds of others.

Aside from the obvious theme of Metal being a unifying force, and the parallel to the metal revolution, Brütal Legend also provides social commentary about different genres of Metal. The enemies of the game represent different factions of Metal that we’ve seen through the decades, such as Glam Metal and Goth Metal, both considered to be threats to the true Metal of the 1970’s and 80’s; while those have come and gone in popularity, the truest Metal has always reigned blood over the rest and lasted through the ages and forever will.

One of the most beautiful things about this game is the environment you can roam around in. Down the last detail, everything about the world of Brütal Legend draws inspiration from Metal themes, and a lot of it was modeled after album covers. From the giant stone statues of guitars, hands raising devil horns, and Mount Rockmore, to the Sea of Black Tears, the wall of amps forming a cliff, and highways to hell and back, the game has everything. A lot of the fun of playing the game comes from simply exploring everything, and seeing how many things you can recognize; and you can even be rewarded for finding certain monuments throughout the game, so keep an eye out.

The fighting in the game takes two different forms. One one hand you can just run around with your axe and guitar, or run enemies over, but on the other hand is a whole other system of RTS-style fighting. During what are called Stage Battles, you can command different groups in your Metal army to capture different checkpoints and eventually take down enemy stages. This can prove to be one of the hardest parts of the game, and really requires strategy in order to beat your enemies and leave them rusting in peace, but after a while you get the hang of it and your army will become a force to be reckoned with.

Brütal Legend offers a wide array of mini-games for Eddy to do in the meantime, such as defending camps, and racing demons. These are a great way to earn Fire Tributes from the metal gods, which can used to purchase things at the store with the Guardian of Metal, such as weapon upgrades, car designs, new  moves, and other fun stuff. Another way to earn Fire Tributes are from finding secret items and monuments around the map or jumping certain gaps with Fireplugs floating over them. So, if you ever feel like not doing the story, there’s plenty of other things to do while playing.

Speaking of the story, I forgot to mention: it’s great! It’s highly entertaining, and gets quite dramatic at times, and never ceases to lose your attention. Characters are developed, and the plot becomes more and more interesting as you go. Aside from the main plot, certain actions can allow you to learn the history the the world and of the develop of Metal within the universe; essentially, the game creates it’s own mythology, such as the Fire Beast, Ormagöden, and it’s just as interesting as the main plot, if not more so.

Overall, this is an amazing game. Aside from the comedic commentary by Jack Black, Tim Curry, and of our classic Metal legends, the game offers a grabbing environment and an excellent plot with unchallengeable gameplay. In short, this game is not lacking in any aspect, except for maybe the short part; sadly the game isn’t terribly long, but it’s got so much in it that it’ll keep your attention for months. This game is a blessing from the Metal gods themselves, and deserves a headbanging 10/10 for perfect. So grab your guitar and get caught in a mosh as you play them awesome that is Brütal Legend. Until next time, this has been another game review by your friend and fellow headbanger, the Geek With Taste.

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