‘Brutal Legend’ Slashes the right notes

Brutal Legend

From the eccentric mind of Tim Schafer and the staff of Double Fine studios comes Brutal Legend, a game of heavy metal and mayhem for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Schafer and his team, whose last release was the sleeper-hit Psychonauts in 2005, wanted to create a game that brought the feel of heavy metal music to life. Brutal Legend is the tale of roadie Eddie Riggs, modeled and voiced by Jack Black, and his arrival in a fantasy universe where he must save the oppressed from the evil Emperor Doviculus. Along the way he makes several allies including some real life musicians such as Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead.

Perhaps the strongest part of Brutal Legend is the story. The dialogue is written well and the cinematics are clever and entertaining, providing certain details to push the story along. There are many jokes regarding metal music in general that add to the feel of the game. Gameplay is comprised of a variety of different styles. Most of the game is either hack and slash action or periodic strategy battles where Eddie commands troops and must destroy his opponent’s "stage" or base. He can even perform double team attacks with each kind of troop. There are some driving and shooting segments that work well when they occur, as do the interestingly designed boss encounters. Eddie can also unlock upgrades for either his axe or guitar such as fire and lightning versions, as well as car upgrades like armor and weapons. Unique to the game are the "solo" powers such as the "Facemelter" which actually melts enemies’ faces off. Unfortunately one problem with the gameplay is the lack of a jump button, which is greatly appreciated in these kinds of games.

To round out the single player campaign, there is an online multiplayer mode,which mimics the strategy battles used in the story. Players can assume the role of any of three factions, each with its own strengths, weaknesses, and unique powers and double team attacks. As for single player replay value, there are many collectibles to seek out such as landmark viewers that provide interesting views of the environment, dragon statues which award upgrade points, and altars that teach new attacks. Another fine addition is the music score, which includes over 100 songs the player can unlock from such bands as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Black’s own band Tenacious D. Overall, Brutal Legend is a fresh idea that will most likely get a sequel. Hopefully the few problems will be fixed, but until then, this is a solid game that can be enjoyed by almost anyone.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5