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Instant Impressions: Brutal Legend

September 25, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

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When the hype around Brutal Legend started, I have to admit I was pretty skeptical.  Based on a band roadie’s trip to metal hell (or heaven?), it seemed like a good idea but a little cartoony and I usually take an “I’ll believe it when I see it” attitude when a brand new franchise gets a lot of publicity.  Overall though, after playing the demo I’d say that Brutal Legend is a pretty good time, and if you’re a metal fan like me there’s even more to like.

You’re able to play the entire first chapter in the demo and it gives you a solid sense of what the game offers.  It begins with an opening cinema with your character Eddie Riggs (voiced by Jack Black) lurking in the shadows backstage just before the band he works for begins their show.  Eddie is a world-class roadie, but the band members don’t seem to give him much respect.  As they dive into their generic rap/metal tunes on stage, Eddie and another roadie yearn for the good old days of rock music.  

Suddenly the guitarist attempts to climb the gigantic background set piece Eddie has constructed for them, and only Eddie’s swift reaction saves him from tumbling to his death.  Unfortunately as Eddie slinks back into darkness the set falls directly on top of him.  He wakes up in a hellish world with red-robed figures brandishing swords, strange rituals, and architecture built entirely from skulls and bones.

The robed figures quickly attack, and that’s when the player takes control.  After being chased you find a large axe that gives you the ability to hack and slash in the classic fashion we’re all familiar with.  Soon after though, you find your guitar and upon jamming out a few chords Eddie realizes the power of metal can also strike down his enemies.  You can then press A to play electric guitar and sling bolts of lightning from above at your enemies.  

This is the basic combat setup, allowing your guitar to do the work and switching to the axe when necessary.  You also acquire combos along the way and if you’ve played Castle Crashers I can tell you the system is pretty much the same.  As you progress through the game it pauses to make you aware of new combos you’re now able to do.  Ground pounds and furious guitar solos are just some of the ways you can take down enemies.

Eventually you meet a female companion who’s also trying to “restore humanity,” although Eddie’s still not sure if that’s what he’s here to do or not.  You can press Y for a team up move that allows her to jump on your back and be thrown with swords swirling as she flies through the air.  You also assemble a hot road that lets you zoom around the landscape and run over enemies as well.  

All the while you’re treated to an awesome heavy metal soundtrack featuring no less than acts like Ozzy Osbourne right from the get go.  I’m not a huge Jack Black fan, but the game really does play as if he was in charge of every single detail (he wasn’t).  If you know anything about his goofy antics and love for metal music you already have a pretty clear picture of how this game plays.  There’s also some really heavy language that you can turn on or off, and either way the dialogue is humorous and well-written from the little I’ve heard.

The promotional video that plays after the demo ends is probably just as telling as the demo itself as far as what to expect.  You’ll trek across all kinds of different landscapes, fly with demon wings, and meet some really awesome metal personalities (Ozzy, Lemmy from Motorhead, etc.).  

Overall I have to say the demo sold me personally.  The gameplay is solid even though there’s nothing ground-breaking, and the aesthetics give the game a unique appeal that people with a certain taste will gravitate towards.  If you’re looking for a light-hearted action game with adult overtones it’s worth a look, especially if you’re a fan of hard rock and/or metal.

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