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PS3 Review – Brütal Legend

November 5, 2009 Written by Adam Wolfe

The highly anticipated game from Double Fine, Brütal Legend, has finally hit store shelves, but does this heavy metal game live up to the hype, or does the weight of high expectations and hype bring it crashing to the ground?

Brütal Legend follows the adventure of Eddy Riggs, a roadie for a less-than-metal heavy metal band. Though he is their roadie, he can’t help but feel like he is living in the wrong time and wishes for a time when heavy metal is king.

At one of the band’s shows, there is an accident with a stage prop, which injures Eddy and unleashes a beast onto the stage that destroys the band and transports Eddy back into the past.

When Eddy comes to, he discovers that this world is very different from his own, and metal encompasses everything in the world. While fighting through hordes of demons, he comes into contact with a woman named Ophelia. Ophelia is a part of a rebellion which strives for freedom but lacks an army and the self confidence that is necessary to stage an uprising. It is now up to Eddy to build an army and lead them into battle so that the human race can be free from their demon overlord.

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When Eddy enters this world, he discovers an ax which he surprisingly can use with great skill. He also gets a guitar that can cause lightning and fire to strike his enemies, and can also be used with special relics to call up a vehicle, melt the faces of enemies or simply give power to armies. These weapons and Eddie’s leadership will take the player on a journey through snow covered mountains, haunted graveyards, and everything in between.

The gameplay in Brütal Legend is quite varied, from racing, to hack and slash, to RTS; it has a little bit of everything. The player starts in a hub world–an open world where players can accept missions, interact with environments, and just cruise around admiring the landscape. The map is littered with side missions ranging from races with the locals, to fighting waves of enemies, and even some hunting missions to capture some of the unique creatures that inhabit this world.

There are also plenty of collectibles and secrets to find, like Motor Forges, which will upgrade the vehicle as well as the weapons. There are also vista points which give a great perspective of the unique structures in the landscape, special jumps, bound serpents which will increase the player’s health when freed, and legend stones that will give a glimpse of how this world came to be.

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Besides the side missions and collectibles, there are also the main story missions. These start out as simple hack and slash missions with the occasional boss fight. About a third of the way through the game, however, the missions become more like an RTS.

The battlefield is laid out with the player beginning on his stage, which is his main fortress. This is where new recruits will spawn from and ultimately what the enemies want to destroy. In order to upgrade the stage, as well as get new recruits,  the player will need fans. Within each battlefield there are holes in the ground which spirits are coming out of. These spirits are fans that need to be captured by building merch booths over the top of them. Once enough fans have been collected, the player can start to recruit the army and upgrade the stage.

The first few RTS stages are pretty easy, but once a few missions have been completed, new kinds of troops will become available, making the game more complex. Unfortunately, the learning curve rises steeply, and the AI will not take it easy on players. However, once players learn to effectively manage their army, use the right troops for each situation, and use guitar solos effectively, it becomes a lot of fun and pretty rewarding to win a battle.

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The graphics for this game are very good–it stays away from a very realistic look, instead going for a heavy metal art style. The textures are smooth, the environments are gorgeous, and the amount of creativity that went into every nook and cranny of this game is obvious. The sound in this game is equally as good. The voice acting is top notch, with Jack Black providing an excellent voice over for Eddy Riggs. The rest of cast is also composed of pretty well known actors as well as a few heavy metal legends. The soundtrack for this game is also top notch–unsurprisingly, it is all heavy metal and features such artists as Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne and Megadeath. With the art style, voice acting and music soundtrack, this game screams metal from every orifice.

This game has a lot of good points, but there are some negatives. The biggest would probably be the RTS portion of the game. This was a complete surprise for this game, and most players will not expect to see this type of gameplay. The RTS segments are not bad, but the adjustment to these unexpected missions can be difficult.

The whole game is in the third person, as are the RTS missions.  In these battles, the player still controls Eddy, so it is up to the player to move him around the battlefield, have the army follow him, tell the soldiers where to attack, and then attack with Eddy himself. This gets pretty taxing from time to time, especially when trying to remember to use guitar solos that can aid the army. All that being said, once the player learns to manage all this, it becomes a lot more fun and rewarding, but it is still an unexpected addition which could be a turn off to a lot of gamers. RTS elements very rarely work on a console, and a third person view makes it even more difficult.

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Brutal Legend is a decent game.The story is entertaining, the characters, environments and music are top notch, and the amount of hidden objects and side missions should keep players coming back for more. Even though the RTS portions of the game can be rough and sometimes downright frustrating, they have the potential to become a lot of fun. Players are recommended to try one of the RTS portions before buying the game, but this is a definite rental just to see this cool world  and the people and creatures that inhabit it.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

Top notch visuals and sound

Lots of replay value

RTS portions can be frustrating

5 out of 10