Brutal Legend Review
I rented this game amongst all the hype, and ended up keeping it for two weeks. I played the game considerably, and at this moment in time it is one of my “best games” on TA. Therefore I feel I have a relatively strong understanding of the game – that doesn’t translate to me being that good at the game however Single Player:
It’s best to start out with an explanation of this game’s storylilne. It is incredibly strong and is one of the focal points of this game, and therefore deserves significant attention. You’re a roadie (a person that does the behind the scenes works for music gigs), and you’re quickly shown to be in a time of tweenie boppers and pop music, devoid of the days of rock. Through a freak accident you are transferred to a different age, a different world even, where war is ravaging the country (or world, it’s never really truly that clear). When you quickly befriend some local humans you realize that the place is full of monsters, demons, and uncertainty. With your allies you mount an uprising, using rock and roll as a weapon to energize the masses, and take on the evil leader.
Now of course there is more to the game than that, but I wont do you the injustice of ruining the game’s storyline in totality for you. It can get a little confusing, but overall it is a focal point of the game, and extremely strong. The world is relatively open-ended, allowing you to choose to follow the main mission of the game (a total of about five hours or so) or participate in some of the side missions (a total around seventy of them or so). Doing these side missions are actually relevant – netting you points which you can spend with the legend of rock himself, Ozzie. You can use choose to use these upgrades on your character himself, an axe wielding fighter for rock, or on your vehicle, a dragster of destruction. There are other things to purchase as well, certain unlockables, but those are less relevant.
Your character clearly took a lot of time to develop. He is voiced by Jack Black, and the game make an effort to make sure you realize this. He looks relatively similar to him in real life (though adding a much more muscular physique) and they give him quite a few lines to say. They don’t half do this – they incorporate Jack deeply into the game, and with his death bringing axe, you get to have quite a lot of fun doing damage with him.
Now although the first part of the game makes use mostly of your personal axe-wielding skills, slaying monsters, and using your car to run over bad guys, the game becomes much more deep later on, which actually turned quite a few people off – but also got the attention of quite a few others. The game adds an RTS element to it – you have Stage Battles in which you build up your base, mining resources (which in this case is obtaining fans), and purchasing units in an attempt to destroy the opponent’s base, which is a stage. You can use your character, Jack, to help fight, but it’s impossible to ever win solely by yourself. The game has around four of these stage battles scattered through it, and it’s pretty difficult to get used to initially. I myself, am an avid Starcraft player, a relatively well known RTS, yet I still had to retry a couple of the stage battles. However, I got to watch some cool death scenes that other people might not ever see, which made it somewhat worth it.
The controls are relatively complex but make logical sense. When in a stage battle you have to use the D-Pad to choose what troops you want, and the bumpers to send units to certain areas. Your character is also equipped with special “song” abilities – such as Face Melter – which if used around enemies, literally melts their faces off. Successful use of these abilities is crucial to winning stage matches, as well as progressing through the regular gameplay. Each one has a recharge time and some require prerequisites and to be unlocked accordingly.
The world is open-ended, as I said before, and is divided into basically five main areas. The quickest way to get around is in your dragster which you unlock almost immediately after the beginning of the game. You can call it in at any time by playing a rock tune (Similar to the songs in Zelda: Ocarina of Time), which makes transportation around the world relatively easy. You can always bring up a mini-map with your pause button, and set yourself a marker, which will cause a burst of light to emanate from the sky on the place you want to go. I thought this could have been improved a little more by allowing you to place your market wherever you wanted – the game only allows you to place it on top of things it deems important (Main quest and side quest missions starts). This makes it much harder to do the extra parts of the game that I’ll get to later.
Now that you understand a bit, let me get into some more nitty-gritty. Although the main storyline was very innovative and fun, it was a bit predictable at times, while other times it was very confusing. There are a lot of plot twists that, I f you’re not paying attention to, you may get lost on the subtleties of. There is also a large unlockable back story that is only told to you if you find all the secret areas of the game. Only after hearing the final one, which I did way after I completed the main storyline, did I truly understand what was going on. Now to some people that might be nice – not being bombarded with tons of information and backstory, and having some metagaming to do – while to others it may appear as annoying and upsetting, since less than half the people will bother finding all the information. It’s a personal opinion.
My other main gripe was some of the RTS elements being unleashed so late into the game. Not an hour, not two hours, but almost three hours into the game is the first time you’re really introduced to the element, and to me this was way too late to be doing a tutorial. I had already become comfortable with the game’s atmosphere and gameplay and almost felt like I was being thrown into a pool without being able to swim. Although I got the hang of it, I was genuinely disappointed about this quick turn of events. Now of course there are going to be those of you who love RTS elements and those that don’t – and I take neither side. As someone that has liked RTS in the past (Starcraft) and hated it (Tom Clancy type games), I can see both sides of the argument. Therefore I will not be giving a score that relates whatsoever to there being RTS elements inside this game, and I hope you don’t grade my review on how it might appear I feel.
The side missions can become a bit redundant, but in redundancy comes understanding and skill.
There seemed to be three main types – racing (against the same opponent), defending an area on foot, or defending an area with your car. Although all of them were relatively fun the first three times each, I ended up just going “okay, here we go again” towards the end. There is another side mission – hunting missions – which require you to kill X amount of X animal in an unlimited amount of time. This one is nice in that they put no time limit on it, and you’re free to do main mission or other side missions while you are working on this, which makes it much less tedious. Sadly, you must realize where to start the mission, and if you don’t talk to the guy until towards the end of the game, it might feel like more of a chore. So it goes.
You can always go and have a stage battle against the computer as well in a free play stage battle mode if you find the desire to practice. You can put the computer on whatever difficulty you want. I’ll get more into this in the multiplayer section.
In the end I thought the storyline was strong, character development was great, and the on-foot fighting system was fun. I refuse to comment on whether I liked the RTS elements since I’m torn. It can be a little confusing, but an overall fun game, and humorous to say the least. Single Player Score: 9/10
The game has a solid online multiplayer system, in that you are competing in stage battles. After completing the game you’ll realize that there are three “races”, similar to a lot of RTS style games, each with their advantages and disadvantages. You can choose whatever one you want to be and take on a friend in a custom match or join a ranked game. The game is still relatively new and popular, which means a thriving online community. There are a substantial amount of multiplayer achievements related to the game, and quite a few achievements that almost require you to “set up the scenario” with a friend, which means a deep need for a boosting partner.
I’m not without complaints however. Quite a few times I was kicked out of the game due to network issues, and my friends report a lot of the same things. At times I would wait upwards of five minutes to find someone in searches, even though I was well aware that a couple of my friends were searching as well.
The game has a couple of multiplayer maps to choose from, and they are all slightly different in the amount of resources you can gather / length of the map / width of the map, etc. If you have more than one friend you can play with multiple online as well. A solid multiplayer experience except for the lag/connection issues that you might encounter.Multiplayer Score: 8/10
The sound in this game is quite easily the highlight. While curising around in your car in this relatively large open world, you’ll be able to put on the tunes of rock greats. My favorite was Mr. Crowley by the great Ozzie, but there are around twenty or so to choose from. You can choose what song you want to listen to by hitting the D-Pad while driving, and if you never touch it you will just go in sequence every time you get in and out of the car. In all honesty, it was this very reason, the music that played, that encouraged me to do the metagame of Brutal Legend, and I’ve talked to a few other people who had the same rationale. The music is brilliant, and a focal point of the game. They did not skimp out, and the cutscenes are good at incorporating them too.
The graphics are solid – not revolutionary, but in the top tier nonetheless. The cutscenes are extremely well done and relatively long, and considering there is one before each of the side-missions that means that they programmed around a hundred cutscenes. That being said, you’ll see a couple repeats during the side-missions that might get a little repetitive. Even with that though, the physics engine and graphics are indeed, very solid, and at the top of the 360’s game.
They just released relatively new DLC for this game that increases not only the amount of achievements, but also hands out quite a few new maps and weapons/abilities. Although it does come with a price tag, if you’re heavily into the RTS battle multiplayer style, and aren’t experiencing the lag/connection issues I previously commented on, it might be worth your Microsoft points.
The intangibles of this game helped cement the game in my mind as something they spent a lot of time on. There are subtitltes that are very easy to activate, and a difficulty selection before you start the storyline of the game. When you finish the main storyline you are allowed to explore the world as you see fit, and all the side missions are available to you. They throw collectibles into the game, but they have a direct impact on the game’s upgrade system, which doesn’t make them useless and tedious like the Assassins’ Creed flags might have been viewed as. The game doesn’t force you to do any particular task in much of any order at all, which really lends well to the free play atmosphere, while not allowing you to accidently fight a boss you aren’t ready for yet. A solid experience overall.
The ability to play the computer in mock stage battles only increases the value of the game. It means that even once the online community does go dead, if it does, you still have the potential to challenge yourself. Being able to put it on a difficulty that matches your mood and personal skill only highlights this feature. There is also much credit needed for any game that uses RTS features in finding a balance between races and units – not making one overpowered or underpowered. Although I by no means consider myself a master of any of the races, I could see the potential advantages and disadvantages of each, and could act approrpriately.Graphics/DLC/Sound/Intangibles Score – 10/10
I applaud this game’s achievements to an extent. They do well in putting an achievement in for each part of the storyline you complete, and one for completing the game on the difficulty you select (plus stacking), which means you can finish the game with around 375 points or so, doing nothing extra but playing the main storyline. Then the game throws in achievements for completing all of the side missions, hunter missions, and finding all the collectibles in the game, which total a significant amount.
Then you’ll see your generic online achievements – X amount of online games. And lastly you’ll see your kill X units in X ways. Now while some of these are very easy (killing guys with your axe or roadster), others are virtually impossible in game. Sure, you COULD encircle all those guys with the fire barons double team in the game, but you’d have to have the foresight for that exact moment in time, and a bit of luck. This means that you’ll most likely have to get these achievements with a boosting partner online, with one of the players setting up the scenario.
Although it’s nice that they allow you to get these certain achievements online, it also makes me feel that they realized how unlikely you would be to get these achievements in main storyline play. I don’t get any extra joy from boosting a game, or having to set up a boosting session, and that detracted from the experience a bit. However, overall excellent achievements in encouraging you to explore every facet of the game.Achievements Score: 9/10
Total Score: 36/40 = 9/10 = 4.5/5
Please remember that my score was intended to not comment on the RTS elements of the game at all – I neither loved it nor hated it, due to my personal preference, so please don’t read my review trying to find my “subtle clues” on how exactly I felt. The game is incredibly strong in DLC, Achievements, Sound, and Graphics, as well as the Intangibles, which, when included with a strong storyline, makes this game a must play if you don’t mind those RTS elements I constantly mention.If you disagree with my opinion, or feel I misrepresented something, I ask of you to please leave a comment instead of negative feedback. I’m interested in improving my reviews at all time, and I take a significant amount of time on each one. If you feel I didn’t improve it within a day, then your negative feedback is deserved.