games / Previews

Brutal Legend (Xbox 360) Preview

September 28, 2009 | Posted by Adam Larck

Tim Schafer has had quite a few great games in the past. From Psychonauts to Grim Fandango to helping write the few two Monkey Island games, he has a lot of credentials. Now, though, his newest game is going to the metal side of things.

To start off with, Brutal Legend starts off with an interesting opening screen. While most screens are bland, this one uses an actual vinyl record cover and record to give the different options. For the demo, the only ones that are available are New Game and Options. I also like the choice of difficulty here. Instead of just Easy, Normal and Hard, we are given Gentle, Normal and Brutal. It’s just a nice touch to keep in the tone of the game.

Once you select the mode you want, you finally get introduced to Eddie Riggs, who is voiced by Jack Black. Riggs is a roadie that dies in the opening cutscene while trying to save a member of the “metal” band he works for. I do say metal with quotations, because there about as metal as any of the teenage rock bands out there right now.

The cutscene also introduces an interesting way to find out if you want cursing and gore in the game. Right as Riggs gets ready to drop the first f-bomb, the game asks if you want to “hear every nasty syllable” or if you think “it’s funnier if you bleep it out.” Similarly, the game then asks if you want to see gore “only when it really would look very awesome” or just have “no gore, please!” when the fire demon gets ready to destroy the band. For the demo, I of course, chose yes to both.

Anyways, after the cutscene ends and Riggs is transported to the land of metal, he gets attacked by a group of druids. This is when he finds his axes, both of which he picks up by pressing Y, which interacts with objects. One of which is an actual axe, The Separator, while the other is his guitar, Clementine, that shoots lightning or fire depending on how long X is held down. The power cannot be used infinitely, though, and the guitar turns red as it starts to overheat.

The combat is relatively simple. You can repetitively tap A to do combos with the actual axe, or hold A to do an unblockable smash attack. Both A and X can be used to string combos to juggle and launch enemies or, if hit at the same time, does the move Earthshaker which knocks enemies back and can literally destroy environments, depending on the area. Also, you can hold B to block or to dodge if you are locked on to an enemy. The combat is nothing innovative, but works well for the game.

Aside from the Drones, other enemies that are seen in the demo include a “battle nun” which can summon other drones to fight, “crazy legs” that you drive around midway through the game, and a giant worm that you fight before the demo ends. It’s disappointing that there isn’t a few more different enemies to see in the demo, but, from what I’ve seen in the trailers, there are plenty of enemies in the game.

Also in the demo you meet Ophelia, a female ally that wields twin daggers. You can do a double team attack with various allies you’ll meet in the game. For Ophelia, by going up to her and pressing Y, Riggs will grab her and throw her at enemies.

After meeting Opehila and fighting a few more enemies, you then get introduced to the solo system. By holding RT at certain areas and selecting a solo (it looks like there will be 12 to choose from in the full game) you enter a very simple solo before summoning something special. In the demo, you select Relic Raiser, hit four buttons to perform a solo and then you can build your car from parts that rise out of the ground.

The car, called either The Deuce or Druid Plow, handles pretty well. It comes with a boost and hand break that comes in handy during the boss battle, and is pretty handy to run enemies over with. However, I do hope that they make it so that you can’t take the car everywhere. It just seemed too easy to just run enemies over instead of getting out and fighting.

The graphics in this game are good. They keep a kind of cartoony feel (think of the same kind of design that Guitar Hero has). Enemies are interesting to see for the first time, and the environments look simply amazing. While you only see a small amount of the land here, the trailers have shown quite a bit of varied areas.

Now, one thing I haven’t mentioned so far is the sound. That’s because I wanted to give it a section to itself.

The commentary in the game is great. Black does a great job in the game as Riggs adding the right amount of comedy to the part. After all, this game is not meant to be taken that seriously. I especially like his metal prayer when trying to control a giant walking creature going downhill and his talk of the end about French kissing. I’ve only heard a small bit of what the game has to offer, but this game could offer some of the best (and funniest) dialog that has been heard this year.

As you’ve probably seen, the music in this game is all metal. And I mean ALL metal. Considering that’s what the game is based on, I didn’t expect anything less. It works great for this game, and is fun to listen to in the background.

Overall, Brutal Legend looks to be a great action/adventure game. Schafer has once again done a great job with a unique gameplay idea. This game is definitely worth a look when it releases on Rocktober 13.


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Adam Larck
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