Wednesday, November 4

Reloaded Review: Brutal Legend

So we are coming up on a month now and Double Fine, and Tim Schafers opus to heavy metal has sold roughly 370,000 copies worldwide on both PS3, and XBOX360 combined. So this isn't bad for most games but for a game that has garnered a metacritic score of 84 and 8.5-9,s on various other sites those sales #,s seem a bit low. Maybe its has to do with going up against titans like Uncharted 2, Halo ODST, and sleepers like Demon's Souls which came out of nowhere with a brilliant new online concept to suck buyers in. The ultimate question in this review is. Does Brutal Legend deserve all these high reviews that it has been getting?

The Good

Story- Brutal Legend is the story of a roadie named Eddie sucked back in time by a metal beast to a land ruled by demons where all the triumphs of the past have been forgotten. The story is superb especially if you are a Metal fan like myself, but even if you don't particularly care for the musical genre Schafer and team do an excellent job of keeping you interested in the storyline and wanting to figure out what happens next.

Voice Acting- This is possibly one of the best cast ever assembled for a video game for starters. Jack Black truly makes you care about Eddy and the journey he is on. This isnt "Nacho Libre" over the top Black, in Brutal Legend he keeps things toned enough not to annoy but manages to be fun and interesting at the same time. Supporting characters such as Ozzy Osborn as the diseminator of upgrades Tim Curry as the main baddy also adds a bit of comic relief and everyone else involved from Lita Ford to Lemey Kilmister also do a great job.
Graphics- Although not the best graphics we have seen this generation BR stand holds its own in polish. There is however the art style and set pieces that really add to the world and make it pop. Creature design is unique as well as the landscape and buildings none of which have that pasted on set piece feel to them.

Selectable language and Gore- This is a pretty neat feature as it allows the language and gore setting to be parental controlled and essentially changes an M rated game into a T Rated game.

The Bad

Game-play- Here is where things take a turn for the worse. You essentially have three different genres crammed into one game which in some cases maybe its a good idea but here that isn't the case. First we have the hack and slash aspect of the game and at first glance it seems as though this aspect is going to be rather fun but it never quite evolves. Granted there are combo and ability aspect but I never got the feeling that they added any increased strength to Eddy. For Example you start out the game fighting druids and it takes about 3-5 hits to dispatch these suckers and then you don't see them again until the very last level at which time you are essentially fully upgraded and they still take 3-5 hits to dispatch but give no indication that they should be any stronger than the original druids you had to dispatch. Like most hack and slash games this aspect can get boring even if you are given new combos to play with and maybe that is why they added in the other two genres.

The second genre is driving and this is in my opinion the funnest and actually best fighting strategy as well in the game. As I mentioned the world design is quite intriguing and well designed so you will enjoy driving around checking out things here and there but only for so long. Yet again as with the hack and slash upgrades the car upgrades never give much of a sense of improvement. Even with max performance upgrade I never felt like I was going any faster than I was when I began the game. The weaponry upgrades give a bit more gratification but all and all the entire leveling system seems rushed.

Finally we get to the RTS aspect of the game which is frustrating at best. The characters you control are fantastic but the interface and operation of the interface is just frustrating. The character AI seems stupid at times. For example you get wings during these sections of the game but the ability to select certain units while in this mode is tough to execute and half the time you will have units going to the wrong target, of which there are many to defend. Ultimately even though the control of characters is frustrating its not hard and I only had to restart once throughout all the boss battles in the game because I was outnumbered. Yet again as with the other two game-play genres it just feels a bit rushed.

Length- This game is short. I finished the entire main campaign in about 7 hrs. Granted this 7 hours is not 100% complete but that leads to another issue. Although the world is nice to look at the side missions are repetitive and since the leveling system is broke there really is no reason to go back and find every little treasure or complete all the side missions. Once the story is over the game just becomes boring after time and since the RTS section is so flawed the multi-player section doesn't add much to the re-playability.

Its a shame that consumers didn't financially except Schafers last game "Psychonaugts" which was a great game in itself with polished game-play and story because I think it led the review community to over hype and score this game. Also attributing to that is the death of Clover Studios-Okami and BG&E which were all critically acclaimed but commercially unaccepted. I would definitely play this game again in the future but I can not justify a 8-9/10 but maybe a 7 because I am a fan of the Metal genre and the story was really good. That being said hopefully I look forward to the next innovation to come from Double Fine because the industry is desperate for innovation. You cant just keep pumping out FPS after FPS and Madden every year and keep this juggernaut going.

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