Brütal Legend Preview

Written by Joe Martin

May 1, 2009 | 09:04

Tags: #brutal-legend #jack-black #metal #music #tim-schafer

Companies: #double-fine #electronic-arts

Rock Out!

The bulk of Brütal Legend’s story focuses on slowly recruiting soldiers for Lars’s human resistance – something Eddie and Ophelia generally have to accomplish on their own as Lars is far too busy being all charismatic and blonde for most of the game. Damned hippy.

Eddie has obviously had a lot of experience handling the fans of such charismatic frontmen though and he knows that a good following will be both large and diverse, so he sets out to recruit as varied and massive a fanbase as he can.

Eddie starts off the army by liberating a tribe of head-bangers from a glam-metal demon called General Lionwhyte (who’s voiced by Rob Halford of Judas Priest). Lionwhyte, who is second in command to the archdemon Doviculus, has been controlling the headbangers using mind-controlling music that forces them to mine for him by banging their heads on cliff walls.

Naturally though, when Eddie roams into the mine with a guitar slung over his back he’s quickly able to subvert Lionwhyte’s mental conditioning and the headbangers bring their genetically reinforced skulls over to the side of justice, freedom and long blonde hair.

Brütal Legend Preview Brütal Legend Preview - Impressions
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With the headbangers quickly recruited, Eddie finds himself in charge of a squad of rockers that he can easily boss around by throwing up the horns and telling the hipsters where to go. The headbangers are the most basic of all Eddie’s possible followers, but they make very effective melee units and Eddie can effortlessly command an apparently unlimited number of them. All he needs to do is strum on the guitar and call his brethren to him.

As Eddie progresses through the story of Brütal Legend he’s able to recruit new and different types of rocker to the cause, including a hillbilly rocker who takes up the position as driver of the Tourbus of Destruction.

While we didn’t get a chance to see it in action, Schafer did hint towards the idea that the end of the game would be a much more large-scale battle than anyone was expecting too, nodding sagely at the proposed notion of a literal army of metalheads being lead into battle by Eddie and Lars. Having seen some of the huge boss battles first hand, we’re positive the engine can handle the strain of such an event.

Brütal Legend Preview Brütal Legend Preview - Impressions
Click to enlarge

Honestly though, we still do have to admit having some concerns about Brütal Legend, no matter how grand-scale the final battle is. Without meaning to poo-poo what is undoubtedly one of the funniest games we’ve played since Portal, it’s hard to get away from the fact that the gameplay isn’t as original as the setting. Upgradeable vehicles and unlockable combos are all very well and good, but they aren’t exactly unique in the world of computer games and that’s a little disappointing considering how hugely imaginative the story is.

Then again, the unusual thing about Brütal Legend is that the moment-to-moment gameplay probably isn’t the main attraction for most potential customers. Instead, it’s the story and characters within that make Brütal Legend stand out from the crowds of other third-person action adventures. If you’re mainly interested in a super-fluid, super-speedy and super-gory brawler with a sense of cinematic drama then, admittedly, you may be better off playing something like Devil May Cry. If you’re more interested in experiencing a fresh, eclectic and perfectly realised story that replaces the drama with a razor sharp wit then you’d be better off with Brütal Legend.

Third-person action games with evil-looking enemies and suspicious amounts of side-boob are a dime a dozen. Games that can cross the gap of musical taste and leave you laughing out loud for minutes on end are a lot more rare – and lot more special.

Brütal Legend will be published by Electronic Arts on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 this October.
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