Monday, December 7, 2009

Brutal Legend - A Strange Mix With A Great Story

I haven't updated in awhile - great new games are coming out fast, I went to Dallas for a few weeks for know, screw the excuses, let's just start catching up.

Brutal Legend is a heavy metal hybrid action/real time strategy game that tells the story of roadie Eddie Riggs, who finds himself cast into some bygone age where everything looks like an epic metal album cover. He starts out with an axe and a guitar, one for slashing enemies in melée, the other for rocking a few riffs from a distance, bringing bolts of lightning down on his target. The guitar also can play a few speciality riffs in a sort of sideways Guitar Hero-esque button sequence, with varying effects such as summoning Eddie's heavy metal hot rod.

The countryside opens up in stages, with plenty of side missions to explore, either on foot, by hot rod, or by riding around on the back of some of the wildlife. Most side missions are the same, but there are a few exceptions. The hack and slash action is a blast, as is the story that unfolds as you play. After awhile, the band of rebels you're traveling with goes on tour, and the gameplay changes to large real time strategy stage battles. Eddie, as a roadie should, manages these battles like a concert, creating and deploying units and managing things around the battlefield.

It's quite a shift in the gameplay tempo that works surprisingly well. It's frantic and challenging, and accessable even to someone like me who does not play those sort of games. Brutal Legend pulls this risky gameplay mishmash off seamlessly, and the player from this point out moves between the two genres as the genuinely brilliant heavy metal story unfolds.

The open world remains accessable as the main story plays out, and after the game is won. This allows the player to finish side missions and collection quests, including those that upgrade weapons and the hot rod, and most importantly add songs to the awesome metal soundtrack. The hot rod had a radio tuned into this soundtrack and I found myself taking the long way to my destination just so a classic song would finish.

Brutal Legend is a bold and refreshingly unique game that succeeds on a lot of levels. It's not perfect, but the fantastic story and the surprisingly fun gameplay brought a smile to this former headbanger's face.

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