Brutal Legend Review

Like metal music, Tim Schafer’s latest game, Brutal Legend, really is a love it or hate it endeavor. For all of the great things Double Fine has done — one of the best and most entertaining characters this generation, a hilarious script, a unique setting, great music — the often generic gameplay and usually boring RTS elements take the game from “could have been an instant classic” to “will likely end up an overrated cult hit.”

Brutal Legend is the story of Eddie Riggs, the greatest roadie the world has ever seen. Unfortunately, Eddie is the roadie for a pop-metal band, and for a true metalhead like him it’s not the best of situations. Like all great roadies, it’s up to Eddie to make the band look good, make sure everything works, and never be seen. This causes a problem when one of the band members decides to climb Eddie’s set, and ends up perilously hanging from a jutting portion of it. Eddie acts quick, saves him, but then is smashed by the collapsing monument to the metal gods. It looks like the end of Eddie, until he’s transported to an alternate world where metal is the name of the game.

The world Eddie ends up in is, as the name implies, brutal. An evil ruler has subjugated the land, and a small band of fighters are trying to regain freedom. Being a Tim Schafer game, I expected a heavy dose of comedy, but what’s offered in Brutal Legend is so much more.

Brutal Legend

In terms of the writing and story, Brutal Legend is one of the best games I’ve played. The story is engaging, the characters are all entertaining, the jokes are hilarious; it’s just top tier stuff, no doubt about it. With talents like Jack Black and several metal gods providing voices in the game, it’s also no surprise that the voice acting is also some of the best I’ve experienced.

Sadly, the gameplay and the game’s mechanics don’t quite measure up to the lofty expectations set by the writing and narrative. A hybrid action RPG and RTS, Brutal Legend tries to do it all, but falls short in most areas. The general third-person combat performed by Eddie Riggs is the highlight of the gameplay, with violent and entertaining combos, but even that falls short when compared to other hack-n-slash titles this generation.

What really hurts the game, in my opinion, are the RTS portions. With Brutal Legend, Double Fine tried to make a combination gameplay title, which is always a challenge. In this game, though, the entertainment comes from the story, the setting, and the frantic swinging of Eddie’s axe; the RTS gameplay takes away all of that. It turns the game from an entertaining, brutal epic into a bogged down, simplistic RTS adventure.

In the first few hours of the game, the RTS portions are more of an option than a requirement. You have a squad of headbangers (Ironheade) you can command to attack, defend, mosh pit (form a circle around you), etc. They help you clear some missions, you’ll use them to fight a few bosses — but you still smash and slash stuff. As you move on through the game, though, the focus is less on Eddie fighting, and more on Eddie issuing orders to a slew of units as you battle the enemy for control points. When there was a healthy mix of the third-person action and the light RTS, I loved Brutal Legend. But once RTS became the main focus, it began to drag for me. I finished it purely for the story, grinding through the final portions.

If you’re a fan of great stories in games, give Brutal Legend a try. Perhaps you’ll enjoy the simplistic RTS elements more than I. Maybe you won’t be as bothered with the shortcomings of the sandbox-styled open world (no mini-map, no jump, no quick way to get from A to B, etc.). What I can tell you is that you’ll fall in love with the world Schafer and the rest of Double Fine created, and you’ll find yourself genuinely feeling for the characters’ plight. Brutal Legend had a legit chance of being one of the best games this generation. Instead, what we get is a game with fantastic writing but lackluster gameplay, and a dejected feeling when we imagine the Brutal Legend that could have been.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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