My thoughts on Brutal Legend
May 12, 2015

I recently forced myself through Brutal Legend. No, I didn't beat the game. I made it to the penultimate stage, grew tired of the tacked on RTS segments, and decided to call it a day. I've also decided that I'm not writing a proper review of the title for one reason: I'm tired of penning crits of middling games. Instead, I've opted to upchuck my random thoughts on the title here, in no particular order except that the positive comments come first. Then I shall slap on a non-numerical summary rating thingie and call it good.

---The Positive---

-It's definitely a relic of metal culture, and I don't mean that modern post-metalcore, Asking Alexandria stuff that passes for metal these days. I mean good old Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Riot, Motorhead and the like. The game not only features a killer soundtrack with awesome old school songs (and a few "newer" cuts, like "Her Ghost in the Fog" by Cradle of Filth), but also "appearances" from a few monsters of metal, namely: Ozzy as the Guardian of Metal (who looks exactly like Ozzy), Lita Ford as a KISS-ish jungle queen, Lemmy Kilmister (and his likeness) as the warrior/mystic Kill Master, and Rob Halford as not only a hair metal-inspired villain, but basically himself--clad in the usual "gay biker from the '80s" apparel--leading a rebellious group of bikers called Fire Barons. Needless to say, everything above was enough to make me squeal like a teenage girl.

-There are some attempts at comedy that don't fall completely flat or feel forced.

-The open world resembles your average heavy metal album, decked out with a savage wasteland and a dramatically-colored sky. Basically, you feel like you're exploring something from the cover of a Dio or Blind Guardian album.

-You can play solos (read: engage in short QTEs) to raise relics, erect towers during the RTS modes that rally "fans" (spiritual entities that you can extract from the ground so as to create more troops), or even give buffs to your army.

---The Negative---

-The combat is really, reeeeeeeeaaaaallly trite and boring. You can mash attack to repeatedly hack away at your opponents using your guitar-axe, or play some chords to summon fire or lightning. Choosing the latter causes your instrument to overheat, though. Bottom line: you basically mash attack buttons until things die, and occasionally block or dodge. The particular attacks are neither elaborate or interesting nor all that entertaining to watch.

-The open world, though appropriately styled, is pretty dull. Your standard GTA-ish trappings make appearances, including races, insane jumps, and minor side missions, but all in all exploration is pretty tedious. There isn't much in the way of neat scenery like Skyrim, the side missions don't hold a candle to the Saints Row games (well, 2-4 anyway), and the exploration factor pales in the comparison to just about any other open world game. I would actually compare this to Dying Light, only instead of a ho-hum urban environment, Brutal Legend sports a yawn-worthy wasteland setting.

-The RTS segments are not in any way enjoyable. At best, they're tolerable, and that's when you aren't having to spend eons building up an army that's just going to die in a few moments when you send the bulk of it on a suicide mission. Every strategic level is pretty much the same, too. You either fight off an invading army or send troops to destroy a target. You can easily overwhelm the computer by gunning right for the resources and playing a few solos. What's worse is if you happen to lose after putting in nearly an hour of work, and then having to start the whole process over again.

-Ultimately, the game consists of a combination of mediocre action and watered down RTS elements, which give the game an under developed feel. Honestly, I would rather the devs canned the RTS junk, focused on combat, and made missions that were memorable, a la Saints Row: The Third. I mean, the game is already ridiculous. Why not go balls out like SR3? Instead, it felt like Double Fine was more focused on creating a piece of metal culture than a good video game that happens to ooze metal style.

Awesome, Crappy, or Meh?

It's definitely MEH. At least it didn't have any technical flaws. The worst I can say about Brutal Legend is that it's boring, but that's something I shouldn't say about a heavy metal-inspired piece of work.

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honestgamer honestgamer - May 12, 2015 (10:07 AM)
Funny story, sort of: when Brutal Legend was initially announced, it was coming from Sierra, now owned by Activision (and I think owned by Activision even at that time). There was a special preorder incentive if you were one of the first 666 to preorder the game: a limited edition t-shirt. So I preordered the game. It then kept getting delayed, for months at a time. Gamestop sent me my t-shirt, which I haven't opened yet (it came in a box). Time wore on. The Sierra version never happened and my order was eventually canceled, shortly before the EA-published edition released in stores. I eventually bought the game really cheap, kept it for a few years, then sold it. I thought I might have recently picked it up during a Humble Bundle for PC, but I just checked now and apparently I didn't. So I own the limited edition t-shirt, but have never actually played the game and only owned it for a short time after buying it from a bargain bin.
EmP EmP - May 12, 2015 (01:35 PM)
I played an hour of Brutal. I didn't even get into the RTS bits, and I was already sick of it.
overdrive overdrive - May 12, 2015 (03:29 PM)
I like video games and I like heavy metal, so I'd always looked at this game as something I'd probably play down the line at some point. After reading this, guh. No thanks. I'll just listen to my metal while playing something more enjoyable.
JoeTheDestroyer JoeTheDestroyer - May 14, 2015 (02:17 AM)
Jason: I was in kind of a similar situation, at least in terms of having an article of clothing for a game I hadn't played. My mother-in-law bought me Brutal Legend sleep pants for Christmas one year. I wore them now and then, despite having not played the game then.

EmP: I've been there with a handful of titles. Lucidity on Steam springs to mind... There's nothing worse than paying for something and finding out it's not at all the right fit.

OD: That's what I would recommend. Maybe some day there will be a metal-inspired action game that will actually be worth playing. For some reason, I always figured a European-developed survival horror game based on a King Diamond album would be the first to pop up.

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