Brutal Legend for Xbox 360 Impressions

So this week I got my hot little hands on Brutal Legend, a game with big aspirations, amazing visual style, and a hype machine that’s been steadily building once everyone’s eyeballs were finally graced with viewing this piece of eye-candy. I want to say I love this game, but it has two major, and one minor,  flaws that sort of spoiled it for me.

But let’s start with the good. It’s chock full of awesome, metal sounds, it drips style, and it has great voice acting that is fun and humorous, reminiscent of the old Lucasarts adventure games. In addition it has a fun beat’em up aspect that evolves into a competent real-time strategy game that is high on action. Imagine Dynasty Warriors game where you built units, the combat was less repetitive and you had a plethora of buffs and powers at your disposal, that’s what the game’s RTS action is like. This RTS battle game is what the multiplayer is built on, and from trying the single player, I think this is poised to be successful if it keeps up a following. It’s definitely a new game in town for Xbox 360 play.

Now for the bad. The single player campaign is short. (And I did every single side mission too.) I managed to finish the entire campaign in one sitting. Granted it was a very long sitting, but one sitting? That’s pretty insane. I really got the feeling that the last “act” as it were got chopped off. There’s a huge build up to your battle with the demon lord Doviculus’ army, only to have one full-scale RTS battle with him and his hordes, followed by the boss battle with him. Really? You also fight him in the same place you beat the previous faction. While I guess that did help some plot points I was really looking forward to the triumphant march to Doviculus’ new home base on the map, only to be disappointed. Really, you spend more time going after the faction before Doviculus’ demons than you do Doviculus himself.

There’s also a plot point so dumb it makes me want to bang my head, but not in a good way. I’m not going to spoil it for you but there is a name that’s dropped that by the big bad guy that causes a big to do in the hero’s team of Ironheade. Interesting, right? No, because one of the main characters has said name written on their person! How can everyone there, including Jack Black’s character, Eddie Riggs, not already know the name Doviculus drops and diffuse the situation creation by him dropping the name? Am I supposed to believe 3 months went by from the time Doviculus dropped the name and no one said, “Hey <BLEEP>, you’ve got that <BLEEP> name written on your <BLEEP> in big giant easy-to read letters. I think that means we made a mistake about <BLEEP>.” It boggles my mind. Yes, more than people mining rocks with their heads.

A third sticking point that annoyed me. The game is pretty good about giving you tutorials. One of the first things you’re taught is to look around the world for a particular symbol and to use a relic raiser song to raise the relic, and told about jumping for lightning plugs, doing side missions, etc. Simple, no? Well at the same time in the beginning of the game there are serpent statues and hidden artifacts that are bound up.  I found lots of these statues. You can interact with them and Eddie will say something about them, which usually indicates there’s something important. Now I figured later I would get some ability that would let me open up these items, like the Relic Raiser, and similar to many other games with explorable worlds like this. You know the drill, get the upgrade, go back to the places you’ve visited to use the upgrade to unlock the thing that was locked before. I figured I’d get a tutorial about it too, maybe a quest to introduce it like so many other things in the game. Surprise surprise, none of that happened. I found all the upgrades, did all the side quests, and completed the game and then I realized no, no such tutorial and hint would be coming my way. At which point I found these things and messed around with buttons until I figured out that some of my basic moves from the beginning of the game could have opened them up. And then once I opened these things up I got the entry that told me what these things were. Goody. The artifacts tell me about the game world’s history, something I always find interesting, and the serpent statues upgrade Eddie’s health, damage, etc. No wonder Eddie seemed like he was made out of wet toilet paper in the RTS battles. I mean I thought that’s just the way it was as a way to encourage me to use my unit’s and not Eddie’s axe, but apparently it’s just because I didn’t get a single serpent statue throughout the whole game. Aye. Needless to say having completed the game I’m not going to go back through the game and find these things. I just wish the game would have given me a clue, especially when it’s so good about introducing every other element of the game.

Assuming you can get around those sticking points the game is quite simply, awesome. I really enjoyed my time with the game, and I don’t regret my rental of it at all. But I don’t think I could justify a purchase of this game unless I planned to play the multiplayer game a lot. And maybe that will be the case, because the RTS battles are really good and a some of the best action sequences in the game. We’ll just have to see if there is the kind of following this game needs to do well.