Brutal Legend is the latest game from videogame mastermind Tim Schafer. The visionary game director who always creates quirky, imaginative worlds, memorable characters, and fun although generally by the numbers gameplay. Starting with adventure games like Maniac Mansion and Grim Fandango, then hitting a homerun with the console crowd with fan favorite Psychonauts, this man has developed quite a talent in coming up with unique game worlds that will stay with you for a long time. I am happy to report that Brutal Legend is thankfully no different and one of his wackiest game worlds yet. This is a fun, imaginative, terrifying, and totally badass world that will have you dying to see whats coming next and what kind of gameplay option will open up for you. Most of the time anyway.

      Set in a captivating, loud and in your face heavy metal universe, you play as roadie Eddie Riggs who gets sucked into this Heavy Metal universe after one unfortunate incident involving your supposed death. At least I think he died. The story is never really clear. By the end of the game I barely had any idea what really happened in the grand scheme of things other than I killed the badguy and your peaceful crew is free for a while from the evil people's rule. You have a love interest who hints at a grander story yet in the end it feels glossed over and by the end of the game I was wishing the story just had a little more meat to it.

     I felt like I knew every camper inside out in Psychonauts, but in this game characters only have a hinted at history. Still, that doesn't stop you from enjoying their personalities because there are some truly memorable ones here like the totally awesome Headbangers you must free from the mines, and the master of healing wounds and talking funny, the Kill Master, voiced by rock legend Lemmy Kilmister.

      I loved almost all of the characters but I felt like the story was glossed over and that is partly due to the fact that there are 12 hidden metal lore stories placed around the world that are completely optional to open. They are these little stories that tell you a little bit about the world around you but the game never tells you how to activate these stories! I had to search the internet to figure out how to open them and I didn't view one until after I had beaten the game and by then I had lost interest.

      This is probably the worst thing about Brutal Legend. The tutorials, or lack thereof slightly detract from your enjoyment of the game. The game never tells you that you need to perform an earthshaker to unlock the hidden legends, it never tells you that you can mount your stage in the RTS segments to perform additional attacks, and there isn't even a minimap to view when you are driving around. The actual gameplay is very beginner friendly but advanced players will struggle to uncover the more valuable information they seek.

      I've talked a bit about the story and the setting but haven't talked about the gameplay yet. Usually people buy Tim Schafer games for the story and unique world and deal with the gameplay because its usually the game's weakest element. Things have changed this time around however. I have to say the gameplay is much more fleshed out this time around. Most Tim Schafer games are of the simple point and click affair and this is the second time the gameplay is fully action focused, but he has made great strides since his gameplay in Psychonauts. Platforming felt a little iffy in that game, so in this he removed the ability to jump entirely. This introduces its own set of problems when traversing the world but you'll spend most of your time riding around in your car anyway. Melee combos are responsive and intuitive and double team attacks are fun to pull off with nearby characters, but the lock on camera could use some work. The action isn't a substitute for Devil May Cry or God of War but it feels almost as polished at times.

      Now onto the RTS gameplay. I will say right now that it is definitely simple, but purposely so. There are RTS battles in the single player game called Stage Battles, which you can also experience through multiplayer both local and online. You won't find a lot of matches online now unfortunately as the community has all but died out but it is a fun diversion for a short while if you can find a match. It won't be the mode that causes you to put the disc in night after night, but you will have fun if you boot it up every once in a while.

     Very basic strategies are what you'll find in the RTS department but it is a very involved gameplay experience with your avatar personally dealing the most damage. Has your opponent built 20 ground troops and your vehicles can't target them in time? Well, you can just jump in the center of them all and perform a face melter solo to literally melt their faces off and instantly waste his troops he probably spent a fortune on. Likewise his player character can focus on your hard to reach vehicle if his own army can't deal with it and it creates this frenetic mix of light strategy elements of trying to build the appropriate troops, sending them where to go on the small maps, and you personally upsetting the balance with your player character if he is simply better at the hands off Commander approach. Some people excel at managing soldiers while others have better luck with personal combos and tactics 'action game style' and I like how the RTS portions require both for you to succeed. This applies to the single player portion as well so there are fun RTS elements to be had no matter which mode you pick.

      At the end of the day, you are going to have a lot of fun with this game regardless of your taste in music or gamegenre experience. A lot of people are saying this is an RTS hidden behind an action game facade but I don't think that is entirely fair. There really are only like 6 or 7 RTS battles in the whole campaign and even though you are required to play them, you are still lopping heads off and mounting turrets in between telling your units where to go. I can definitely see people who are expecting strictly action gameplay or strictly RTS gameplay being disappointed in the end product because it really doesn't stay in one genre too long, but your inital disappoint will very quickly subside when the next hilarious bit of dialogue rolls around or the next jawdropping setpiece unfolds as they are so very well done in Brutal Legend. You will smile at the way they perfectly integrate Dragonforce's "Through the Fire and Flames" into a harrowing car chase and you haven't heard Ozzy Osbourne's "Mr. Crowley" until you've heard it in the context of Brutal Legend. No game before has used music in such ingenious ways and Tim Schafer has created a Legend you will definitely want to experience at least once.


Concept: Rock your way through Tim Schafer's unique Metal Utopia.

Graphics: Very well done for a modern Xbox 360/PS3 game and while it doesn't set any new benchmarks in terms of visuals, you owe it to yourself to witness the awesome artistry of this beautiful world.

Sound: The best soundtrack ever to grace a single videogame. Voice acting is also top notch and Jack Black really brings the character of Eddie Riggs to life.

(I must quickly mention however that on the PS3 the sound effects during cutscenes are muffled and barely audible and can be distracting to your ears. Voices and music are crystal clear but there appears to be some kind of weird sound effect glitch. I played this game in February 2010 and apparently the ps3 had a patch to fix this problem which was released soon after the game came out but the problem is back again so hopefully Double Fine will fix this glitch for the second time with another patch in the near future.)

Playability: Really tight and responsive action controls and the RTS gameplay is acceptable and good fun if you can get your head around the fact that this is the Checkers to StarCraft's Chess.

Entertainment: Definitely keeps you engaged from beginning to end though I wish the story had more to it especially since this is a Tim Schafer game. Sidequests are available and mostly fun but very repetitive.

Replay Value: It is a short game but totally worth experiencing at least once. I finished in 14 hours but completed EVERY sidequest that wasn't a pointless collect-a-thon like 'Free 109 of these things.' Expect a straight story playthrough to be around 8 or 9 hours if you avoid any kind of exploration whatsoever, which probably won't happen since the world is so fun to explore. I plan on playing through again once the sound issues are fixed so you will probably play through this game a couple of times in the end because the world is so unique.

Final Score. 8.5/10