The lights are on
Tim Schafer's Brutal Legend is a tough game for me to judge. In some respects, it's everything I could ask for in a video game. The entire story centers around the world's greatest roadie Eddie Riggs as he is teleported into a legendary world of metal. Every character and environment seems like it is pulled from an album cover, and the brilliantly penned script is delivered by music legends like Rob Halford, Lita Ford, and Ozzy Osbourne. And it stars Jack Black! Sometimes, the world just works.
At first, the game seems to be a simple hack-and-slash adventure game where you wander around the game's sprawling world, completing missions and discovering hidden items throughout. There are occasional breaks in this formula - including races and entertaining turret based shooter missions - but it looks like a fairly straightforward game.
Brutal Legend throws you for a loop not too long after the start of the game when the unexpected happens: the game becomes a console RTS. It still retains the hack-and-slash, open world style in between "Stage Battles," but this sudden twist comes out of nowhere considering the ambiguous marketing for the game. This game mode is where Schafer's team hits its biggest problems. While the RTS segments are fine and play well enough, I couldn't help but think "Ugh! Another Stage Battle," before every mission. It's not terrible way to spend time, but when compared to the entertaining hack-and-slash overworld, it comes across as a disappointment.
While the gameplay of Brutal Legend matches Schafer's vision in terms of ambition, it stumbles when it comes to execution. The varied types of missions while fun, don't offer a lot of depth to the experience, and the stage battles are just not up to snuff when compared to standard PC RTS games. Despite this, I found myself loving the game's fantastic world. Anyone who likes metal in any way - not just the hardcore Slayer fans - should try out this game. Its flaws - while noticeable - never eclipse the many, many reasons to love Eddie Riggs's foray into heavy metal legend.
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