Brutal Legend Updated Hands-On Impressions

We liberate headbangers, stage an all-out battle, and witness a Tenacious D reunion.

We're only a few weeks off from Brutal Legend's October 13 release, which is a good thing, because every time we've seen this heavy-metal-themed action game, we've walked away more eager than before to get our hands on the finished product. Our most recent look has continued that trend, giving us the opportunity to go hands-on with a few missions we've previously seen only glimpses of and explore the game's open-world setting to see what sort of trouble protagonist Eddie Riggs can get into outside of the main story.

The Crushing Pit is not a friendly place.

The first mission we played had Eddie liberating an army of headbangers from a dungeon called The Crushing Pit, where they've been toiling away by slamming their heads against rock walls. This mission serves as a tutorial to the basics of squad commands, as Eddie (voiced by Jack Black) gains the ability to play a guitar solo that lets him recruit any nearby headbangers into his army. With these metal-head underlings in tow, you can use the directional pad to order them to follow you, wait and defend where you're standing, or charge toward and attack a distant point on the screen. While Brutal Legend is definitely an action game that's heavy on button combo melee attacks, this system lends a nice bit of strategy to the gameplay.

After using Eddie's heavy metal headbangers to defeat a gang of rival hair metal headbangers--think of them as mirror images of your troops, but with pink tiger-stripe pants and white cowboy hats--we made our way down to the bottom of the mines to take on the boss of this place. He belongs to an enemy class called the bouncers, who are giant brutes with tiny heads and fists the size of their entire body. He's the one brainwashing the headbangers into toiling their lives away by sending commands over his radio headset. We started by taking on a bunch of his minions using combo attacks like the powerslide, which lets Eddie sprint and slide (while on fire) into a bunch of enemies like a powerful bowling ball, and the roman candle, which levitates an enemy in the air on a stream of fireworks. The combo system is simple but deep, with quite a few gruesome yet humorous attacks available to you.

After we handled the bouncer boss's minions with ease, he approached us and exclaimed that we'd yet to take on his two most powerful allies: his fists, which bore the names Fear and Pain, misspelled in typically mangled metal fashion. To defeat him, we had to trade in Eddie's usual array of button combo attacks and use the environment to our advantage. Basically, we had to lure the boss underneath buckets of rubble passing overhead and attack at just the right moment so that the rubble would fall on him, sending him tumbling into the lava pits below. Thankfully, his radio headset was salvaged, and we used that to help rescue the rest of the headbangers from their toiling existence and recruit them into Eddie's army, which he'd set up to take on the villainous General Lionwhyte, leader of the hair metal brigade.

You can add to your combat repertoire with double-team attacks, which link up Eddie and anyone fighting in his army.

The next mission took the basics of squad commands and propelled them to the next level with a full-scale stage battle. If you read our impressions of Brutal Legend's multiplayer, then you're already familiar with how stage battles work. In short, they play like a light real-time strategy game: you control Eddie, and you spawn various troops into your army and then lead them into battle while keeping hold of resource points that let you spawn further troops. What we played was the portion of the game that explains how these high-concept battles figure into a game that, up until this point, is more about small one-on-one encounters.

When it becomes clear that General Lionwhyte is going to be sending a huge army of enemies Eddie's way, Eddie conjures up the idea to stage "possibly the greatest rock show of all time." His logic is simple: If he can take on a handful of enemies with just his guitar, then surely an entire rock concert will let him and his friends take on an entire army. These stage battles provide a nice balance to the usual hack-and-slash style of gameplay by expanding the scope a bit by allowing you to capture resource points and use those to spawn more troops into your army. The only part we had a problem with was being able to tell where new waves of enemies were approaching from, as there isn't any sort of map on the game's very minimalist heads-up display.

After that, we had a chance to explore the game's open world--a wild landscape that looks like a collage of metal album covers--to see what sorts of opportunities lie in wait outside of the main story. The game has at least 50 secondary missions that can be triggered by just exploring the world and finding random people looking for help. The first one we found was a lonely and remarkably unintimidating bouncer stationed on a cannon who'd been tasked with keeping Lionwhyte's troops from making it over a mountain pass. Not only is the guy the most docile-looking bouncer in the game (he's modeled after and voiced by Kyle Gass, Jack Black's bandmate in Tenacious D), but he's downright bad at his job. So Eddie agrees to help him out and ease the poor guy's neuroses by going around and targeting enemy troops to be taken out with the cannon.

It's a Tenacious D reunion with Jack Black and Kyle Gass.

In another side mission, we encountered a character voiced by comedian Brian Posehn (Mr. Show, The Sarah Silverman Program), a diehard metal-head who went to high school with the game's creative director, Tim Schafer. This character wanted us to break his record for hunting the most urchins, the porcupine-like critters that roam freely around the gameworld. The reward for beating this mission, and any secondary mission in the game, is fire tributes, which is a currency you can use to upgrade your hot rod and unlock new combat abilities. Who's the merchant you buy these upgrades from? Ozzy Osbourne, of course. You can expect to see him and a host of other metal icons when the final game is released on October 13.

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Discussion

72 comments
theluuk
theluuk

this game probably has the best soundtrack a videogame can have, EVAR. i already heard Motörhead and 3 inches of blood pass by on the demo, and i already took a look at the list of songs on the soundtrack, this game has it all for the metalheads

Shadow_Fire41
Shadow_Fire41

to answer your question akmex, no. its just a weapon. to use the songs it kinda is, but it only takes a couple button presses and you use the regular controller.

akmex
akmex

i love tenacious D the movie. You dont have to use ta stupid guitar like guitar hero do you?

billdozer1996
billdozer1996

i agree, i just played the demo and i can't wait for this game to come out now! ALL HAIL TRUE METAL!

itsMrKellytoyou
itsMrKellytoyou

This game has been cranked up to 11 unlike most games which only go up to 10

J3ST3R_17
J3ST3R_17

Looks like Double Fine did it again. Just played the demo and was thoroughly impressed. The heavy metal music fits in great with the combat and the atmosphere and Jack Black makes a fantastic main character. I'm actually considering paying full retail for this, something I rarely do. This game has hooked my interest like few other games have.

ramman24
ramman24

played demo 8 times still loving it. ever since I heard that it was coming out ive been saving my money. Love The Gore

doomballoon
doomballoon

played the f'n demo 3 times and still not sicka this thing!

Hobbitslayer18
Hobbitslayer18

@ponsau I totally agree mate, first I wasn't interested in this game but after playing the demo I just need to have it now :P

ponsau
ponsau

I just played the demo today and it was great. The game menu is great, with hands holding a metal album that opens and closes it depending on what part of the menu you go to. I actually went to the settings menu and turned the music volume all the way up, something I rarely do on games. I loved hearing a Racer X Paul Gilbert instrumental on the menu as well. I was pleased that it had solo combos that you have to pull off in rythm similar to guitar hero. Jack Black's humor was evident, and hillarious throughout. Looks like this will be a great game!

jargomasta
jargomasta

After i watched the opening cinematic, i was hooked, this game is gonna rock! haha, literally

pocket-dragon
pocket-dragon

Just played the demo. All I can say is WOW. I originally figured this game was gonna bomb. My expectations have been completely changed. I'm buying it.

kneitor
kneitor

JAck and Tim Rockkkkkkkk

kneitor
kneitor

now who doesn't love METAL?

kneitor
kneitor

I JUST WANT THIS SOOOOO BAAAAAD!!!!

kneitor
kneitor

I say Yeah, there is no way that this game will dissapoint anyone. Unless, ofcourse, if some numbskull that likes pony's and unicorns accidentally buys this game. Boy will that fairy be in for a treat! I, for one, HATE PONYS AND ESPECIALLY THOSE WITH A HORN ON TOP!

5011704dc
5011704dc

Awsomeness at its max! a must buy

PradaProxy
PradaProxy

Tim Schafer never disappoints. Metal fan or not, this game will ROCK!

thorughfire
thorughfire

This game will blow (not hating on Tenacious D)

EzioVenezie
EzioVenezie

@Rhastafurion How can you even doubt it in a game that has Jack Black and heavy-metal =D

JBjazzbo
JBjazzbo

aww man, its an 18! now my parents won't buy it for me :'(

SGB0088
SGB0088

that is 1 big guy with a small head

BDMADEOFMONEY
BDMADEOFMONEY

ya the same thing happened to i went in to get a new one and that one also didn't work! FRICKIN SUCKS COW NIPPLES

zaveline
zaveline

Looks crazy! Can't wait! Just wondering though, anyone else having a hard time getting the demo on XBL? I did everything the card told me to do, even changed it for a new one in case the older one I had was simply invalid. Still didn't make a difference. Help please?

SkinnZero
SkinnZero

This feels like a bad idea. (to me, at least) Not in the hype!

unitazz28
unitazz28

nice// :) should be great game

Kpt_Fantastisk
Kpt_Fantastisk

What hypes me the most about this game is the addition of Dethklok in the soundtrack!

ramman24
ramman24

its only if you pre ordered the game at gamestop

pocket-dragon
pocket-dragon

I don't know about this one...We'll see though, I'll give it a shot.

jaifrecap
jaifrecap

how can i play the demo? i coudnt find it on the PSN it was supposed to be out on sep 18th

GodsPoison
GodsPoison

Ozzy as the Rock Merchant? Imagines a horrific cross between RE4's Merchant and Ozzy..................AWESOME!!

dakan45
dakan45

Damn i wish that game was on pc.

wills_b
wills_b

Hugo_Fahkov Posted Sep 18, 2009 1:18 pm GMT I'm glad they make fun of that sissy, gay ass, glam metal! Maiden, Priest, Ozzy (pre-retard years), Slayer...REAL metal!!!! Yeah that gay ass metal! Unlike priest. Who's lead singer is gay. I say take your homophobia, and shove it up your straight ass.

Ychi
Ychi

Already played the demo and loved it. The humor, style and gameplay delivery are spot on. The focus seems to be more on "hey lets have some fun" factor. Cant wait for this to come out ASAP rawr its time to rock!

Cobbz
Cobbz

this game will be amazing , i just gotta feeling lol

mlenskjold
mlenskjold

This game will be awesome. The enviroments look cool, but i am a little worried about the combat system, but i will buy it because of 2 things. Jack Black is in it and it has the best soundtrack ever made in a game

philosophy666
philosophy666

What's up with Kyle Gass's body and head proportions?

konradak
konradak

Cannot wait, this looks tight :D And good music to boot!