Brutal Legend Updated Impressions - Strategy, Squad Commands, and Demon Juice

We see how Eddie Riggs handles a small army of loyal soldiers in a battle against General Lionwhyte.

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We're still a ways off from Brutal Legend's October release, but there are a few things about this open-world action game that we've come to know fairly well. It's written by Monkey Island veteran Tim Schafer and stars Jack Black, so we know it's going to be funny. It features a storyline about a roadie traveling to an alternate dimension filled with heavy metal folklore and characters voiced by real metal icons, so we know it's going to make fans of hard rock awfully giddy. But how much do you know about Brutal Legend's gameplay? If you've been following our coverage, you've probably picked up on the fact that protagonist Eddie Riggs is a no-nonsense type who will smash demons with his battle-axe with nary a question asked--which of course means plenty of brawling--but now it seems there's a bit more strategy involved.

This might look like a geyser spouting tormented spirits, but it's really your fan base.

Brutal Legend's more strategic side was the subject of a recent demo led by Tim Schafer. He guided us through some of the troop-command elements of the game, something we saw a little bit of in our most recent look. Basically, Eddie has liberated a legion of headbanging teenagers and recruited them into his army as part of his quest to save this alternate world from demonic control. Eddie's most immediate enemy is General Lionwhyte, a glam rocker with "hair so fabulous he can fly on it." At various points in the game, you'll need to stage large-scale battles with troops of varying classes against Lionwhyte's own army.

Eddie discovers his ability to lead troops after deciding to stage the world's greatest rock show. He and his pal Mangus build a giant stage complete with all sorts of neon lights and smoke, only to discover a sudden crack in the ground spilling out what appear to be human spirits. As it so happens, these are fans who have come to be won over by glorious rock and roll. These fans then become a sort of currency for your battles. You build a merch booth around them to siphon their energy and allow you to build troops of headbangers (melee troops) and teenage runaways (ranged troops equipped with bow and arrows). Battles themselves resemble a light, fairly tongue-in-cheek take on the strategy game genre where the stage is your base and these merch booths are your resource-harvesting units.

It's headbangers versus headbangers in this battle.

You'll take your army of headbangers and runaways and guide them around the battlefield using basic squad commands, such as go, follow, and stay. As they fight opposing troops (characters who happen to look and behave just like yours, only with glam metal outfits), you can run along and fight on your own using the trusty battle-axe for melee combat and your magical guitar, Clementine, for ranged warfare. If you want to get fancy, you can also perform double-team attacks where you interact with your troops for added effectiveness. There's one attack where headbangers put you in the middle of their mosh circle to keep you protected and another where a runaway will sit on your shoulder and fire flaming arrows lit by a lighter you hold above your head in true metal fashion.

The end goal is to destroy the opposing base. On the path to victory you'll run into a few more obstacles besides enemy troops. One we were shown was the fan leech, which is a giant monster who drains all the fans in your area to keep you from spawning new troops. With a proper mix of troop management and good old-fashioned brawling mayhem, you should be able to power your way to victory.

Lionwhyte's hair really is that fabulous.

The second battle we were shown introduced a new wrinkle to the way you command your army. It seems that at this point in the story Eddie has fallen victim to what he refers to as "some sort of poison demon juice." As a result, he's turned a deep red and, more importantly, sprouted giant demon wings. He's still the same guy on the inside, but this temporary affliction has given him the ability to fly. Sure, Eddie's become a little more testy--like when he says to a companion "Silence, groundwalker!" after learning to fly only 10 seconds ago--but he's still got an army to command. That means you'll be doing the same sort of strategic management, but this time from up high in the air. We didn't see any air attacks, but it did look like Eddie could travel around the battlefield much more quickly.

Based on our previous looks at Brutal Legend, these strategic sections of the game should be a fun alternative to the basic brawling and vehicle-based combat that make up the bulk of the gameplay. If you're worried that it will veer too far into real-time strategy territory, don't be. What we saw looks just as accessible as the more straightforward action bits, but with just as much of a sense of humor driving it all. We'll have more on Brutal Legend in the very near future, so stay tuned.

Discussion

120 comments
LordSaczva
LordSaczva

"and stars Jack Black, so we know it's going to be funny" jack black isn't funny.

raith616
raith616

gonna be one to look forward too!

1mpthra
1mpthra

This looks like they basically took the models from Guitar Hero and put Medieval weaponry in there palms and threw them loose in a melee.

Takibi
Takibi

This actually sound awesome, ancient battles to fight for metal, sounds like Manowar

KA12NAG3
KA12NAG3

This actually looks really good. I can't wait.

TrippingOnWords
TrippingOnWords

Dude, seriously, the amount of love Tim Schafer puts into his creative IP's is so intense that I can't help but have faith that this game will be completely irresistible. No game designer has ever matched the level of intense visual detail and the amazing themes and feelings that Schafer puts into each and every moment of his games. Besides that the concept is brilliant, it's not just some stupid cash in for the Guitar Hero/Rock Band franchises, it's a game that seeks to bring that same sort of feeling when you saw cheesy rock-inspired Boris Vallejo artworks or when you wondered if Conan could wield a guitar. C'mon, we're all nerds here, right? We can all admit that when we saw the concept art for this game there was this creepy little smile that started in the back of our minds, right? Okay, fine, just me then.

Vic_N_Vince
Vic_N_Vince

I don't know why people are complaining. This game has 1) Metal 2) More Metal 3) The people of 'Psychonaughts' behind it (I believe. If I am wrong sorry) 4) A great character actor for the main character 5) Will have an awesome soundtrack and 6) MORE METAL!!They will not lose their edge and grittiness on this one (unlike 'Kiss' lol)

Z3RO4NGEL
Z3RO4NGEL

lol, the game is not out already and im imagining some kind of sequel of headbangers VS goths.

spikepigeo
spikepigeo

I rarely voice negative opinions but just simply can't get over how stupid this is. The intermixing of metal and an open-world action adventure just seems like something someone "had" to try eventually because of the popularity of Guitar Hero and Rock Band. But common... as far as a game goes it might be fun but I don't know how long i would last while playing it without going crazy cause of how stupid it is. I love metal and I love action adventure games but there is a line between them.

jadefury27
jadefury27

i am sooooo glad double fine got picked up on this one! the strategy aspect sounds a bit like overlord to me and that's not a bad thing. keep it up!

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

This is one of those occasions where they're better off showing the game than talking about it. It looks good, but the storyline may throw off some people, and you can add M.O.M. (Mothers of America) to that group when they hear that a group of characters are known as "teenage runaways", no matter how relevant it is to the game. I'm glad it got picked up and hope it sells well, just so DoubleFine can give Activision the gas face next time they run into each other. and ldonyo, if this one does well, that would be a nice idea for a sequel, or some other studio's answer to BL.

ldonyo
ldonyo

This looks absolutely stupid. Now, if Eddie were traveling through an alternate universe composed of and populated by lands (Rush's forest with maples and oaks fighting over sunlight, for instance or Rush's vision of the world from 2112) and characters (the Neon Knights or Lady Evil from the Black Sabbath or AC/DC's Rosie) from songs, that would be different.

strawboy73
strawboy73

i dont now if this game will be good,,looks like a boring game.but you never know.it might be good.

Flat_Line_____
Flat_Line_____

The Headbanger characters are hilarious, They're necks are HUGE from all that thrashing lol.

poordude1089
poordude1089

@velociblade it works for metal band, i see no reason it shouldn't work here. anywho, I'm looking forward to this game. While I can't say it's going to sell like crazy, it will sell if only because Tim Schafer and Jack Black

VelociBlade
VelociBlade

So, the quality of the character's hair determines the quality of the game. Is that it?

soup980
soup980

@ Starduke Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor are two great instrumental rock bands

Mikethechimp
Mikethechimp

Oct 13, 2009? That's bull****! This game isn't even halfway done yet! What, did EA work it's release-rushing magic AGAIN? Don't they ever learn?

Mystoksor
Mystoksor

so the ultimate enemy is a hair-metal guy? That's not what I was hoping for. He should be the interim foe before you have to take on some sort of grunge demon and the other musical abominations he unleashes

jello_flouride
jello_flouride

@starduke, try looking into videogame cover bands like Powerglove. No singing, great music.

starduke
starduke

Sounds cool, even though I've never really been into any form of rock n' roll. Too many times the music gets good and then they have to ruin it by starting to "sing". If you can call thet barely understandable gibberish they ussually spout singing. Is there a form of rock n' roll where they don't sing? Like, maybe, with an endless electric guitar riff? Anyway, this game looks good. I like games where you can use battle axes.

Illuve
Illuve

gggamezzz!?!? You hate jack black?! That's heavy man! I mean if you had said like, "I don't really care for jack black's style of humor cuz it's down right obscene and crude..." Then I could respect that but.... geez. You just straight up HATe jack black... how sad :(

gggamezzz
gggamezzz

The game looks pretty good....but I hate jack black. Maybe if I can change the language I might get it.

Unlimitedbigdad
Unlimitedbigdad

It seems very good. i'll definitaly get it. In my wish list!

Oleg_Huzwog
Oleg_Huzwog

dasboy1 - "how can they make action game with jack black" Simple. Listen to the lyrics of Wonder Boy and you shall have your answer.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

@MaxBlaze: "So glam rockers=bad guys, eh?" You tell me... goth rocker here lol. Anyway, it's just a game... READY TO KILL MY OWN PEOPLE! HAHA Cheers

mwc8630
mwc8630

Sounds like a no-brainer. And I mean that in a good way. It's nice to pick up a game sometimes where you don't get that "Oh God, maybe I should have gotten the strategy guide for this" moment. Interesting variety of gameplay, too. Looks promising.

D4NZEL-709
D4NZEL-709

Patous Posted May 14, 2009 2:28 pm GMT -2 This game is going to be great. Who knew rock n' roll could be so fun? It was always fun GH

alkaline_DnB
alkaline_DnB

never really followed this game, but it looks decent.

dasboy1
dasboy1

just saying how can they make action game with jack black just saying

Patous
Patous

This game is going to be great. Who knew rock n' roll could be so fun?

13ALUCARD13
13ALUCARD13

looks good for a game about rock and metal im gunna get this probobly the same time as prototype

shemrom
shemrom

Sounds cool, can't wait to see more from this

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

sounds interesting at least.... will reserve judgment til I've played it I think though. Could be one of the many "sounds great, plays awful" titles....

Virtual_Erkan
Virtual_Erkan

I love Hard Rock and Metal musics gotta buy this!!

mrcookie44
mrcookie44

lol is the word :) I'll definetely buy it

KazuyoshiDS
KazuyoshiDS

:D now this. i'm gonna check it out.