Mediocre gameplay uplifted by an amazing soundtrack and interesting and entertaining world. Could've been much better.
First off, Brutal Legend is part RTS. In fact all the major battles are RTS. Secondly, the game is not very funny. The demo sure is, and parts of the full game are, but overall it's not much of a comedy or anything. And lastly, this game fails to deliver in ANY gameplay mode. I HIGHLY recommend giving this game a rental as opposed to a purchase.
Brutal Legend pits you as Eddie Riggs, the best roadie in the world, who for some reason has a job for the world's worst nu-metal band. Through a sequence of odd events, you'll find yourself in some alternate world built upon the foundation of metal music. It could be best described as a living version of Judas Priest's Painkiller, which heavily influences the game both musically and thematically. The gameworld is ridiculous, but taken in a serious matter. The combination makes it truly awesome.
The game will start off as an action-adventure that has you running around hacking and slashing, driving around in your car in an open-world environment, and working towards completing the campaign missions, secondary objectives, and retrieving collectibles spread throughout the world.
This is the first part of the problem. Brutal Legend is not interactive enough to be an interesting open world. There are some -very- cool monuments, and I enjoyed finding those, but the rest of it is a chore. Collectibles are not entertaining and the secondary missions are a JOKE. I'm fairly disappointed that this amazing Tim Schafer guy even allowed those side missions in the game. You have no idea how bad they are.
And the main problem with all that is if you want to get a feel of the world, you want to do the side missions. It gets you familiar with the characters. Some of the collectibles are lore pieces that tell the backstory of the world, and are very interesting. The car races will give you a layout of the land. So in this design, the developers have made the aspects that should be drawing you into the world the most tedious aspects of the game. Not cool.
With regards to the actual gameplay, it starts off with a mix of action hack and slash with upgrades, but partway into the game you will be hardly using this at all. The RTS elements of the game are different, but not necessarily interesting and not entertaining. It doesn't help that the worst RTS elements were retained. Resource management and unit management are simply not fun design elements. The vehicle portions of the game are not very entertaining either, with the brick-like handling of the hot rod and the way in which your opponent can knock you around on occasion.
The story itself starts off very interesting, but without giving anything away, I'll say that it leaves itself very hollow and does not have a complete conclusion. There was also at least one choice in the game in which I wish I could've made myself, rather than following the linear trainwreck path of Eddie Riggs. I suppose Mass Effect has spoiled me in that regard, by allowing emotional choices to be made by the player.
The single largest redeeming factor of this game is the soundtrack. The best describing word is EPIC. I personally could've used more epic death and/or grind, but it's an excellent presentation of metal, and is also generally diverse. There are some songs and bands in the game that I normally would not have given a chance, but I was totally rocking out to.
To conclude, given the pedigree of Tim Schafer and the hype surrounding this game, I am thoroughly disappointed, but it still manages to be decently entertaining. Fun for a weekend, at least. I really wish that the whole development team had gone through this game piece-by-piece and questioned, for each part, "Is this fun?" However, that would have involved scrapping probably 80-90% of the game, and I'm sure it couldn't've been done at that point, so it was just finished as-is.