Another Schafer Gem
Tim Schafer is a mad man. Let's just get that out in the open. He has a sick, twisted mind and lives in a more cartoony version of any of Tim Burton's films. This mind is perfect for writing video game masterpieces. When you experience a Schafter game, you are generally felt with a bond-ship between the characters you encounter and yourself.
Brütal Legend is no different. As the game starts off, you generally want to care for the characters, hoping that this journey won't end in failure. But what really grabs you is not only the characters, but this twisted land of metal that Schafer has pulled out from the imagination of metal legends and their legendary album covers. If you really go back and look at a metal cover by bands like 'Iron Maiden' or 'Slayer', you see these horrible images of death and destruction: perfect for video games! And this is what Tim managed to accomplish by combining humor and colorfulness to the very dark and violent images you see in metal.
Enough of the overall conceptual background. The story is pure magic. You star as Eddie Riggs, a roadie that tours with a rapcore "metal" band of today's world known as Kabbage Boy, and manages to get smashed by his own evil stage creation. Through this, and his magic belt (which is Ormagöden, an ancient ruler of the metal land), he manages to travel back in time, to when metal was king. A time before the 70s and 80s. With the help of a few true metal warriors, you battle in the Ancient World for peace against Doviculus, the Emperor of the Tainted Coil, and his Glam metal minions. While the game is an overall short experience (around 7-10 hours), you will end up having a blast the time you are playing.
The game plays out like a typical hack and slash. You have your battle axes for melee combat and electric guitars for ranged attack. You're also equipped with a car, a hot rod, that can be upgraded to be a mean machine with a killer engine, as well as guns and mines. If these do not excite you, you also have the ability to double team with any friendly AI unit on your team, as well as beast of the field. For instance, your first group of allied AI is the Headbangers. When you jump into their group, or double team with them, you are in a sort of mosh pit that knocks anyone around in a more controlled melee beating, as well as giving them more damage. You can do the same thing with player vehicles, giving you alternative methods to use your allies.
The point of the game is to reclaim the land by completing several quest. The main quest is generally the same thing. You battle bosses, drive and protect a tricked-out tour bus from baddies, and then basically play a somewhat strategy game of "Defend the Stage, Attack the Stage". The way this is set up, your crew builds a stage and you have to control your merchandise stands, all of which are built on fans that generate into your economy. You'll have to keep a balance between fighting off the opposing stage and enemies, while maintaining your troops and your own stage. Really, this is a difficult thing to accomplish, especially if you're looking at it like you're playing an RTS game rather than an action hack and slash game. This almost seem overwhelming the first few battles, and when you finally get the hang of it, they bust out the Tainted Coil teams which felt are a lot like the Zergs in StarCraft. They'll rush and crush you. Giving that this is the main point of the single player experience, and multi player, you better get used to playing in a mode like this.
Some of the side quest are really great, but they do tend to be on the repetitive side. You basically have the choice to defend or ambush enemies, race a wise-talking Irish demon, help a cannonier learn how to use his cannon, hunt wild animals, or just find hidden treasures. Basically, you'll do these a lot, over and over. Granted, they're side quest, so if you don't want to do them, you don't have to. They're more of added bonuses.
Multi player is something that can be either extremely fun and exciting or make you want to duck and run. It follows the same method as the single player's stage battles, but some of the players you'll encounter seem to have been born playing this game already. A general hint to beating these foes is to just remember the game is not an RTS, no matter how much it looks like it.
As for graphics, for being a new engine, it looks great. It fits into Tim's overall world and is set apart from other worlds. It does everything, from great facial animations to terrific lighting, very well. While it looks great, you will encounter some minor hick-ups during the game, mainly in the overworld. The sounds are terrific, and with a 100+ soundtrack, you can't go wrong.
If you're really looking for a game to keep you busy this holiday, this game may not be it, but it will entertain you and leave you with a wanting for a second. Or just wanting a new world for Tim Schafer to create to shatter your world.