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Brutal Legend Review

  • First Released Oct 13, 2009
  • Reviewed Mar 1, 2013
  • PC

Brutal Legend's heavy metal take on real-time strategy makes a solid transition to the PC, though playing with a controller is still the way to go.

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The most important piece of knowledge you need going into Brutal Legend has nothing to do with heavy metal music. Sure, a deep love of that genre can play a huge part in your overall enjoyment of the game's guitar-solo-fueled and star-studded story, but it's easier to find satisfaction in what the game is when you're not expecting it to be something it is not. With this PC release of Brutal Legend coming years after its 2009 console debut, it's easier to prepare for the unique experience it offers while also enjoying it at a higher resolution.

Merely looking at screenshots or old prerelease marketing materials for the game can make it appear to be many things, yet it's not "Zelda with a guitar," and it's not "God of War as told by Black Sabbath," as cool as either of those things might have been. It's a real-time strategy game, even though that term may not accurately represent the first couple of hours of the campaign.

Brutal Legend follows Eddie Riggs, a roadie (voiced by Jack Black) with a profound love of classic metal who finds himself transported to an appropriately brutal fantasy land that's part The Lord of the Rings and part Iron Maiden album art. The game's strongest qualities lie in its writing, its characters, and its world. The magic (and much of the humor) is in how many fantasy tropes are twisted to fit into a heavy metal world. Basic melee characters, for instance, are literal headbangers who smash their craniums against anything in their way. Roadies are your strong but stealthy units; guitar solos can literally melt faces; and "fans" are your mystical, music-loving resource. This all combines with a well-acted cast of characters featuring voices from the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy Kilmister, and Tim Curry. The story does lose some of its whimsy toward the end, when the plot is in danger of taking itself too seriously, but the over-the-top nature persists through the six- to eight-hour adventure.

The first time you take control of Eddie, you might feel as if you're playing a rather standard character action game, since mashing out simple combos is your path to bloodily slaughtering groups of enemies. Soon, however, the world opens up, and you may get a strong The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time vibe as you search the landscape for collectibles and play your magical instrument (a guitar, which is, of course, much more hardcore than an ocarina) to perform solos that can summon your trusty car or reveal hidden garages. Just when you feel like this might be what the game is about, Brutal Legend starts letting you give orders to small squads of units, which is when the strategy aspect becomes more apparent. This is a good thing, due in no small part to the fact that an entire game of nothing but Brutal Legend's on-foot combat wouldn't be the most pleasant of experiences.

 Both your axe and your 'axe' can make a bloody mess.
Both your axe and your 'axe' can make a bloody mess.

It's a little while before you reach a point where this feels like a more full-fledged (if simple and action-heavy) real-time strategy game. In the game's stage battles, you are given a single stage (your base), which can be upgraded and which produces all of your units. Fans serve as your band/army's single resource, and controlling fan geysers spread across the map is key to victory. It's never possible to amass as large an army as you might be used to in other strategy games, and there is only one simple upgrade path to pursue, but there is a good variety in how each unit behaves, which can allow for many different strategies.

You always control Eddie directly and can get your axe bloody in on-foot battles yourself, but you need to spend a lot of time managing your troops from the air. A simple button press sends you flying into the sky, where you can quickly survey the land and order troops around. If you're serious about doing damage with your own hands, units at your command have double-team attacks that let you control them more directly, whether by marching with a mosh pit of headbangers, driving a vehicle, or operating a turret.

When you're not on a story mission, the world is riddled with side quests to take on, which can vary in style from race events to small-scale battles to hunting missions. Unfortunately, there is a lot of repetition in these quests that makes them become tedious quickly, especially when the rewards (typically nothing more than a small amount of experience) aren't necessary to proceed through the game.

Every heavy metal star worth his salt understands the importance of accessorizing.
Every heavy metal star worth his salt understands the importance of accessorizing.

Once you've finished the rather short campaign, you can hop into multiplayer, which expands on the stage battle formula with two additional factions. If you want to practice your skills, you have the option of battling an AI opponent across a range of difficulty settings, though your options are sadly limited to one-on-one duels (which is also true of non-custom online matches). This is a bit unfortunate, since Brutal Legend doesn't sport the most populated multiplayer servers, meaning you may have to play the AI more often than you'd like if you're starving for more battles.

The PC version adds higher resolution and multiple frame-rate options, allowing the game to be played in 1080p at 60fps. There are also a host of new anti-aliasing options along with sliders to adjust field of view and draw distance. But Brutal Legend's graphical assets do nothing to hide the fact that this was originally a console game several years ago, though the game's art style, which gives off a heavy metal album-cover vibe with every new environment, holds up well. Rounding out the reasonably priced package is all the downloadable content that was originally released for the console versions, which doesn't add a ton of meat to the single-player experience but is a fun perk anyway.

The main place where Brutal Legend's PC port feels like a missed opportunity is in its controls, and it's weird to say that an RTS actually controls better with a gamepad than with a mouse. While you can plug in an Xbox 360 controller and immediately have a console-like control experience, those intending to play with a mouse and keyboard may not have as good a time. The game certainly isn't unplayable in this setup, but it's not ideal. The radial menus make sense when you're using analog sticks, but they make building units quickly a chore when you're using a mouse. It would have been nice if Double Fine had taken the extra step to add something PC RTS players are more used to, such as a menu bar. As it is, the game doesn't feel as natural when you're using a keyboard.

Careful, Eddie. Play the wrong tune and you'll end up in Hyrule. You'd hate it there.
Careful, Eddie. Play the wrong tune and you'll end up in Hyrule. You'd hate it there.

Ultimately, this is an upscaled version of the exact same Brutal Legend experience console gamers got in 2009, warts and all. A few minor technical hiccups aside (which the developer seems dedicated to fixing with patches), the game runs well. With Brutal Legend's new graphics options and its budget-friendly price point, Double Fine seems to have done most things right in bringing the game to the PC--effective mouse and keyboard controls being the obvious exception. Plug in a gamepad, though, and you have a fine version of what remains a unique action strategy experience. Just be sure you know what type of game you're getting into.

Back To Top
The Good
New graphical options improve the game's look
Wonderful writing and characters
Great soundtrack
The Bad
Keyboard and mouse controls leave something to be desired
Short campaign
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Brutal Legend

About the Author

Britton Peele is a freelance writer for GameSpot and a Digital Entertainment Editor for The Dallas Morning News. Find hi
154 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for dude99

I hope the reviewer has realized by now that you can use an xbox controller while playing a pc.

Avatar image for parkurtommo

The general tone and amazing art direction combined with one of the most innovative and unique worlds/lore ina video game to date make this a really good game. I started playing with keyboard but eventually went over to gamepad. I think this game would be much better as a simple action adventure title however because the rts sections get very tedious unless you really rush the objective in the beginning because your late game units are much weaker than the enemy ones for some arbitrary reason.

Avatar image for Kryptonbornson

I wish people would stop acting like PC games are supposed to be played with a keyboard and mouse. Some games are meant for controllers and if you can't afford a controller at the time of the game purchase, allow for keyboard and mouse. That makes sense as controllers aren't bundled with PCs.

Avatar image for RonTorque

I got the game, still have to try it though. Already have a controller which i play most of the games using.

Avatar image for befo72

I'm also not having any particular issues with keyboard and mouse. And this port is infinitely better PC-optimized than Darksiders II, whose low res textures and models are just god awful (even though it's still a great game).

Avatar image for Jedilink109

Eh, forget the haters, this game is awesome. As for the controls, I already knew it probably wouldn't play super well with I just use a controller. Problem solved. Besides who wants to drive around in a car in a game using keyboard buttons?

Avatar image for rdlguy

I played this game on the PS3 and the tower defense sections were terrible. The whole thing was WAY over-rated. I tried to like it because of all the hype but it's just a waste of time. good voice acting does not make a great game. I can't believe this guy got people to offer him cash on kick starter.

Avatar image for blackzio

i think almost all pc gamers should have by now at least one gamepad, don't think it's fair to take 1.5 out of the score just because of that.

Avatar image for sumukh3

@blackzio Agree. Seeing Dark souls didn't lose even half a point for making one of the worst ports.

The K&M controls are great for this game,don't know what the reviewer is talking about.9/10

Avatar image for hannderson

Amazing Soundtrack!! See more about this game in Gruta Nerd

Avatar image for Poodlejumper

I just noticed that there's no EA in the credits of my PC Bought Brutal Legend.

No EA??? Something just told me why it's finally come out for PC!

Avatar image for blackzio


if it was EA it would be on origin

if it was on origin i wouldn't buy it.

Avatar image for Chui_GamingX

Okay! Red Dead Redemption on PC is next =)

Avatar image for Kryptonbornson

@Chui_GamingX It sucks, no need for a PC port.

Avatar image for veyeper

@Chui_GamingX I definetley agree have been crossing my fingers on that hopeing for a PC release that would be so awesome !!

Avatar image for Techmaster666

I Played both 360 and PC version and didn't feel particular shortcomings by playing with keyboard and mouse (the game is kinda forgiving even in hard mode). If you want you can use a controller or you can map the keys if you don't like where they are.

The review was good till it said it reminds of Zelda... first it states it's an RTS, then talks about Zelda...
Doesn't it remind you about Guilty Gear XX too??? I-no fights with a guitar! STRONG VIBE!
And what about Guitar Hero? Badass character that uses a guitar! STRONG VIBE!
Eternal Sonata? STRONG VIBE!

Imho it has WAY more points in common with Overlord, than with Zelda or God of War.

The fun part of the game are metal quotes/music... not the amazing graphic or the epic bosses. So even if it has a kinda old graphic, it doesn't matter much. I'd like to remember that not even the console version had special graphic, but it scored 8.5.

Imho it's a fun and enjoyable game that aged pretty well.

Avatar image for tazdevil33

this is the first time i can remember that i haven't put any money aside for either a new playstation or Xbox . Just can't see any value in either of them at this stage.

Avatar image for nate1222

I've been eyeing this game on Steam. Despite GS' review, it looks like a getter. As far as the controls go? I've got a Logitech F310, so I'm good.

Avatar image for Deano

"The most important piece of knowledge you need going into Brutal Legend has nothing to do with heavy metal music"

what a bizarre statement, that's like saying call of duty has nothing to do with guns. The whole game is about heavy metal music, from the music, to the themes, to the jokes, to the celebrity appearances, to the fact you do guitar riff combos as attacks. The review lost credibility after the first line

Avatar image for onikazam


Avatar image for Dj_Kabeza

Avatar image for Poodlejumper

Sorry Gamespot. Going to ignore your review. Especially since "you may get a strong The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" vibe comment. No. I wouldn't know that feeling. My Wii sits collecting dust for the past 4 years and anything made with the key Nintendo IPs has lost interest to me 10 years ago.

I've heard different from those I personally know.

One thing that mystifies me is why this took so damn long to get to the PC. Should of been there from day 1.


Avatar image for Masterous

I don't get it Gamespot, you praise it for having all the pros of a PC version > Console version while also stating that all versions have the same negatives (gameplay wise), yet you gave it 1.5 less than the console versions?

Avatar image for GGCrew_basic

@Masterous Perhaps you missed the parts discussing how it was NOT optimized for PC, namely console-friendly textures and a poor PC control scheme.

I think it's perfectly fair to dock a good game because of a bad interface.

Avatar image for Masterous

@GGCrew_basic I don't think they said anything about optimisation, they said the graphical quality wasn't a huge leap over the console version and that it played better with a controller (which PC users have the option of using).

Avatar image for Jedilink109

@Masterous @GGCrew_basic Yeah I have this game on my gaming laptop and I can easily just plug in a controller and plug it into the tv and it's no different from playing it on a console now...although it DOES look better.

That's fine with me. Besides the game is so cheap anyway that it's not a problem.

Avatar image for NiteX

It was an awesome game up until the RTS mod kicked it. Then it became out right crap.

Avatar image for axelx666

we need a one where Classical Music takes over the land and we have to fight back..that would be kickass.

Avatar image for Poodlejumper

@axelx666 No. Classical is just as awesome as metal. It wouldn't do that. Listen to some Mendelssohn or Grieg or Wagner or Tchaikovsky...they are very brutal sometimes.

Now....Bubblegum pop though..."boybands" and "girldbands" who don't write their own music and, as of late, use more autotune than talent. It's far easier to sell to uninformed customers (tween girls) than people who might have some basis to compare things to...

I can actually hear my chainsaw rev...

Avatar image for sarge61

@Poodlejumper @axelx666 Totally agreed, any quality music like classical can be considered brothers to metal imo therefore our enemies shall be rubbish like pop, dumbumbumstep etc.

Avatar image for Arcturuss

@axelx666 More like dubstep

But ok.

Avatar image for Earl-of-Death

@Arcturuss @axelx666 Ya. The Warriors of Metal battling the repulsive mechanical beasts of Dubstep. That would be outstanding!

Avatar image for axelx666

ok first off. THIS GAME IS 3 YEARS OLD

second: "The most important piece of knowledge you need going into Brutal Legend has nothing to do with heavy metal music." oh sure all of the songs,characters,items,etc aren't named after something to do with heavy metal..oh not at all.

this review is unjust, i bought Brutal Legend back when it came out on the PS3, now im not gonna say anything about how it plays (bugs,controls,graphics etc).the gameplay and story was well written.but it was an amazing game, and me being a metalhead, I LOVED IT! it should be an 8.5 at most, if you are a Metalhead you need to play this game, it has an awesome soundtrack and it's just so amazing..and it has a lot of replay value.

gamespot..i used to worship the ground you walked on..lately after reading these reviews..WHAT HAPPENED? all these new reviewers who i've never heard of...low scores and barely any justification why except for BIASED opinions..

am i the only one who feels this way about GS?

Avatar image for Thyasianman

@axelx666 Decent reply to the review, but I must say. This is his review of the game not yours. He obviously felt it was a 7, and that score means it is "good". How is that bad? You don't have to agree with it though, and you should stop caring about people's own opinions about games. There will never be a day when every single person on the world Loves a single game. I myself would hate to see only 9's and 10's on a review website because that is what would happen because on every single review on this site people all say the score is too low or too high.

I suggest you go write your own review if you are this dissatisfied about the person's review.

Avatar image for axelx666

@Thyasianman i understand what you are saying, just wanted to give my 2 cents is all.

Avatar image for ZoTrAcK

@Thyasianman @axelx666 agree with both of you, just don't look at reviews before playing a game and your judgment won't be biased by it...

Avatar image for blackace

Wow, this is like 3 years old. Not sure why anyone would want to play this with a keyboard/mouse control anyways. Most gamers who were interested in this game has already played and beat it. Are there really PC gamers out there who want to pirate this game now? Probably not, which is why it just got released on the PC.

Avatar image for Poodlejumper

@blackace Just bought it and am playing it on the "keyboard/mouse". Like I play everything.

Spare me.

Avatar image for ZRavN

@blackace double fine always wanted to bring this game out on pc but couldn't for various business related reasons. Updating their backlog on steam is not a bad idea at all. Its fairly common for PC gamers to purchase older games, sometimes 10 or 15 years old. This is because the hardware and distribution ecosystem of the PC platform supports that sort of thing, but the consoles do not. Some of the best games ever made are 10-15 years old and still bought and played by many. For examples, baldur's gate, HL, deus ex, diablo 2, system shock2, doom, quake etc.

Avatar image for bdiddytampa

@ZRavN @blackace yeah unlike on consoles, we CAN buy and play games that are 10 - 15 years old without having to worry about backwards compatibility :-P

Avatar image for tazdevil33

@bdiddytampa @ZRavN @blackace

unless it is windows 8 , though those windows 8 only games aren't worth playing anyway.

Avatar image for Lpedraja2002

@blackace Why would you assume the people who want to play it on PC will pirate it? That is just low. I haven't played it since I do not own a console and I pre-ordered it on Steam just because I was looking for a platformer game. But after I read this review I found out that the game is more like an RTS so I don't know if I'll end up enjoying the game as much as I thought. But a lot of serious PC gamers prefer buying games for cheap and thanks to Steam and their super bargain prices we are supporting our game developers.

Avatar image for IAMTYLERDURDEN
@ @Lpedraja2002 Well said brotha.
Avatar image for comb5

@IAMTYLERDURDEN Shhhhh.... We don't like talking about console pirates. The industry would just like to pretend they don't exist and it's all us PC gamers.

Avatar image for IAMTYLERDURDEN

@ @blackace What about the folks that pirated the game on

consoles when it was new?

Avatar image for deactivated-5a5f623fa2551

I was hoping this game would spark a little interest in action/RTS hybrids when it originally released three years ago. I would love to see a Sacrifice sequel.

Needless to say, Brutal Legend didn't spark much of anything, though it is a great game.

Avatar image for medv105

Wow the graphics do look nicer than on the Xbox360 version. I might just play the PC version anyways xD Most epic game ever made \m/

Avatar image for anigmha

@anfunny @queuing_for_PS4 @SteamyPotatoes

Hahaha, I've never seen a debate-win this solid in a comment thread before. GG anfunny.

Avatar image for anigmha

C'mon, any PC gamer that plays games beyond FPS and RTS owns a PC-compatible controller or are already damn good at keyboard + mouse setups despite the game genre. And no, this is a game with RTS elements, not an actual RTS game. You can't knock a game because the user doesn't have input devices that he should already be expected to have.

Brutal Legend More Info

  • First Released Oct 13, 2009
    • Linux
    • Macintosh
    • + 3 more
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    Brutal Legend is Double Fine's long-awaited follow-up to Psychonauts from the mind of Tim Schafer. It is a heavy metal action game starring Jack Black who plays rock-and-roll roadie Eddie Riggs who is hurled back in time to the mythical Age of Metal when the world was formed and ruled by the power of Rock.
    Average Rating3881 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Brutal Legend
    Developed by:
    Double Fine Productions
    Published by:
    Double Fine Productions, EA Games, Microsoft Game Studios
    Adventure, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes