Review: Brütal Legend: Brütal, Not Legendary

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Brütal Legend

From: Double Fine, EA Games

Reviewed on: PS3 (Also on Xbox 360)

I was excited for this game, but something about it wouldn't let me buy into all the hype. Regardless, that wariness lingered. After playing at E3 this year, I was even further underwhelmed, but hopeful that it was just a case of early-in-development-game-gonna-show-improvement.

Well, a big part of this game is in the story, the presentation, and the things that come along with that like the voice actors, graphical style, and sound. All of those things are top notch. This game went whole-hog into the METAL theme, with the greatest roadie of all time, Eddie Riggs (played by Jack Black) being transported into a metal, medieval, hell dimension, and having to use the power of Rock to lead the people to revolution and freedom.

If this was a movie, or better yet, a TV show, I'd be doing nothing but singing the praises of it. The comedy makes you laugh out loud, the action well, does too, the voice acting is all spectacular, the sound and animation is great, and the story, while it gets a little too heavy on the parody and cheesiness sometimes, is engaging throughout.

They're shocked by how basic & boring the gameplay is.

Unfortunately, this is a game, and as a game it fails on many levels. The core gameplay just isn't very fun. There are incredibly basic things missing here. First, there's no jump (though flight is added later in the game, it's too little too late). In this age of adventure games, having no jump just felt weird and didn't make sense in the context of action adventure games. This strange limitation means small rocks and knee-high fences might as well be 100-ft tall stone walls. It makes for instantly frustrating gameplay and leads into the next, much more terrible aspect, invisible walls. You can see beyond this point, but you can't GO beyond it. It's absolutely ridiculous to have to resort to these kinds of limitations, especially after going through the trouble of creating this elaborate, lush world.

The combat is: press button repeatedly. Occasionally strum guitar to use magic. Repeat. There are special attacks, summons, and such, which are done through a series of timed button presses. These thinly veiled quick-time events get tedious rather quickly; I unfortunately don't have the solution of what could have or should have been done in their stead, but this certainly didn't work. There are other things designed to break up the monotony, but they either don't do it for long enough, or just aren't that exciting either. In the case of the real-time-strategy mini-game "Stage Battles," these side gameplay styles may very well make you turn off your console and go do something else entirely, having taken the desire to play games entirely out of your soul. Even navigating the expansive world can be a bit of a pain, thanks to the puzzling lack of a mini-map (instead you follow a column of light and jump in and out of your pause-menu-map).

This game had potential, but only reached that potential on some sides. It's clear that Double Fine gave a lot of time and focus to building this world and the story within it, and again, that aspect of Brütal Legend is a lot of fun. Unfortunately, a game is meant to be played, not just watched, and this one is a mostly bland, sometimes confused set of gameplay slapped on top of the stellar presentation. Big Jack Black fans and die-hard fans of Tim Schafer's brand of comedy might want to rent this (the story can be completed in about 6 hours, maybe less for experienced two-button combat players), but it's very hard to recommend buying this game to just about anyone.

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