Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Brütal Debut, Brütal Review?

Brütal Legend hits the shelves...

The following is an excerpt from an excellently written review over at I pre-ordered my copy way back when, but this gives me some pause. With the price of video games being so high, I usually do a lot of grunt work with reviews and public opinions first before I go plop down sixty bucks on an 'iffy' game title.

Brütal Legend’s gameplay is hard to describe. The back of the box doesn’t even try. All it says, in a bullet point to that effect, is “Vanquish foes with axe and electrified guitar.”

This is exactly what you do — in the game’s first seven minutes. After that, you’re thrown into your trusty hot rod, the Druid Plow, in which you’ll run over some evil druids and then fight a giant nasty boss monster by driving in circles around it and running over its tongue.

After this opening segment, you’d think you were in for a goofy God of War–style action game — and you would be completely wrong. A few hours later, what you’re playing is almost entirely a real-time strategy game. You’re flying over a map, battling for control points and resources, using them to generate attack units, and sending your fighters off to engage the enemy: In short, it’s a rock-themed Command & Conquer.

The problem here is that I really want to like the game, but I am not an intense, sit-down and get serious video gamer. I play as a distraction and quite casually. If it's late and I don't want to paint minis, or go to to bed, I'll crank out a few missions of sci-fi goodness in Halo, or maybe vanquish some demon lords or something. Some gamers poo-poo video games as the ultimate waste of time that gives you nothing to show for in the end. It's a discussion for another time, but for me, everything has its place, and you can geek out just as well with a video game depending on your situation. Anyway, on to Brütal Legend. Here's the "final word" from Adam Rosenberg over at the Multiplayer blog:

I hate to say it as I had high hopes for this game, but "Brutal Legend" is a near-total bust. It’s worth tearing through the relatively short main quest – six to eight hours, no more – on easy if you’re a fan of Schafer and his stories. But prepare to suffer through equal helpings of both derivative and new-but-not-fun gameplay mechanics. Devil horns will not fly today.

Given all that, the one site I go to again and again is In any other genre I don't put much stock in critics, but I come here first for video gaming. They've got a surprisingly optimistic review written up, and there may be hope yet.
Double Fine's Brutal Legend is an unabashed love letter to an era and genre of music that celebrated fast guitar riffs and hard living. It's also a tribute to an epic lore that spoke of conquerors and death--all of which were often depicted at once on any given metal album cover with the obligatory smattering of lightning. Of course, the fact that Brutal Legend features a phenomenal soundtrack from the likes of Black Sabbath, Motorhead, and Judas Priest with suitable hack-and-slash action would feasibly constitute a reasonable tribute on its own terms. Yet, what raises Brutal Legend above that simple construct--plus what makes it a great ode to metal--is how it cleverly integrates so many different facets of the culture and its music to create an experience that consistently entertains and surprises in both single-player and multiplayer.
So after all that, it's decision time. Instead of post other people's reviews on the game, that's I've hyped quited a bit here, I should probably just break down and get it, then post my own review. I did have that money ear-marked for Chaos in the Old World, but neither of the two are going anywhere anytime soon, so we'll see...

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