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Brutal Legend

Brutal Legend

Video Game Cat Review

Date of Review:  January 14, 2013
Format Reviewed:   Xbox 360
Language / Country of Origin: English, USA
Online Capability:  One vs. One to Four vs. Four online gameplay. The game features a “battle of the bands” scenario in which each team defends their own stage from musical performances and planned strikes from a competitor’s stage.  There is also downloadable content (DLC) available for this title (“Tears of the Hextadon” and “The Hammer of Infinite Fate).
Equipment Needed: None needed.
Maintenance Required:  None required.

Review:

Plot:  
In the ordinary world, Eddie Riggs is a roadie for a heavy metal band called Kabbage Boy.  During a live performance for Kabbage Boy, Eddie rushes to save a member of the band from a chunk of falling stage scenery and gets knocked unconscious.  Blood from Eddie’s wound streams to his belt buckle — which happens to be a powerful amulet that is activated by blood and transports its wearer to the heavy metal world.  There, Eddie awakens in the Temple of Ormagoden where he meets the love of his life, Ophelia, and together they fight off the imminent dark forces of Doviculus, Emporer of the Tainted Coil a.k.a Enslaver of Mankind.  After discouraging Dovilicus, Eddie discovers some writing within the temple and realizes that he can understand it.  Eddie utilizes the writings to build himself a hot-rod dubbed “The Deuce” as he and his new-found love escape the dark temple of Ormagoden.

After escaping, Eddie and Ophelia travel to Bladehenge, where they encounter a group of rebels defending against Doviculus lead by two proper misfits, Lars and Lita, who accept Eddie as a prophet due to his ability to read the Titan’s inscriptions in the Temple of Ormogoden.  Together they create an army known as Ironheade, which will be tested to its limits as it strives to bring harmony to the ever brutal heavy metal world.

Cultural / Historical Value:
Brutal Legend was inspired by creator’s Tim Schafer’s love for heavy metal.  The art of the game was based on heavy metal album covers.  Music is, therefore, of course one of the overarching themes of this game.  Brutal legend contains 107 heavy metal songs licensed from different 75 bands of the genre.  In addition to these featured songs, musician Peter McConnell composed 75 minutes of original orchestral score to tie in the heavy metal music with the flow of the game.  The in-game soundtrack also features drumming instrumentals played by Harry Cantwell.  The solos performed by Eddie Riggs throughout the game were composed by Judas Priest guitarist, Glenn Tipton.  K.K. Downing wrote the solos for Ophelia and Doviculus.

Brutal Legend includes over 35,000 lines of original dialogue, voiced by various comedians, actors and heavy metal musicians.  Some of those included were: comedian/actor Jack Black, Black Sabbath’s Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, The Runaways’ Lita Ford, actor Tim Curry, Tenacious D’s Kyle Gass, actor Wil Wheaton, and comedian/actor David Cross.

On release, the game received a generally positive response.  Critics praised the story, writing, and voice acting in particular.  Both Jack Black and Ozzy Osbourne were singled out for their performances.  However, there was some criticism of the gameplay and the strategy elements.

Learning Characteristics:
Brutal Legend is obviously a game designed to entertain its audience.  Besides resorting to hack and slash with a broad axe named “The Separator” to win one’s way through this game, Brutal Legend requires critical thinking to balance the flow of progress and strategize the way to victory.  The protagonist, Eddie Riggs, also plays a guitar (named Clementine) to fend off enemies.  The player participates in these musical attacks by pressing the appropriate buttons on the controller in relation to the notes revealed in a display to complete a riff and set off a magical attack.  Avid players may find these tactics elementary. However, Eddie can only fend off enemies with his guitar every once in a while and will need to resort to other plans of attack and strategies. By providing specific commands, Eddie is able to organize his team-mates into offensive or defensive stances.  Eddies hot rod, “The Deuce,” may also be used as a weapon.  The game is challenging and fast-paced, demanding quick-time critical thinking skills and sturdy hand-eye coordination.

Replay Value:  

The main story-line of Brutal Legend requires a mere 4-5 hours to beat.  However, there are numerous side missions a player can tackle if they choose to.  Though, it should be pointed out that various reviewers have criticized these missions as being repetitious and mundane.  Overall, if players want to immerse themselves in the game, the open world (which is described as being approximately 40 square miles relative to the natural world) can be explored to reveal bits and pieces of the game’s back-story.  Exploring the world also allows players to unlock new songs that are the archived and played readily by “the deuces” radio.

The game also has a separate online version, which increases the replay value of the title. The multiplayer version has teams of up to four players defending their own stages and planning offensive attacks in a “battle of the bands” type scenario. The single player version lets players choose from five different levels of difficulty.

Likely Audiences:
Players who love heavy metal music will greatly appreciate this game.  Players who have enjoyed games such as Guitar Hero or Rock Band will also probably like this title due to the riff sequences that are played to fend off enemies.  Though the game is cartoonish, it comes with an “M” rating and should be restricted to mature audiences (even though there is an option to turn off profanity and gore/blood).  The game has an easy going tutorial to help a player develop game-play skills, and is therefore appropriate for players with any level of experience.

Overall Score:
85/100.

Other Reviews:
1up.com
Gamerankings
Gamespot
Metacritic
MobyGames

 

About the Author:
Ben Bigalke is an avid traveler, bicycle enthusiast, lover of animals and video gamer extraordinaire.  He grew up taking the stories and virtues told by the Nintendo of his childhood to heart.  As an adult, he continues to appreciate the entertainment and learning experiences that videogames offer and studies the technological and artistic advancements they have made throughout his lifetime.  As a videogame reviewer, he enjoys both observing and experiencing the cultural impact that these games have on his generation.

Awards

Award Giver Category Verdict
Spike Video Game Awards 2009Best Action Adventure Game Nominee
Spike Video Game Awards 2009Best Cast Nominee
Spike Video Game Awards 2009Best Soundtrack Nominee
Spike Video Game Awards 2009Best Voice
(Jack Black as Eddie Riggs)
Winner
Game Developers Choice Awards 2010Best Audio Nominee
Game Developers Choice Awards 2010Best Writing Nominee
Interactive Achievement Awards 2010Outstanding Achievement in Character Performance
(Jack Black as Eddie Riggs)
Nominee
Interactive Achievement Awards 2010Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction Nominee
Interactive Achievement Awards 2010Outstanding Achievement in Original Story Nominee
Interactive Achievement Awards 2010Outstanding Achievement in Soundtrack Winner
Golden Joystick Awards 2010Soundtrack of the Year Runner Up
GAME British Academy Video Game Awards 2010Story Nominee
Interactive Achievement Awards 2010Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year Winner

Additional Info

ESRB Description:
Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes

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