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Brütal Legend

13 October 2009
Brütal Legend - cover art
Glitchwave rating
2.96 / 5.0
0.5
5.0
 
 
454 Ratings / 3 Reviews
#2,868 All-time
#119 for 2009
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2009 Double Fine EA  
DVD
XNA 0 14633 19368 8
2009 Double Fine EA  
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XNA 0 14633 19367 1 BLUS-30330
2009 Double Fine EA  
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DE 5 030932 076960
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There are games that I love, there are games that I hate, but very few games I hate that I don't love more. Brutal Legend is filed under that unique category - this should totally be up my alley, essentially being a love letter to metal and a proper passion project. It should be a slam-dunk, but the mediocre hack-n-slash and the even worse RTS elements that comprise this game's story missions are just absolutely no fun to get through.
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Jackrb 2022-08-14T12:53:49Z
2022-08-14T12:53:49Z
2.0
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one-of-a-kind dropped
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Brutal Legend was released at the pinpoint perfect time in my life. I know this is hard to believe for a guy that reviews video games on the internet, but I wasn’t exactly the BMOC in school. My middle school days in the late 2000s were a turning point in my social life when I discovered that I was the weird kid in school and probably wouldn’t be dating any cheerleaders in my upcoming adolescent years. What do the weird kids tend to gravitate to when they feel ostracized by their peers? Music, and specifically underground music that their classmates would revile and or cause them bewildered confusion. Let’s face it: metal music is the epitome of this sensation, encapsulating all of the musical themes, tropes, and boisterous musicianship deemed unsavory by the masses. Yet, metal’s inaccessible aesthetic and musicality is exactly why the genre’s community has persisted since its glory days in the 1980s. It’s the reason why I found myself magnetized to its gritty majesty during my early teenage years and ostensibly, the same chord was struck inside LucasArts mainstay and Double Fine founder Tim Schaffer. Already, Tim Schaffer is the ideal developer to task with making the radical notion of a heavy metal video game come to fruition, judging by his legacy of weirdo, auteur-driven cult classics under his belt. From another perspective, putting Tim Schaffer at the helm of a video game based around a niche music subculture is destined to be poison for sales figures. Fortunately, Brutal Legend foresaw this possibility of being a continuation of Tim Schaffer’s shortcomings and ensconced itself with some notable industry heavyweights. If someone wishes to launch their new video game IP into the stratosphere of success, I can’t think of anyone better to bolster that possibility than American gaming wall street sharks EA to publish it. It also doesn’t hurt having A-list Hollywood celebrity Jack Black as the face of your new IP from a marketing standpoint, as he’s the only famous face who champions the spirit of rock music as much as humanly possible with his various projects. With a solid team backing Brutal Legend, Tim Schaffer finally hit his commercial stride and the game ushered in a new wave of interest in the metal genre beyond its legion of committed community members…no, it didn’t. I can’t lie to you, people.

Brutal Legend subtly suggests how passe it is making something revolving around heavy metal music past its days in the 1980’s as a youth subculture. The game’s introduction illustrates the sad state of the genre in the 21st century. Eddie Riggs, who is essentially Jack Black’s ideal version of himself he sees in the mirror to amp up his confidence, is a roadie for the obnoxious, braindead quasi-boy band Kabbage Boy. He cringes and facepalms at their fusion of modern metal with tasteless hip-hop elements and schmaltzy, sugary pop choruses, parallelling everything under the realm of “mallcore” that unfairly defined the heavy metal landscape in 2009. He laments that he was born too late to witness the genre at its inception before it became an embarrassment. A shooting star must’ve flown past the venue within milliseconds of Eddie expressing his metal malaise because before he knows it, the Motorhead-esque Snaggletooth/Warpig set piece he designed comes to life and makes mincemeat out of these scrawny Kabbage Boy clowns. Unfortunately, Eddie does not get to witness the sinister side of his wishes come true because he’s knocked unconscious by a large piece of the stage after saving one of the little pissants from falling. When he awakens, he is transported to an altar where he must dispatch the droning deacons with a mighty battle ax and his guitar Clementine seems to have elemental powers in this new environment. Eddie soon meets up with his metal pixie dream girl Ophelia who enlists him in the rebellion army against a fascist force in this world named Emperor Doviculus who has enslaved humanity.

If you couldn’t tell from the synopsis of Brutal Legend’s opening sequence, the game isn’t merely a lark to converge metal culture and video games: it’s a metalhead’s wet dream sure to cause more nocturnal emissions than Kate Upton wearing a bullet belt as a brasserie. To make every metalhead make a shameful mess in their ripped-up jeans, Jack and Tim had to consider the culture of metal deeply beyond a game full of references to the music groups and their songs. Firstly, Double Fine nailed the metal aesthetic and for those of you who are totally alien to the genre of music, I’m not talking about chain link fences and kitchen utensils. It’s safe to say that metalheads encompass another branch of the nerd family tree, and that’s not a shocking statement if you look past the seemingly tough exterior. Fantasy tropes are interwoven all over the fabric of metal’s visual tapestry. They crank up the testosterone-fueled, power-fantasy elements with a pinch of ghastly hellfire to boot while diminishing the whimsical, folksy elements associated with fantasy to mask its nerdy core. It’s like a marriage between the designs in an offroad tattoo parlor and dungeons and dragons. Brutal Legend’s fantasy realm that Eddie finds himself in after his stupor encapsulates that electric metal atmosphere to a T. The environment is a naturalistic landscape untouched by civilization with its rolling hills and steep, rocky cliffs, with a few paved roads for the convenience of Eddie’s bitchin hot rod. There’s constantly an element of the sublime with constant thundering in the clouds and towering effigies to exude that metal mightiness. The piles of skulls and pits of fire interspersed on the field definitely aid the intended atmosphere, don’t you think? As Eddie travels further across the map, Lionwhyte’s palace, the snowy peaks, and the gothic grave lands might change up the surface aesthetic a tad, but it still provides the same spicy flavor of fantasy landscapes. Brutal Legend looks absolutely incredible.

Of course, a heavy metal game couldn’t possibly hope to be a genuine experience on aesthetics alone. One of the most exciting aspects of Brutal Legend was the reveal of the soundtrack, with a whopping 107 songs to shuffle through. This aspect of Brutal Legend was arguably of the utmost importance, as nothing is more vital to metal than the music. Fucking this up would prove to be disastrous, and potentially out Jack and Tim as posers. Fortunately, they both proved their metal credibility because the selection of metal songs is dynamite. By 2009, metal had evolved and sprouted a myriad of subgenres, so Double Fine had plenty to pick from. Naturally, classic bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Motorhead get a higher precedence not only for their titan-like status as metal pioneers but because members from these bands offer their voice talents to a few of the characters. A few hard rock bands like UFO, Budgie, and Kiss are in the mix for their proto influence on the genre as well. Some classic obscure heavy metal bands featured here include Crimson Glory, Omen, Sanctuary, Brocas Helm, etc. and some NWOBHM bands like Angel Witch and Cloven Hoof should ideally intrigue players into diving deeper into their catalogs via Google. The newer bands on display are ones that emulate the classic metal sounds like Slough Feg and Skeletonwitch. Bands that lean more towards the more modern styles post-1980s are few and far between, with Ministry, Prong, and Marilyn Manson being the representatives here. Some might be alienated if their metal fondness stems from the alternative side, but really, that makes the soundtrack authentic to the metal community. I’m satisfied with the range they’ve covered and I’m impressed with their deep cuts, but not with some genres only having token picks and the extreme metal selections verging in the more melodic/symphonic directions.

Brutal Legend’s gameplay deceived everyone at the time. Given that Eddie brandishes a hulking battle ax and that his guitar now summons magic, everyone assumed that Brutal Legend would be akin to a hack-n-slash action game like God of War. One should’ve expected that Tim Schaffer would never produce anything typical or by the numbers, so the fact that Brutal Legend’s core gameplay mechanic combined with the driving is real-time strategy shouldn’t come as a surprise. This unorthodox decision is exactly why Brutal Legend failed to captivate both gamers and metalheads alike, for it’s as half-baked as that time Metallica collaborated with Lou Reed. Through the unmitigated power of his guitar shredding enacted by simple rhythm-based sections, Eddie will call forth the metalheads battalions to do battle with the opposing forces, dismantling their stage before they penetrate their defenses to do the same. RTS games usually aren’t designed for consoles, for one thing, because the genre tends to involve an intricate array of quick options that functions optimally with a mouse and keyboard. The wheel roulette of sick licks to play to summon the forces of metal works well enough, but there is barely any real strategy involved. Most of the time, spamming any kind of class from the shirtless meatheads with iron skulls to the mammoth creatures with steel tusks will always prove effective. This is a relief because it’s difficult to know what’s going on beneath all of the chaos because the rival factions tend to share too similar of a resemblance to Eddie’s. All of the RTS sections are in one ear and out of the other, and engaging in one to further the story always felt irritatingly distracting from the real appeal of the game. I doubt Brutal Legend would be any more substantive as a hack-n-slash game because fighting as Eddie lacks a certain oomph compared to the chain-wielding of Kratos. That, and the man does not have the capability to jump even an inch off of the ground.

I can’t help but feel like Brutal Legend’s story is more allegorical than anything. Anyone that has a slight knowledge of the history of metal can suss out the subtle identities of Doviculus’s forces by their appearances. The gaudy glam metal forces of Lionwhyte and the mall goth factions mirror the metal communities' distaste for the metal-adjacent genres they represent that have wrongfully (in their eyes) been the de facto faces of metal in the public eye in separate decades. If there’s anything metalheads hate more than Top 40 pop radio consumed by the masses, it’s the “impure” popular genres that creep in and adulterate the metal family tree. Certainly, a story revolving around absolving metal from commercial sin makes the Metalhead fantasy more palpable. However, this premise only works for me if there is a tongue-in-cheek element that is poking fun at the less-than-savory aspects of the metal community, and I don’t think it is. That kind of elitism and groupthink is one of the reasons why I abandoned metal as my favored genre of music for over a decade now.

Ultimately, the allegorical route to Brutal Legend’s story is more interesting than what is happening on the surface. Once the metal rebellion defeats Lionwhyte in his pleasure palace that looks like a perfume grenade went off in Tony Montagna’s mansion, Lars, the most interesting character, dies at the hand of Doviculus. After that, the group travels past the beachy cliffsides to the jungles and misty woods of the gothic factions' territory where Ophelia betrays them by drowning herself in the mystical Sea of Black Tears to become a supernatural force of power for Doviculus. Anyone surprised by this twist needs to crack open the first page of the Story Writing 101 book as the love interest is always the mole in every reveal such as this. A flood of lore is exposited involving Eddie’s destiny in this world due to a familial lineage he was not aware of and how it pertains to vanquishing the threat of Doviculus, which he does by the end of the game. Not only does the story suffer from being a bit rushed because of the game’s quick pacing, but the stakes of Eddie defeating Doviculus in the end were never too severe. He’s not a fish out of water here, but a shark who’s been transported to the vast depths of the ocean after living his life in an aquarium. The metal world is his paradise, not an unnerving strange land he has to acclimate to survive. It would probably be more interesting to see Eddie struggle in the real world where metal is practically kitsch.

Brutal Legend is yet another indication that Tim Schaffer is doomed to never ascend past a cult classic status, even with so much stardom backing his project. In a twist, this might be the first example of poor Tim fumbling on one of his titles because of the questionable quality instead of the unabashed quirkiness that hinders his sales margins. Tim should’ve kept it simple with the story and the gameplay, for even he can’t be so dense not to realize that Brutal Legend’s appeal stems from its concept and theme. When it comes to those aspects, Brutal Legend excels wonderfully as the culture and aesthetic of the metal genre are emulated perfectly. All I enjoyed doing in Brutal Legend was basking in the glory of the setting while driving around and listening to its extensive metal soundtrack. I do understand that releasing a game as bare bones as that would be hard to sell at all, though even to the most zealous of metalheads.
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Erockthestrange 2017-07-21T20:15:55Z
2017-07-21T20:15:55Z
6.0
1
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Brutal Legend starts out as a pretty enjoyable 3rd person slasher, then you're thrown into an open world with side quests that you move around with the car, and eventually the game turns out to be a strategy game about recruiting and managing troops in battle arenas. All this is placed in probably one of the most visually unusual settings in video games - metal-punk, and seasoned, of course, with a specific, but very funny Double Fine humor. Unfortunately, almost everything in the game is done at an average level: fights with enemies are essentially one-button, although the range of combo tricks is large, secondary tasks are monotonous and boring (there is one more or less original in the whole game), and skirmishes in arenas are played according to the principle: Well, lucky like - completed. But despite all this, I don’t really want to scold Brutal Legend: the slash combat is not very annoying, the enemies are not very fat (on normal difficulty) and die quickly, the open world is not that big, you can drive from one edge to the other in a couple of minutes, and there are not so many additional quests (if you complete them immediately as they are opened), and they take the minimum amount of time. In the game, you should probably be afraid only of the battle-arena gameplay, it’s a very controversial thing, and in the end, not everyone will like it, but you can’t miss it, since these are story-driven main missions. I can definitely praise the game for the lore, characters, dialogues, and of course the musical accompaniment: an impressive track list of heavy music playing in the car. I would like to say that Double Fine turned out his original “Mad Max” at minimum wages and advised you to get acquainted with Brutal Legend for the sake of interest, even if you are not a fan of heavy-metal and hard rock.
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thrr 2018-02-19T15:50:00Z
2018-02-19T15:50:00Z
3.0
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oh my lord I was so obsessed with this game in the 5th grade. that scene with whatsherface turning with mr. crowley playing in the back... priceless
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rebelscone 2022-10-15T20:44:18Z
2022-10-15T20:44:18Z
4.0
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I fucking love metal. This game's OST and its first hours it's what I remember most fondly. They surely knew their stuff when making the soundtrack, since it's not purely cannon fodder, nu-metal or alternative metal stuff you kind of expected by default. It actually has some lesser known acts and suprisingly a good bit of extreme metal. It's not GTA IV levels of excitement, but I was really impressed.

Everything else is decent, rushed or straight up bothering. One of the things I appreciate from a game that tries to be real-strategy is how it presents you with every inch of mechanics from both you and your enemies. This is NOT the way you tackle RTS. The campaign never absorbs you around the other two factions, so you are never compelled to even try multiplayer, something RTS games have been doing since their conception.

It's a cool game aesthetically, but I really mean it when the "heavy metal" novelty is the best you can get from it.
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Mur96 2021-06-28T15:34:45Z
2021-06-28T15:34:45Z
3.0
1
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Short and dumb review made for Backloggd long ago
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Console RTS: not even once.

Okay, that's an unfair assessment. In actuality, the variety of units on offer between the three factions is great, even only getting to really see one of them in the story mode, and the simple framework that guides each battle gives clear understanding of goals and strategies. But the story mode, the meat and potatoes of the game, is almost a lie, with the game starting as a hack-and-slash, moving to localised Pikmin-esque strategy and eventually hitting the RTS mould with a lot of missions focused on driving in between. It's not bad, but it's definitely not what most people were hoping for, and more carnage would have fit the metal aesthetic much more, itself a fully realised nightmare come true with a huge soundtrack, all-star cast and plenty of metalhead fanboy charm.
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Lowlander2 2017-09-04T12:12:54Z
2017-09-04T12:12:54Z
3.5
4
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Catalog

Psychochimecho Brütal Legend 2024-06-12T20:57:24Z
2024-06-12T20:57:24Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
azizi Brütal Legend 2024-06-04T23:14:12Z
2024-06-04T23:14:12Z
2.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
PizzapastaButcooler Brütal Legend 2024-05-31T17:09:48Z
2024-05-31T17:09:48Z
2.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Silly_Clown Brütal Legend 2024-05-23T12:40:50Z
2024-05-23T12:40:50Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Bel3 Brütal Legend 2024-05-21T22:24:28Z
Windows / Mac / Linux/Unix
2024-05-21T22:24:28Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Bender161 Brütal Legend 2024-05-13T19:30:21Z
2024-05-13T19:30:21Z
2.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
HeyJulien Brütal Legend 2024-05-09T19:22:47Z
Windows / Mac / Linux/Unix
2024-05-09T19:22:47Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Mission_of_Bruma Brütal Legend 2024-05-07T23:33:44Z
Xbox 360 • XNA
2024-05-07T23:33:44Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Zaknainyon Brütal Legend 2024-05-03T07:11:56Z
2024-05-03T07:11:56Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Steam
SmokeSwag77 Brütal Legend 2024-04-25T13:59:08Z
2024-04-25T13:59:08Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
anms3 Brütal Legend 2024-04-22T23:58:00Z
2024-04-22T23:58:00Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
DarK_RaideR Brütal Legend 2024-04-17T13:14:26Z
2024-04-17T13:14:26Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
ESRB: M
Player modes
1-8 players
Media
1x DVD
Multiplayer modes
Deathmatch / FFA
Multiplayer options
Online

Comments

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  • Previous comments (5) Loading...
  • jarpywarpy 2020-10-21 17:24:09.143851+00
    Darkrecollection’s review is so cringy
    reply
    • SemtexRevolution 2021-06-03 05:36:00.266177+00
      agreed
    • killthepopular 2021-10-30 22:27:00.900858+00
      Yep. Most embarrassing review I've read in a while.
    • Surskit 2022-09-29 16:04:30.071691+00
      "It's cringe, it sucks, everything about it is terrible, I couldn't wait for it to be over"

      5/10
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • TomokoKuroki 2021-05-09 01:00:17.872726+00
    obviously flawed game but with a lot of charm and it holds a special place in my heart. do wish it got more time in development, the end felt rushed like they had to cut off a whole third of the game and compress it all into the last couple missions
    reply
    • Zargoth 2023-11-08 03:52:21.532316+00
      Yes!
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • TheLoneDeranger 2021-07-17 18:47:19.547937+00
    I can't fully get on board with the gameplay, but it's obvious this was a labor of love.
    reply
    • Zargoth 2023-11-08 03:52:28.792221+00
      True.
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • wonkite 2021-08-07 15:32:07.294045+00
    extremely charming overall but the stage battles are godawful
    reply
    • Zargoth 2023-11-08 03:52:46.288294+00
      That's my biggest criticism too.
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • to_noid_or_not_to_noid 2022-01-14 23:35:01.882526+00
    It’s as sincere and charming as you’d expect from Tim Schaffer plus a side of metal worship that’s a lot of fun. So odd that the gameplay elements don’t coalesce, like, at all.
    reply
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  • Kream45 2022-08-03 12:24:43.18451+00
    Damn, people on glitchwave are strict as hell, aren't they. This game gets much more love on sites like Metacritic and Steam...
    reply
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  • Prio 2022-11-04 02:29:03.536066+00
    desperately needs a sequel
    reply
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • EJ_082887 2023-08-22 00:42:46.466791+00
    The graph looks like a metal sign now! \m/
    reply
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