Brutal Legend Multiplayer First Hands-OnBy Abbie Heppe - Posted Aug 17, 2009
The biggest surprise about Brütal Legend’s multiplayer is that, according to creator Tim Schafer, it was the first part of the game to be developed. What a relief for gamers like myself that loathe haplessly tacked-on multiplayer modes. Coming up in second place on the surprise scale is how carefully it treads into the realm of the RTS genre without alienating gamers that run screaming from those three letters. Admittedly, I rarely tread into the world of real-time strategy, but Brütal seems to wrap it into an engaging and accessible package.
How It’s Played
Brütal’s multiplayer is a four-on-four affair (or less if you choose), in which players select one of three factions and attempt to capture fans, protect their stage and destroy their opponent’s stage. Once you finish the single player campaign, you should have an idea of how these battles play out. You play as the head of your chosen faction, surveying the battlefield from the air, directing your forces and jumping down to the battlefield to attack foes directly or team up with your special units for spectacular double-teamed attacks. You can also use your stage to shroud the battlefield in smoke, heal, zap enemies with the lighting rig or blast your opponent’s troops back with the amps. Capturing the fan geysers gives you more resources, and while resources are shared between your teammates, you can save them to earn more powerful minions or upgrade your stage. You also have the ability to play guitar solos that rally your troops to battle, provide bonuses, summon vehicles and earn you additional perks. You aren’t immortal though: if you die on the battlefield you’ll respawn back at your stage, and the other team will win over some of your fans.
The Biggest Battle of the Bands Ever?
The Drowning Doom – I very clearly gravitate to this faction, which encompasses the darker, gothier side of the metal genre. Complete with hearses, organs, gravediggers and gloomy brides, this team is lead by Ophelia, whom you meet in the single player portion of the game as well. I am obligated to mention that this faction has my absolute favorite double-team attack: If you summon the Ratgut and team with him, he’ll vomit rats all over the battlefield. You then control the rats and swarm over the enemy, destroying everything in your path.
Ironheade – This faction is led by single-player hero Eddie Riggs, and is probably the most friendly to inexperienced users. You use the headbangers, bouncers and groupies, or summon wild animals to attack your foes. Again, if you play single player first, you should be immediately familiar with the units at your disposal.
The Tainted Coil – Led by Lord Doviculus (voiced by Tim Curry) this faction seems to be geared to more experienced players. You’re limited in the number of troops you can spawn early in the match, but those troops will spawn more troops and there are some incredibly powerful higher-level minions that can swing the battle in your favor. It may take more time to become adept with the Tainted Coil, but the unique characters and abilities make it very tempting indeed. Who needs cars? You can team up to ride the Punishing Party and dash through troops while pulling spears from the back of the beast and smiting your foes.
From the time I grabbed a controller, it became evident that multiplayer was the first element of Brütal Legend to come together. The controls are well thought-out and accessible, the gameplay is smooth and with just a bit of advice from the Double Fine crew, Morgan Webb and I were dominating the battlefield with the Drowning Doom, she with her enviable RTS skills and me with my…army of rats. Even with no mini-map for guidance, the transition from skies to ground works seamlessly, and lets you survey the map efficiently while an indicator lets you know when your troops are in trouble. And yes, even though RTS games scare me, I’m a huge fan of team and class-based multiplayer (like Team Fortress 2) and I think anyone with that skill set won’t take long to grasp the concepts here. With the fast paced action and ability to fight your opponent’s troops directly, you’ll feel as if you’re getting your hack-n-slash and strategy all in one neat package. I’m still a little floored at what an unexpected surprise the multiplayer in Brütal turned out to be, and cannot wait to start playing online in Rocktober.