'Brutal Legend' Hands-On Preview


Posted May 14, 2009 - By Paul Semel

'Brütal Legend' Hands-On Preview

Much has been made of Brutal Legend, the upcoming action game from infamously unappreciated game developer Tim Schafer, though mostly from disgruntled Psychonauts fans and people really into Jack Black, who does the voice of Brutal’s main character. The problem is that while the trailers have made the game look funny, there wasn’t enough shown of the actual gameplay to tell whether or not it would be fun. Or even what kind of game it is going to be. But recently Schafer and EA (who will publish the game on October, sorry Rocktober 13) have been showing the game off, including at an event EA held at their Los Angeles offices last week.

As we’ve all seen from the trailers, the game revolves around Eddie Riggs, a Glen Danzig-looking roadie who gets sucked into an ancient world that looks like it was designed by Frank Frazetta, the American fantasy and sci-fi artist who’s done album covers for Wolfmother, Nazareth, and Molly Hatchet. But while the trailers showed a deep respect for heavy metal culture, and plenty of good humor from Black, it’s only recently that we’ve gotten to see that the gameplay will be a mix of hack & slash action, driving, and Pikmin/Overlord-style minion control.

'Brütal Legend' Hands-On Preview

Showing off the beginning of the game, we watched as Eddie whacked a bunch of weird demonic dudes with an axe, and then electrocuted others by strumming on his guitar. We also saw him drive the highway to hell, running over more demons with impunity, and then use magic to free some slaves…who then did whatever he said. Though being a game this metal, casting spells wasn’t about having the right amount of newt eye, but by hitting the right notes in a guitar solo.

Schafer also showed how the game would employ an open world structure, complete with side quests and places you’ll want to return to when you’re stronger. Getting around is made somewhat easy, though, in that your car can be magically summoned, while the turn signals always direct you to whatever objective on the map you’ve selected. Both of which are standard on the new Ford Taurus. Have you driven a Ford lately?

'Brütal Legend' Hands-On Preview

As for the Pikmin/Overlord-style minion bossing around, these moments don’t apparently dominate the game, but do come in when there’s a big battle to be fought. In those instances, Eddie and his pals construct a stage, which then lets them call forth a variety of different kinds of minions, depending on who he’s freed up to that point. How big his army can get actually depends on, wait for it, the number of merch stands you build. But don’t worry, the game never becomes very real-time strategy-esque; you’re still out there hacking and slashing like a good soldier.

While this all might sound a bit silly, and it is (but in a good way), the game is still very serious about its metal. Not only does it feature both Lemmy from Mötorhead and Rob Halford of Judas Priest in big roles, but there are plenty of in-jokes that will get a chuckle from any true metal head, such as naming a bad guy Lionwhyte. And that’s not even counting the game’s musical score. While we can’t mention any specific songs, since the legal wrangling is still ongoing, if the tunes we heard are any indication, this game will rock like Guitar Hero: Metallica. (And no, that’s not a hint. Really.) Especially since the game’s score used orchestral versions of metal songs for background effect, with the real version of that song coming in loud and proud when a battle begins.

'Brütal Legend' Hands-On Preview

Whether this will all add up to something that rawks like ’tallica or sucks like Celine Dion’s cover of AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” still remains to be seen, since we didn’t get a chance to play the game ourselves. Though after seeing the demo, we know which way we’re leaning.

'Brutal Legend' Hands-On Preview


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