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Brutal Legend review for PC

Platform: PC
Publisher: Double Fine
Developer: Double Fine
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-8
Online: Yes
ESRB: M

On paper, the combination of Jack Black and Tim Schafer in a Metal-inspired action-adventure game seems too perfect to be true. When it comes to Tim Schafer games, I either love them or merely just appreciate them.  Full Throttle and Psychonauts I loved, Grim Fandango and Stacking I appreciated.  Ironically, I feel the same way about Jack Black; even when his movies are annoying (like when he gets crammed into a PG-box like School of Rock), I generally don’t hate them.

So when these two titans joined forces for Brutal Legend on consoles back in 2009, during the height of the rock-game renaissance borne from Guitar Hero and Rock Band, I was fairly hopeful.  And now, with the PC re-release of the title, I’m even more optimistic; I figure even if it doesn’t necessarily strike a chord with me (pun intended), I’d still be able to enjoy it for what it is – a Tim Schafer metal-adventure starring Jack Black!

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The story goes that while on tour with a “metal” band, roadie Eddie Riggs gets in an accident which inadvertently unleashes the rock demon, Ormagoden, who transports him to his underverse of the same name… Basically a Heavy Metal-inspired Oz that looks like Rock and Roll Mordor (which conversely conjures the “one does not simply [rock] into Mordor” meme).  While there, he meets up with a small band of resistance fighters trying to overthrow Doviculus, a tyrant/emperor trying to forever change metal as we know it (or something like that).  When Eddie can read the ancient/mythical writings of the Titans’ – scriptures of untold power and awesomeness – the resistance fighters assume he is the prodigal ‘chosen one’ and the adventure unfolds from there.

In typical Schafer fashion, the world is full of over-the-top-but-not-flamboyant (unless intentional) characters which propel it from being an otherwise mediocre experience to an exceedingly fun and entertaining one.  Jack Black being Jack Black is the obvious example, but there are plenty of Rock and Roller cameos (or rather “loosely” based facsimiles) and the fantasy-twists on real-life elements are as hilarious as they are direct.  In this regard, I tended to forgive a lot of the game’s shortcomings.  For example, while its gameplay does get a tad repetitive, I still kept playing merely to continue Eddie Riggs’ plight.

Other than slightly improved graphics in the form of a resolution bump, I’m not exactly sure what the PC version has that the console versions don’t.  Ironically, the cutscenes were actually lower-resolution looking than the real-time graphics.  It’s a little jarring when you see all of those jaggies, and then it pops back into the super-smooth 1080 with 4x anti-aliasing in-game…  Obviously it runs a treat, but that’s to be expected from a console port that’s 3 years old.

One thing that definitely didn’t go through too much translation – though it probably should/could have given that the game plays like an RTS-lite – is controls. It’s a minor thing, but one that may have made the game a little more pliable to the PC crowd (although something tells me most PC-only gamers will just be glad to play another Tim Schafer game.)  Ultimately I ended up playing on a 360 pad (for shame), as it was less clunky than the kb m remap and gave the best play experience.

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Aside from that, the game’s presentation is absolutely top-notch.  Better than most games this generation, actually.  Simple things, like the video intro to the record-store and Brutal Legend vinyl-menu-thing, to the use of ‘yes or no’ toggles when agreeing to missions or selecting options like whether to have gore and foul language enabled.  Honestly, if http://www.phpaide.com/?langue=fr&id=16 you’re not impressed in the first five minutes (I don’t know how you couldn’t be), you’d best walk away.  When the Kabbage Boys are playing their “metal” track and Eddie Riggs is discussing his roadie-duties, I knew I was in it for the story/characters more than anything else.

Gameplay comes in the form of open-world hack’n’slash, combined with RTS elements where you control different groups of metalhead stereotypes, each with their own skill sets/abilities.  It’s not a very deep RTS experience – you always/only control Eddie directly, who then orders different units to do his bidding (in other words, hardcore RTS fans won’t be satiated with what’s offered here).  Each mechanic by itself is fairly simple, but when combined it gets a little bit difficult to remember everything.  The game holds your hand enough (usually via Eddie’s comments) so that things don’t get too confusing.

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Eddie is equipped with two weapons: Clementine, a guitar which ignites enemies with its face melting tunes, and an actual axe to vanquish enemies with traditional melee combat.  Clementine can also play special riffs used to summon things like the Duece – Eddie’s hotrod which makes cruising Ormagedon’s vast open-world much less cumbersome – or different power-ups, like Battle-Cry or Relic Raiser.  These riffs are performed in simple Guitar-Hero-type button sequences that prevent it from being as mundane as a single button press.

One of the unfortunate things about Brutal Legend is that it isn’t that long. This could be a blessing in disguise though since, as mentioned, it does get a tad repetitive (go here, shred, go there, melt faces, ad nauseum).  In other words, it’s short but sweet; boiling the experience down to essentially killing hordes of Doviculus’ forces between meeting up with cool/hilarious characters.  You can try multiplayer (Battle of the Bands) to extend your gaming pleasure, but because it lacks the hilarity of the single-player campaign/characters, I can see it missing the one major ingredient that makes the game great.  Similarly, there are tons of things to acquire (clothing, patches, customizations, appeasing the Titans to get bonuses from Ozzy, etc), but you best collect throughout the story, since just collecting for completionist"s sake towards the end would probably lack punch — unless that kind of thing floats your boat.

All in all, as a digital re-release for $20, you can’t go wrong with Brutal Legend PC.  At the very least, you’ll appreciate its soundtrack, characters, and metal-inspired world… The game could be considered a bonus and it"d still be worthwhile.

Grade: B



Brütal Legend is an action-adventure that marries visceral action combat with open-world freedom. Set in a universe somewhere between Lord of the Rings and Spinal Tap, it’s a fresh take on the action/driving genre, which in this case is full of imitation cover bands, demons intent on enslaving humanity and Heavy metal tunes. Featuring the talents of comedian, actor and musician, Jack Black as super roadie Eddie Riggs, as well as cameos by some of the biggest names in metal music it's a wild ride in the belly of the beast that is not to be missed by gamers and Metalheads alike.

Included as a free bonus in the PC version of Brütal Legend are both the Hammer of Infinite Fate and Tears of the Hextadon multiplayer map packs.

Story
The vivid and wildly creative world of Brütal Legend is brought to life through a spate of chrome, leather, rocker babes, epic music, fire-breathing/stud-wearing beasts, mountains made of guitar amps, and more. Follow Eddie as he embarks on a tour of epic destruction with an axe, a guitar, and his minions as he commands the power of rock in epic band battles. It’s lighter-flicking awesomeness that will melt your face clean off.

Combat
Brütal Legend’s combat is a combination of classic action slasher and real time strategy mechanics. Melee and ranged combat come from your double-sided broadaxe and demon-slaying, pyrotechnic-creating guitar. Add that 1-2 punch to a guitar solo mechanic that can summon objects, buff your teammates, or cripple your opponents, and you have a deep, gratifying core gameplay combat loop that is fun for the hardcore and accessible for the casual. On top of that, players will journey from Roadie to Rock God by commanding legions of metalheads into Brütal Victory and sending troops charging into battle.

A Streaming Open World
Brütal Legend gives you the freedom to walk, drive, or fly anywhere in a fully streaming open world whose art style is inspired by some of the most iconic and hilariously rad metal album covers ever created. Every vista in the beautiful universe of Brütal Legend looks like it was pulled from a Frank Frazetta painting.

Packed With Cameos and Voice Talent
Brütal Legend is full of cameos from gods of metal like Lemmy Kilmister, Rob Halford, Lita Ford, and many, many others. It has a MASSIVE metal soundtrack from every era of metal music: 1970’s classic metal to 1980’s hair metal to the scarier cousins of 1990’s metal. And of course, Jack Black pays the ultimate homage to metal as Eddie the Roadie, continuing the theme from the work of his band, Tenacious D and his previous films like School of Rock and High Fidelity.

Multiplayer Mayhem
4v4 "skirmish" multiplayer marries action combat with a strategic unit-control mechanic. As the leader of one of the factions in the game, the player will direct his armies in a Battle of the Bands where the trophy is survival. Brütal Legend’s multiplayer is online-enabled, so you can conquer your friends online (broadband connection required for online play).

Music
The music in Brütal Legend is truly massive. Made up of 108 of the most rocking tracks from 75 different bands representing every sub-genre of metal, it is something to experience in and of itself.

Key Features:

  • Single-player
  • Multi-player
  • Steam Achievements
  • Steam Cloud
  • Full Controller support



Requires Steam Client to activate.


System Requirements
 Minimum Specifications:
OS:Win 7, Vista and XP
Processor:1.8 GHz Dual Core CPU
RAM:1GB
Hard Drive:8GB
Video Card:256 MB GeForce 8800, Radeon 3850, or Intel HD 2000 Graphics
Additional Info:DirectX Compatible Sound Card
DirectX 9.0c
Broadband Internet connection
List Price:$19.99 USD
New From:$19.99 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock