Brütal Legend, not so much

I expected to be blown away by Brütal Legend. I loved Tim Schafer’s Psychonauts, I like heavy metal music, and I thought the game looked hysterical in press releases. I bought it the day it came out (after Psychonauts was tragically undersold, I thought I should support Schafer’s latest release). I played it for two, maybe three days, and haven’t picked it up since.

I want to, but I just. can’t. bring myself to go back while there are other excellent games to play. And books to read. And places to go. And RuPaul’s Drag Race is airing…

I will force myself to finish and give a full review of this game someday. For now, here’s my barely-started-then-quit impressions.

The voice acting in this game is fantastic. I’m picky about that in my games, and I was impressed by what I heard in this one. Jack Black doesn’t sound typically “Jack Black-ish” in the dialog. I’ve got no problem with Jack Black, but I didn’t want his image in my mind throughout the entire game. I could only recognize Black’s voice in a few one-liners during gameplay. Jennifer Hale, whose excellence knows no bounds, voices the lead female character. And the cameos! Dear lord, I thought I would die with laughter over the appearances of metal big-wigs who lent their voices to humorous scenes.

The world of Brütal Legend is gorgeous, in an eighties metal music video kind of way. I enjoyed the landmarks and creatures of the metal world Eddie Riggs finds himself in, and really dug driving around to an excellent soundtrack that fit the place perfectly.

But. And it’s a big BUT. I disliked the fighting system. Fighting with Eddie alone was very repetitive. Switching back and forth between a guitar and a battle-axe, I pressed the same buttons over, and over, against a hoard of enemies. I thought things would improve once I drafted some headbangers into my army, but instead grew more frustrated. On side missions in which I fought groups of baddies with the headbangers, I could only succeed by sending them to run away from the enemies and killing each and every bad guy myself. If I let my allies stay near the enemies for more than a nanosecond, they died (and lost me the mission). Things didn’t improve much when I recruited Razor Girls; the process of obtaining them was fairly hellacious and I didn’t find their presence very rewarding.

And the driving. I originally sucked at driving the Warthog around in Halo. I dealt better with the Mako in Mass Effect because I couldn’t flip it over. After practicing (extensively) on those two I could get around in Brütal Legend’s Deuce, but getting around was the least of my worries. I handily beat races in which I followed a moving spotlight to various points on the map, but I didn’t enjoy it. I hated hunting, which required me to go out and try to run over a certain number of small, much-more-nimble-than-the-Deuce creatures scattered around the terrain. After I squished the allotted amount, I had to drive alllll the way back to a certain point on the map to report my kills and get credit. I really hated hunting.

Nonetheless, I lasted up until my first strategy battle, where I spent most of my time trying to outrun my forces and kill the enemy first so those on my team wouldn’t be obliterated. Then I put the game away, meant to go back and finish it, forgot, then remembered, didn’t want to, and suddenly it’s four months later and I still have no desire to pick it up again.

Here’s what kills me: the cutscenes in Brütal Legend are HILARIOUS. I want to witness the story arc of this game so badly—but I don’t want to have to play it to do so. One day I’ll sit down with a copious supply of alcohol, turn this game down to the easiest level it offers, hold my nose, and play all the battles so I can enjoy the cutscenes. Until that day comes, you won’t hear more about Brütal Legend from me. And that’s a damned shame.

We will meet again, Brütal Legend. Some day when I'm really, really bored.


3 Responses to “Brütal Legend, not so much”

  1. 1 Merte
    February 16, 2010 at 6:50 am

    I agree with you. The story is funny and interesting and I want to experience it. But the game is just not fun to play. Especially the stage battles are terrible.

  2. 2 BLAM
    May 2, 2010 at 11:55 am

    I just bought Brutal Legend a few days ago and I haven’t been able to put it down. I enjoy the battles and can spend hours cruising around in the Deuce listening to tunes and running shit over. Of course I have yet to play while even close to being sober so that might have something to do with it.

    • May 2, 2010 at 6:08 pm

      Haha! Sometimes a little alcohol can help a game out a lot. I’m glad you enjoy it; I really, really wanted to like it, but I guess strategy battles just aren’t for me.

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