Review: Brutal Legend

Russ Pitts | 13 Oct 2009 09:00
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Playing Brutal Legend is like living in the world of the bombastic doodling in the margins of a heavy metal-obsessed teenager's high school notebook. Which is not entirely a bad thing.

To understand the story and mythology behind Brutal Legend, imagine if the world sung about and depicted on the album covers of every heavy metal band in existence were real. Imagine if there really was a place where Norse mythology blended seamlessly with the counter-culture of hot rods and motor bikes, and leather-clad warriors clashed in glorious battle to the screaming siren song of multi-part falsetto harmonies and orgiastic explosions of squealy guitars. That world, in a nut shell, is Brutal Legend.

You play as Eddie Riggs, underappreciated roadie for a lackluster band until fate conspires to propel him into another world, where he meets Lita and Lars Halford, the erstwhile leaders of a rebellion against the forces of General Lionwhyte. Lionwhyte's army of pink spandex-clad hair bangers has ravaged the land, depriving mankind of the glorious music of the Titans, aka "Heavy Metal," and, until Eddie arrives, all hope seems lost.

Tapping his vast stores of practical roadie knowledge, Eddie teaches the Halfords how to wield the mysterious remnants of the great beast Ormagoden, using his metal bones to forge weapons and build mighty chariots, and uses his guitar and mighty axe to wage glorious battle. He then starts a band called "Ironheade" and leads them on a quest to reclaim the land in the name of metal.

Seriously, that's the game. It stars infamous music fan and funny guy Jack Black as Eddie, and a spattering of real-life metal musicians in supporting roles. Ozzy Osbourne even makes an appearance as "The Guardian of Metal" who tends the "Motor Forge" where Eddie can purchase upgrades to his weapons and improve his vehicle, known as "Druid Chariot" or "The Deuce."

The Deuce is worth mentioning here, as you will most likely spend more than half your playing time behind its wheel, tooling around, seeing the sights, listening to unlockable heavy metal songs, collecting various collectibles and completing missions. The Deuce is probably one of the most entertaining videogame vehicles ever devised. The driving physics aren't particularly realistic (you can move forward while all four wheels are out of contact with the ground, for example), but with its flame-spurting exhaust pipes, front-mounted machine guns, nitrous boosters and customizable paint jobs, it's more-or-less the platonic ideal of heavy metal roadsters.

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