Does Metal Live On In This Tim Schafer Title Complete With Jack Black Or Does Brutal Legend Fall Flat?

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The Legend of Awesome Brutal Awesomeness (5 out of 5)

If you’ve been hanging around Bright Hub for a while now, you’ll know that my love of Tim Schafer’s quirky, comedic games, stretching all the way back into the 80’s is no secret. Tim Schafer makes amazing games with an even better sense of humor and sense of place. The latest offering from his studio, Double-Fine productions is called Brutal Legend. And, of course, he adds Jack Black into the mix on Brutal Legend. Does it fit in the pantheon of gaming classics like Grim Fandango and Full Throttle, or does it strike all the wrong notes?

Gameplay in Brutal Legend (5 out of 5)

The gameplay here in Brutal Legend is a bit “schizophrenic” (which is a misnomer, as the correct term would actually be some form of MPD, or multiple personality disorder). The game plays simultaneously as a third-person action-adventure, a third-person open world adventure, and a real-time strategy game. The obvious highlights are in the first two parts of that equation, but the real-time strategy aspect of the game isn’t nearly as bad as other reviewers are making it out to seem, particularly because of the cleverness with which the system is set up. You collect “fans” from geysers in the ground and that powers your base’s production of units, such as head-bangers, rocker chicks, and various others, which in itself is pretty fun to do. And, with the voice over comments of Jack Black, wow, who could ask for better with this type of game?

The action-adventure part of Brutal Legend is exciting and has enough customization to support it for the duration of the game. But the RTS is a risk that I’m glad Schafer’s team decided to take – it spices up the gameplay in unexpected ways and gives you a totally different experience from the large number of side missions in the game.

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Is There A Story Line In Brutal Legend? (5 out of 5)

I could spend a whole page just talking about the great story that Brutal Legend presents. This Tim Schafer game starts off with a brilliantly conceived idea of sending a “metal band” roadie into the fantastical world of the metal album covers that those of us who grew up listening to the source material remember fondly. Everything is here – the epic storyline spanning the creation of an army to fight a foe that looks straight out of an Ozzy Osbourne cover - with Jack Black at the helm.

The world itself in Brutal Legend feels rich and has a great history behind it (assuming you’re willing to seek it out). Little pieces of metal history lay littered across the landscape – everything from giant motors to statues of crosses and metal icons give you a background as you’re driving down the main highways in the game. The cut-scenes are all in-game, but look phenomenal and work to continue driving the story forward. Gameplay segments in the main story are always exciting and interesting, whether you’re racing towards the next objective or strategically thinking of a way to combat an approaching army.

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Sound And Audio Including Jack Black (5 out of 5)

With a game like Brutal Legend, I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t talk about the sound design of the game. The metal songs that the team over at Double-Fine managed to grab hit all the perfect notes during the story missions and while you’re out roaming the world, killing mythical beasts and taking on side quests. You feel like you’re in a world fully realized in Brutal Legend – a world right out of the world of metal.

The other side to the sound design has to do with the voice acting, which is probably the best voice acting I’ve heard all year. Jack Black as Eddie Riggs manages to stay captivating throughout the entire experience, and the voice truly feels like it’s coming out of the character. Other metal icons, like Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy Kilmister, and Lita Ford all lend their “acting talent” to the roles, and other than a few weird scenes, they hit it off perfectly, especially Ozzy as the shopkeeper - which is all too funny and perfect Tim Schafer style for this game. With all of the big names in this Jack Black video game, it’s easy to see why it’s fun to listen to this one with the sounds on for once.

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Final Thoughts Over Brutal Legend (5 out of 5)

Brutal Legend is not a game for everyone – just like every other Tim Schafer produced game ever made. Those who are fans of Tim Schafer’s work (like myself) will find plenty to love here, from the style of humor we’ve come to enjoy in his games to the way the world has been fully fleshed out. Be warned though, if you are not a fan of metal or metal spoofs or Jack Black, you’re going to be spending a lot of time listening to the songs and listening to parody about the music style. This is clearly fan service for those of us who spent their teenage years listening to Iron Maiden going on about the “Number of the Beast” while realizing what a ridiculous thing it was for a music group to be singing about. But, if you love all of these aspects - or even think you might, Brutal Legend is one great Xbox 360 game that you should pick up.

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