Brütal Legend (XBox 360)

by PaulEMoz

There may be a small amount of cheating going on in my blog this time around... cheating, in that not every game I write about will be a game I have played that day. I've played quite a lot in the time I've slacked off on the writing, so there's some catching up to be done.

Today's is a case in point. I'm writing about Brütal Legend, a game which I no longer even own, but bought on the release date, had my fun with and completed. And once it was over, it was time to pass the torch.

Brütal Legend comes from the more-than-fertile mind of Tim Schafer, the man behind many a gaming classic, with Grim Fandango being arguably his best. Psychonauts was his last game, and Brütal Legend is more in keeping with that than his older adventures.

In case you hadn't heard, Brütal Legend is a game about heavy metal. How many games are more metal than this? The answer is: none. The story actually concerns the best roadie in the world who, upon suffering a seemingly-fatal accident on stage whilst rescuing one of the members of the band he's looking after, actually is trasnported to a faraway land of METAL when his blood seeps into his demonic belt buckle. Fantastic.

It must have been a difficult job casting the part of the lead character. You would want someone who's an actor by trade, but who loves videogames and who's sufficiently steeped in the lore of metal that he'd throw himself wholeheartedly into the part. Fortunately for Tim Schafer, Jack Black fits that description to a T, and it's obvious that he had a blast making this game. Then again, who wouldn't when they make the lead character basically a much more awesome version of yourself?

There are other familiar faces and voices here, voices plucked from the heavy metal fraternity and who do a pretty good job. Lemmy is always a welcome sight and sound, and he has a decent role here. Lita Ford and Rob Halford show up too. But perhaps the biggest revelation here for me is Ozzy Osbourne. I'm not an Ozzy fan - I don't like his singing and I'm bored with his antics. But in this game, he's surprisingly funny. OK, so he's just reading the lines he was given, but they're all delivered in a very entertaining manner.

Supercharged and flying low, liquid dynamite...

The game itself is a mish-mash of styles... part Golden Axe, part Batman (I say that because driving your awesome car, The Deuce, feels similar to the classic Amiga Batman game), part Pokemon (there are loads of things to collect) and part RTS. That last bit worried me, because I hate RTS games, but it's really simplified and not too difficult to get on with at all.

A final word must go to the landscape that the game takes place in. It's a truly fantastic world, designed to look like every fantasy heavy metal album cover ever. And it does a fantastic job of getting that across... from howling metal beasts to distant volcanos, stark landscapes to breathtaking iconic vistas, the feeling of immersion in a fantasy world is complete.

With a cracking sense of humour, a huge heavy metal soundtrack and a nice variety of game styles set across a game that is neither too difficult nor too long, Brütal Legend is a game I'm very happy to have in this world. I feel a bit of a traitor to my metal brethren for having sold it, but in time, I will return...