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Brutal Legend
Playstation 3, XBox 360

Reviewed on: XBox 360

Double Fine Productions
Publisher: EA Games
Rated: "M" for Mature

CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
CHEATfactor: 6

Tim Schaefer has long been considered to be one of the gaming industry’s best kept secrets. His past games, like Maniac Mansion, The Secret of Monkey Island and Grim Fandango have achieved cult status among gamers and his 2005 Xbox title Psychonauts is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most underappreciated titles of the last ten years.

Schaefer’s latest game, Brutal Legend however is a different beast entirely.  Rather than merely getting promoted in the gaming press, the game has enjoyed quite a bit of mainstream coverage including the MTV Music Awards and an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Is Brutal Legend enough to transform Schaefer, an unquestioned force in the game industry to a full blown media darling? That answer may not be so simple, but Brutal Legend is an incredibly fun and inventive title that blends genres together seamlessly, giving players a unique, yet flawed experience.

The best way to describe Brutal Legend is as an open-world adventure title with real time strategy elements and a twist of squad based combat. Got all that? To make things easier – it’s best to compare the core gameplay of Brutal Legend to that of the Grand Theft Auto series. No, you won’t be picking up hookers and jacking cars, but the philosophies are the same. You’re given an open world to explore, and you drive around to complete missions and objectives. Also much like Rockstar’s crime simulator, the world Tim Schaefer and the team behind Brutal Legend have created is well worth exploring.  It just would have been nice to have a map you could access without leaving gameplay to do so. You’ll find quite the difference in scenery throughout the world – from green grass and flowers to areas dotted with skulls and flames.  And while the world isn’t dotted with citizens going about their daily business like in Liberty City, the world is densely populated with savage beasts and interesting characters that make exploring the world so much more interesting.

"...just being in the world is incredibly fun."


This in essence is Brutal Legend’s biggest strength – just being in the world is incredibly fun. Remember back in the 90s when MTV had all of those cool animated shows like Aeon Flux and Cartoon Sushi? The world Double Fine created feels like it’s been plucked right from these shows. The story of Brutal Legend casts players in the role of Eddie Riggs, a roadie voiced by Jack Black who get’s transported into a world that looks like it’s straight out of heavy metal album covers.  I’m normally not a fan of big-time celebrities voicing game characters as it takes away from the believability, but Black’s performance is a bit more subdued than his normal antics, giving Riggs a personality all his own.

Brutal Legend’s story is aided by a world of likeable and interesting characters that will make you want to play through the game quickly. A number of these characters are portrayed by actual heavy metal superstars like Lemmy from Motorhead, Lita Ford and even a strangely coherent Ozzy Ozbourne. Add to this, the fact that the animations in Brutal Legend are top-notch, along with some incredible textures and visuals and you have one of the year’s best looking games.

Throughout most of the game, you’ll find yourself hacking and slashing at enemies from executioners to weird skull monks but there’s much more to the gameplay than that. Missions will have you doing everything from escorting to trying to build an army. The truly unique moments come in the game’s battle sequences, which in respect to Schaefer’s statement that the game is not a real time strategy game; we’ll call RTS-esque. The game’s major battles take the form of rock concerts, and the goal is to garner more fans than your enemies. How exactly do you do this? Managing your armies and trying to secure goal-points (known here as merch booths) for your squad. Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s basically an RTS – but they key here is that you’re going to be able to jump in and use the game’s hack and slash style combat to win the battles, rather than just managing your armies.

"...may be a little bit thrown off by the RTS style gameplay elements."


While these elements are fun, they could do more to hurt the game than help it in the long run. Taking a look at all of the mainstream attention the game has been getting, it’s clearly being marketed as a beat-em-up and those not closely watching the industry may be a little bit thrown off by the RTS style gameplay elements. Furthermore, I didn’t feel the game gave enough instruction on just what I was trying to do. Was the objective to capture all of the merch booths? Or should I be focusing my attention on the enemies coming my way? Sure, one could argue that that problem solving is the very philosophy behind Real Time Strategy Games but there’s a world of difference here between a gamer who picks up Brutal Legend and one who’s been playing Civilization for years.

To say Brutal Legend’s online suite is a bit lacking would be an understatement. The RTS-esque style battles described in the paragraph above? Yeah, that’s the game’s multiplayer features in a nutshell. Players choose between one of the game’s factions and compete against each other in skirmish style battles.  It is interesting to play as the game’s villains, but you can’t help but feel like the multiplayer aspects are just tacked on. There’s a lot of room for more modes here, let’s hope we see some DLC down the road.

Make no mistake, even with its flaws Brutal Legend is one of this year’s best games. It’s imaginative, enjoyable and rewarding – but then again, what else would you expect from Schaefer? It may not make him a household name, but it is enough to add another unique hit under his belt. Metal fan or not, everyone needs to experience Brutal Legend for themselves. 



CHEATS USED: Tips and Strategies

I’m not going to lie to you – there’s not much here. As of this writing, we weren’t able to find any cheats and codes for Brutal Legend. What would we like to see? We’d like to see some cheats for unlimited fire tributes (the game’s form of currency), unlocking all weapons and upgrades and even a way to win battles instantly.

We were able to find a number of helpful hints and strategy’s for different aspects of the game including the massive RTS-esque battles that came right from Tim Schaefer. Make sure to stick with as more cheats become available.



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