When I sat down to play Brutal Legend for a review, I was pretty enthusiastic.  I figured, between Jack Black's shenanigans and the cool concept art I had seen, this game was going to be good.  A few days earlier I had even downloaded the demo on the Playstation Network and found myself laughing through most of the tutorial.  Basically, I was ready to be wowed.  Unfortunately, what I found Brutal Legend to be was altogether similar to the title itself, just plain Brutal.  So Brutal in fact that I decided to not even warrant the game with a game review, but instead blog my experience.

 

Does the game have "cool factor?"  Definitely.  You can't get much cooler than DoubleFine's heavy metal inspired fantasy land of chrome monsters and guitar riff super powers.  The cool factor was practically break out of the screen. But, like so many games before, cool factor doesn't mean a thing when gameplay lacks as severely as it does in Brutal Legend.  Now, to be fair, when I say that I'm directly speaking to what EA markets this game as.  EA pushes this title as an action-adventure real time strategy game and that's how I am judging it.  If EA had presented this game as a mindless hack-n-slash title, I would be happy with it (though not excited, mainly because I'm not a big fan of the hack-n-slash genre).

First and foremost, Brutal Legend is NOT a Real Time Strategy game.  Sorry, it's just not.  Running around hacking baddies to bits while now and then directing a squad of head banging thugs (ridiculously annoying in their own right) to hack someone up you don't otherwise feel like hacking at yourself does not constitute a RTS.  Does it have elements of Real Time Strategy?  Absolutely!  But as a RTS it fails miserably.  The squads don't react quite like they should and honestly you end up doing it almost entirely by yourself anyway.

If you enjoy mindless hack-n-slash action (that is, a game where you just run around and kill enemy after enemy without strategy or much thought to it) then this game is for you.  I'm not condemning hack-n-slash by calling it mindless, but rather differentiating this gameplay from the hack-n-slash titles that require some strategy.  There is a story though, and there are side stories to some degree as well.  You drive vehicles and play your guitar, call down lightning and fire, etc.  It's all of the things a good heavy metal game should have (as if a standard had ever been set), but it's not much more than a "good try" gameplay wise.

p>For those interested in content that might be offensive, there's lots in Brutal Legend.  Heavy Metal's ongoing obsession with hell shines through.  In fact, the land you play in very much resembles some type of crazy hell where you battle with the power of rock to please deities of rock.  The good news is, this is all done in a cartoony environment that's so ridiculously fantastical that anything it presents is at least done in a purely fictional manner.  Also, you can turn off the foul language and gore, two surprising settings that can assist in not offending someone.

The Official Games and Theory Rating: 6/10: Don't bother playing past the first thirty minutes.