Super quick look at Brutal Legend

So the hype for Brutal Legend was kind of off the charts running up to release, but suspiciously enough, there was a review embargo up right until launch day. That’s generally a bad sign.

And now that the embargo is lifted, reviews seem kind of mixed. Tom Chick at Fidgit loves the game, whereas Ars says it is “more opening band than headliner.” The metacritic score is hovering around 84 last time I looked, which is good, not great.

Everyone seems to think the voice talent is great and the theme of the game is a lot of fun, but where opinions diverge is in the actual gameplay and polish. I got the game yesterday and put in a couple of hours and thought I’d just share my very early experience. I opted for the Xbox 360 version since I knew Uncharted 2 was going to live in the PS3 for the next few weeks (and I’m too lazy to get up and switch disks)!

So let’s get the bad stuff out of the way. The game locked up tight on me once; I had to power down the Xbox manually — the controller had become unresponsive. This was early in the game, during the same content we played through in the demo. It only happened once, but it was still cause for concern. My only other real gripe is that the special moves that include another character seem finicky as heck. I just can’t seem to pull them off reliably and since they’re a 1 button press move, that shouldn’t be the case. I’ll also agree with Ars that, at least early in the game, friendlies and enemies look very similar, particularly in a big melee. Happily Clementine (protagonist Eddie Rigg’s guitar and ranged weapon) will happily auto-target bad guys for you.

Now some of the good stuff. I’ll join in on the love fest around the voice talent and the heavy metal theme. The music is awesome, of course, and even though I knew it was coming I still grinned ear-to-ear the first time Ozzie Osborne manifested in front of me and started a mumbling tirade. Very funny stuff. The world is weird and wonderful, too. Just roaming around finding things is a lot of fun. The hint system is brilliant, done via audio snippets of Eddie ‘thinking to himself.’ In fact at first you’ll think a hint is just random banter but the longer you remain stumped by something, the more explicitly hint-like this banter becomes, until Eddie just flat-out tells you what you need to do. It’s a nice system to keep things rolling along.

After a couple of hours playing I had to stop for the night and I was a bit disappointed to see my game was 14% complete already, so it seems the storyline isn’t very long. I’m told you can keep playing/collecting past the end of the main mission sequence. There’s also a multiplayer mode that I haven’t tried yet (I’ve heard it can spoil the plotline of the single player campaign so I’m going to hold off…multiplayer isn’t generally my thing anyway).

So my very early feeling is that this is a good game. I don’t think it’ll end up being Game of the Year material or anything like that. I’m glad I picked it up, but I’m equally glad that Amazon was giving a $10 gift coupon with the pre-order. $50 feels like a better price for this game than $60 does and probably it’s rental material. Put it this way, I’m looking forward to playing more tonight, but it isn’t the kind of game I can’t get out of my head.

I’ll check back in after I’ve got 8-10 hours in and report how things are going then.