Metal. Is there any other music genre that packs more adrenaline? Judas Priest. Iron Maiden. Black Sabbath. Pre-Black Metallica. Metal is awesome. And you know what'd be more awesome? A videogame that revolves around metal. Years ago there was a Metallica game in planning, but Vivendi has since scrapped that concept, and it looks like this is the replacement.
What sounds like the title of a fighting game, Brutal Legend is a third person action title. You've got a character named Eddie Riggs, and his two weapons are both axes. Well, one is an actual battle axe and the other a guitar. The battle axe is Eddie's primary attack, and it works much like Devil May Cry's sword attack does – basic, yet effective. Riggs will shred on the guitar when he needs to cast various types of magic, and performing these magic attacks will require timed combo entry on your controller.
There's a good deal of variation in magic attacks, for example, there's the Face Melting solo attack – an attack that, quite literally, kills an enemy with a sick solo that melts their face. Another attack casts flames to form from the ground and burn down your enemies – a display of pyrotechnics much like what's done at concerts today. Now, for a bit of a Grand Theft Auto-like experience, there's also a hot-rod that you can use to navigate the world. It can also act as a weapon, allowing you to mow down your enemies. The car, called the Deuce, is made available by summoning it with your guitar and it can be upgraded with new weapons and abilities.
Similar to Overlord, or even Nintendo's Pikmin, Brutal Legend lets you control an army of characters decked out in metal gear such as, Headbangers, Roadies, Runaways, Fire Barons, and Bouncers. Each character has his/her own unique ability. For instance, Roadies carry amps and crank them up to activate ear pulsing feedback in order to eliminate enemies. Runaways are rocker-chicks who wield flamethrowers as they ride on a character's shoulder. Bouncers and Headbangers should work similarly, as they're both melee fighters. And Fire Barons create rings of fire with their choppers and trap enemies in them.
No matter which characters your employ, you can control their actions by telling them to attack or to defend. Additionally, assembling an army of characters first requires you to defeat that character type before they join you. Now, you can't have a metal game without an insanely awesome soundtrack and voice actors. So, Sierra/Vivendi got Jack Black (Actor/Tenacious D) to voice Eddie Riggs, Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead) to voice Kill Master (how apt), Rob Halford (Judas Priest) to voice General Lionwhyte, and Ronnie James Dio (Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell, Dio) voicing an unknown character. In addition to that, there's still a list of more metal and Hollywood talent that'll be lending their voices to the game.
Music will include brand new tracks by Zakk Wylde, Tim Skold, Wolfmother, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and Ronnie James Dio. Potential for soundtrack of the year? Extremely high!
There are some interesting things to note about the game and its characters too. A lot of the names are highly inspired by the metal world and its icons. For instance, Eddie Riggs' name comes from Iron Maiden's mascot "Eddie" and his artist/creator Derek Riggs. "The Runaways", the game's gang of all-girl minions you control, most likely comes from the all-girl band of the same name. As already mentioned, character "Kill Master" is a play on Lemmy's last name "Kilmister." And apparently, the game is full of this kind of stuff, so looking out for it should be fun.
Visually, Brutal Legend demonstrates a very smooth and cartoonish look, one that I can get behind without qualms. The concept art is also highly reminiscent of a Gorillaz video, and that only helps build our hopes and anticipation for the game way high. We don't see anything worrying about the visuals, but granted we haven't seen much of the game, just yet. Still, if developer Double Fine can ensure a solid framerate and fast-paced action to fit with the adrenaline rushing metal soundtrack, then Sierra will have a huge winner on their hands for 2008.
Brutal Legend looks to be one of the most promising games of 2008, and my biggest wish to both Sierra and Double Fine is to make this as amazing as it can possibly be. Double Fine's Psychonauts was a great game, so don't let us metal fans down! Look for Brutal Legend to launch sometime at the end of Summer 2008.