Brutal Legend has been a game that has had quite an interesting history to it. First it was to be published by Sierra. Then, Activision bought Vivendi and let the game go. Soon after, EA picks it up and the game gains massive hype. Activision gets pissy and claims they still have rights to it (they don't), and decide to sue. Tim Schafer, who many have looked at as a genius in need of wide recognition to the mainstream, is probably pulling his hair out from all of this drama and we don't blame him. On top of that, he also had to make the pretty tough decision of letting Ronnie James Dio off the project as a voice actor, and replacing him with Tim Curry.
So now that you're up to speed with the happenings, allow me to brighten up the note. This week, I finally got a chance to play Brutal Legend. I made my way into Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon and made my rounds until finally getting to Brutal Legend. What I experienced was a solid game with a distinct style and feel. First and foremost, this is a hack n' slash action game where you primarily use your axe for physical attacks and the guitar for magic-based attacks. Of course you also know that there is vehicle usage in the game, and thankfully the vehicle control is well done and not loosey-goosey as it tends to be in other action games, plus there is quite a bit of room for open-world exploration. Furthermore, your vehicle, The Deuce, will be used as a weapon when you're mowing down enemies in your way, or running over a boss' stuck…err, tentacle-tongue looking things.
The switching of both weapons happens on the fly, think Devil May Cry. But you are limited to the amount of times you can use your guitar, as it overheats, so you'll have to wait a little bit until it cools down (I believe there are upgrades in the game that will allow you to better the overheating). When you use your guitar attacks, you unleash lighting bolts on your enemies. And when you are to perform Face Melting Solos to completely wipe away what stands near you, you will be prompted to enter a button sequence.
Now, I noticed something odd about these solos…something struck me as awfully familiar. When I performed the very first solo you gain, I said to myself "hold on a second…I've heard that little bit somewhere before." And almost immediately, it hit me, the little segment of sweep-picking that Eddie plays in the game is none other than the beginning of the first solo from Judas Priest's "Painkiller" (refer 2:10 into the song). It seemed way too coincidental to not be, and since Rob Halford is involved with the game, my theory made sense. So I asked the rep behind Brutal Legend, and he had confirmed that K.K. Downing (guitarist of Judas Priest) worked on the guitar sounds and segments of the game. So there you have it. More reasons why Brutal Legend is awesome.
As far as the technical stuff goes, Brutal Legend may not be dripping with insane technology and graphical prowess, but it does boast character and a personality with its distinct cartoon visuals, and that's the goal. Furthermore, the game's animation was done by a former animation lead over at Pixar. Lastly, the sound is superb, with great voice acting by everyone in the game, in addition to a licensed soundtrack that sounds great!
Remember kids, Brutal Legend hits October 13th, 2009.