E3 2009: The Five: Brütal Legend
The Skinny: Brütal Legend follows the adventures of Eddie Riggs (Jack Black), a roadie who is transported to a fantasy world where the legends of heavy metal are made real. Here Tim Schafer and his gang at Double Fine aim to craft a humorous tribute to metal -- one that leverages the team's talent for sharp writing, lively animation and wicked art.
1. It's fairly evident that Brütal Legend's story will delight. But will the game be fun to play? All signs point to "f***, yeah." The extended hands-on demo at E3 offered the opportunity to handle Eddie Riggs from the moment he comes into possession of his powers. Straight-up axe attacks are complimented by magical fire and lightning attacks that fry enemies at a distance. On the complexity spectrum, Brütal Legend is more God of War than Devil May Cry. That's a good thing.
2. The celebrities in Brütal Legend are more than just stunt casting -- each character feels written specifically for the metal legend Double Fine tapped for the voiceover. Ozzy Osbourne appears as a dark priest who lets you upgrade your instrument and hotrod. The best bit about Ozzy's appearance is the lively way he's animated -- all exaggerated expressions and poses. Osbourne's moments in Brütal Legend give a tantalizing hint at how an Ozzy guest spot on "Scooby Doo" might have looked.
3. A good part of the Brütal Legend demo happened behind the wheel of the Deuce. Driving Eddie Riggs' tricked-out hotrod is a blast. Players learn the ropes in a boss battle, driving circles around a slavering tentacle nightmare. Once the beast has been dispatched, Riggs must steer the "Druid Plow" past an army of enemies, dodging holes that appear in the crumbling roadway. Once Riggs makes his escape, players finally get the feel for Brütal Legend's open road and the sort of freeform exploration that can go down.
4. Right off the bat, there's a bunch of stuff to do. In one quest Riggs hooks up with the army of the metal righteous and agrees to accompany their tour bus on a ride across the countryside. The escort mission tasks Riggs with fending off a gang of motorcycle-riding creeps with the Deuce's gatlin' gun and flame-spewing exhaust-pipes. Before tackling the road tour, I wandered around and discovered the temple where Ozzy upgrades your gear. Brütal Legend seems pretty cool about letting you discover and experience the world at will.
5. During summoning spells, when Riggs whips out his guitar, players shred a tune by making timed button-presses that scroll across a musical scale. If you've called for Epona in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, you know exactly what to expect. Unless there are more secret ways to play Brütal Legend, there's only one bit of gameplay we haven't experienced -- that's when players command armies of headbangers like Commander Olimar from Pikmin.
The Verdict: Face melted.
This preview is based on a hands-on demo of the game at E3 2009.