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In praise of Brutal Legend

Is it the most metal video game ever made?

As TeamRock releases its own heavy metal ass-kicking game in the form of Metal Hammer: Roadkill, we take a look back at Tim Schafer’s Brutal Legend – an action adventure that put the metal into games way back in 2009...

You Play A Roadie… Which Makes A Nice Change From A Grunting Space Marine

Voiced by Jack Black, you play as roadie Eddie Riggs. Due to a convoluted set of circumstances involving the shitty band Eddie’s working for at the start of the game, an accident at work that gets a little out of hand and the sudden appearance of this guy…

… Eddie is transported to an ancient land that just so happens to look like the cover of every single heavy metal album ever.

Your Weapons Are An Axe… And An AXE!

It ain’t long before our hero runs into a spot of trouble in the shape of a pack of hooded demons from the underworld. Luckily, he’s given a couple of pretty powerful tools to deal with these goons. First, there’s his trusty axe, The Separator:

Secondly there’s a guitar Eddie lovingly christens Clementine. He uses it to electrocute his enemies, set them on fire, or set them on fire and electrocute them at the same time. As you do.

But that’s not all. Eddie can also use Clementine to do things like summon Ozzy Osbourne from the bowels of the earth…

Or call on a giant flaming zeppelin to fall from the sky and burn everybody around Eddie to death in a giant fireball.

Or summon Eddie’s hot-rod, The Demon Plow.

Or play a special guitar riff called The Facemelter, which does exactly what it says on the tin.

After using the Facemelter extensively throughout the game to melt the faces of our enemies with reckless abandon, we’ve concluded that all games made from now until the end of time should feature a face-melting option as standard. Even games aimed at six year olds:

See? This a no-brainer. Please take note, game developers!

Wait? Did You Say Ozzy Osbourne?

Fuck yes! The game features several heavy hitters from the world of rock and metal. There’s the aforementioned Ozzy, who is on hand to upgrade your car and your equipment and even change your appearance.

Then there’s Lemmy, who turns up as The Kill Master (see what they did there?). In the game he’s a doctor who heals your wounds by playing soothing medicinal riffs on a bass guitar mounted on the back of a motorbike built from the body of a giant metal spider.

Lita Ford leads a tribe of Amazonian jungle cat women who wear face paint reminiscent of Kiss.

Rob Halford plays two roles – the evil Lionwhyte and The Baron. Lionwhyte is a glam metal sell-out working for Tim Curry whose hair is so thick and lustrous he can use it to fly around the battlefield.

Being rockstars and not professional voice artists, the vocal performances of Lemmy and co. leave a lot to be desired. Still, who gives a shit about that? Show us another game where the villain wears purple tiger-print spandex and comes from Sutton Coalfield.

Tim Curry? The Demon Guy From That Shitty 1980s Tom Cruise Unicorn Movie?

Oh yes...

Curry pretty much reprises his role from that shitty 1980s Tom Cruise unicorn movie, only this time there’s no Tom Cruise and no unicorn. His voice sounds like evil chocolate – this is a very good thing.

So, What’s The Story?

As we’ve mentioned before, you play a roadie called Eddie. Eddie has to build an army to defeat Rob Halford and Tim Curry. That’s pretty much all you need to know. This is a computer game about a demon-slaying, time-travelling roadie. It ain’t War And Peace.

And anyway, who wants to talk about the story when the game contains the greatest soundtrack ever assembled for a game ever? 

The Greatest Soundtrack Ever Assembled For A Game Ever?

You better believe it, baby! Throughout the game, Eddie collects 107 heavy metal songs from all corners of the genre. There’s classic metal from the likes of Black Sabbath, Budgie and Motörhead; hair metal courtesy of Mötley Crüe and Quiet Riot; NWOBHM supplied by Saxon, Girlschool, Diamond Head and Angel Witch. Plus there’s viking metal, industrial metal, black metal, death metal, progressive metal, thrash metal, gothic metal, Teutonic traditional heavy metal, symphonic black metal, METAL! METAL! METAL! METAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!

What we’re saying here is the soundtrack is ever so slightly biased in favour of heavy fucking metal.

Best of all, this game can now be picked up second-hand for as little as a fiver on console, or a tenner on Steam. That’s a shitload of metal for your money… and you get a pretty kickass game thrown in too!

So Is It Worth Your Time?

Yes, it’s worth it. Brutal Legend is a love letter to heavy metal designed by people who adore and understand the genre. Sure, there are flaws. The graphics are dated, some of the voice acting would shame a school play, the real-time strategy element of the game will have you threatening your console with physical violence and it’s pretty clunky in comparison to a modern game like, say, The Witcher 3.

But for all that, this forgotten gem from 2009 is still a brilliant, lovingly-crafted homage to heavy metal. Shit, even its mission screens look like albums. What’s not to love?

Sure, there are other games you could be playing (such as Metal Hammer: Roadkill – out now!). But are there any other games where you fight a giant steel spider with a flying-V guitar and a battle-axe as Anthrax screams out of your speakers? Although admittedly you can smash giant bears to pieces with a massive hammer to the sound of Exodus in Metal Hammer: Roadkill.

Brutal Legend deserves a second chance. It was made for the fans, man. It was made for YOU. It’s time to get the band back together.

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