Humble Indie Bundle 9 ReviewGuest_Jim_* - September 17, 2013
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Brütal Legend Review:
I have a story to tell you. I first got Brütal Legend some months ago in the Humble Double Fine Bundle. Naturally I installed it and started it up, but to my dismay, it had multiple issues, primarily graphical in nature. Some of the issues prevented me from running the game, until I discovered through forum posts and such that turning of certain graphical options, in the game and in the drivers, would allow the game to run. Now I was able to actually start it up and enter the game world… mostly. Literally I mean I was able to enter most of the game world, but not all of it. Multiple meshes would simply not load, causing characters to run and climb on empty air. I even had to drive over a crumbling bridge, with holes forming ahead of me to avoid, without actually seeing the bridge! (Fortunately there were other visual cues for the holes that were rendering.)
Since then I have built a new computer and the game is behaving much better on it, though not perfect, but that is something for a later paragraph.
In Brütal Legend you play as Eddie Riggs, a devoted fan of heavy metal music and a roadie with the ability to build and repair anything. After an accident you are transported to a world very different from Earth where the gods of rock are real and music can be wielded as a weapon. Now it is your mission to support those trying to free humanity.
The game has a somewhat irreverent sense of humor, as Eddie seems to be aware of how things work in situations like his, where more things are threats than you may first suspect. It is like he sees himself as just going along with the ride at times, and provides color commentary. Also the developers provided the player with the ability to control the game's level of censorship. You can have profanity bleeped and gore removed through an in-game prompt or the options menu.
To kill enemies you have two primary weapons; two axes, one bladed, one stringed. The bladed axe is just for slicing and dicing enemies (limbs can and will be removed by it) while the guitar can summon lightning, fire, and more. To access special abilities you play guitar solos that will melt enemy faces, summon a car, or call on allies. Playing a solo is as easy as pressing the buttons at the right time, and it waits for you to start playing before the timer starts.
Those allies I mentioned bring in an interesting mechanic, as you are able to control them with the fairly simple commands of Follow, Hold Position, and Attack. You can also join with them for more powerful attacks, like a mosh pit. While this mechanic could actually be really useful, I am finding its implementation to be somewhat limited. At one point I apparently lost all of my allies, but I do not know if they were all killed or if they just fell behind. At times you can also summon more allies, but again you have no information telling you how many are actually deployed, or where they are. At least then when they disappear, you can summon more.
This is the paragraph to discuss how it is still not running perfectly. At four years old, the graphics are definitely dated, but they also run poorly. I am constantly seeing stuttering and sometimes it is very apparent, such as an NPC literally vibrating back and forth. This stuttering looks very much like it is caused by a poorly optimized engine, due to it being a console port, as opposed to an engine just struggling to keep up.
The controls are also an issue as they are not very responsive. There is a noticeable lag between pressing a button and the action occurring, if the action occurs that is. Sometimes it simply does not happen.
As you hopefully expect, the soundtrack uses a lot of guitar and is metal in style.
Altogether Brütal Legend is a complex game to say much about. I can recognize the potential it has as an enjoyable and entertaining experience, but at the same time it suffers so many issues that actually having that experience is challenging. If you can look past the issues, there is a good chance you will enjoy the game, but some of you will not want to put up with the problems. For that reason, I am not comfortable recommending the bundle just for this game.