My third session of Brutal Legend goes in two opposite directions: my first stage battle and a bunch of side-quests. I was totally wrong with my earlier prediction. This is not the metal version of Pikmin; it’s more like the metal version of Dynasty Warriors, with a dollop of RTS mixed in. I can’t say that I really enjoy it — it’s epic feeling, but I have no idea what’s going on and very little sense of how to control it. The side-quests are pretty good, and the narrative elements continue to (pun only sort of intended) rock. Spoilers within.
So I reload with the idea of having to get to the area where the stage is to be set up, but there’s no clear direction that I’m supposed to take. I end up running around Bladehenge looking for a clue. It’s a nice environment, but there’s not much to do. I do find a pair of binoculars to look through, and that gives me some fire tribute, but it’s otherwise pretty empty except for some simple set pieces. I eventually find Lars just outside the camp.
Riggs CS explains that his idea is to have a rock show. If the guitar is a weapon by itself, he reasons, imagine what a show could do? We see the stage quickly built, but when it’s done, the weird green geyser outside of the camp starts to emit spirits. Lita explains that the Titans used these geysers in the past to power things, and Riggs realizes that they are fans. I gain a new solo, Fan Tribute, to awaken the geyser, and then Riggs orders his engineer to build a merch tower around the geyser, because as Riggs explains, “Band merch is like a wedding ring.”
Once that’s done, I go into a battle set-up phase where I call troops to the battle, using the Left Button to pull up the menu and then the Left Analog to select the units. I have three units right now: melee (Headbangers), ranged (Razorgirls), and healers (the Killmasters). I have a cap of twenty units, and I settle on two melee groups, two ranged groups, and one set of healers.
Lionwhite appears in a CS in all of his hair metal glory. He calls out Lars Halford (ha, that’s funny) for stealing his slaves, and the normal posturing between the heroes and villains ensues. Lionwhite finishes off claiming that he knows how to deal with labor disputes, and then flies away borne by wings of his own hair. With that, the battle begins.
The battle itself is that enemy units appear in the distance and approach the stage, and we have to kill them. The enemies attack us and the fan towers, and so I guess the goal is to defend the fan towers. I say “I guess” because I have literally no information about what I’m doing. I basically run around to where I see enemies and fight them. I try summoning my people a few times, but that doesn’t seem to do much. It’s particularly annoying because my troops keep crying for more healers, and I have no idea how to bring them to bear. Maybe there’s a range of effect I’m outside of? I die a few times, but a group of fans rise up and resurrect me back at the stage. There’s some basic feedback showing me where the enemies are, but the whole battle is just a chaotic mess, mostly because I have no understanding of how to lead my troops.
I guess overall I’m unsatisfied with the battle. I think it’s an interesting mechanic, but the instructions to the battle were woefully inadequate. It seems like there are strategies here, but I desperately need more information on how to use my troops. I’ll give it a couple more stage battles before I make a final judgment.
Anyway, we win, and Lionwhite CS leaves. Lars gives a good inspirational speech about hunting down Lionwhite’s people, and Riggs responds by building a huge van for the army. Once the van is built, we have a chance to get going, but the CS that introduces the trip to the next battle has the engineer saying they need a few more hours. I can start the mission if I want, but the narrative tone gives me the idea of doing some secondary missions first. So I drive away for a little while, and head to the first secondary mission I see on the map.
It turns out to be a race with a toad-like guy who’s part of a race of other car builders. We have a nice posturing exchange, and then the race starts. It’s pretty straightforward. I lose the first time because I can’t remember what command launches my Nitro (turns out it’s pressing the left analog). The second time I win handily and collect my Fire Tokens. I head back to Ozzy for an upgrade, and choose to get a machinegun for my car, which turn out to be the smartest decision I could ever have made.
I head back to the Bladehenge and initiate the mission. The goal here is to follow the van to the next staging area. The van drives and I hang behind it in the Deuce. But as we travel, motorcycled nasties appear and try to destroy the van. I have to race behind the van and waste them before they blow up the van. Thank the gods of metal I bought that machine gun. This is pure arcade fun. I die several times, but that’s just because this is hard, and that’s fine with me. The car handles pretty well, but you can occasionally get stuck behind trees and rocks. But besides that one little issue, the scene is quite good.
After several failures, we arrive at the next battle scene. It’s late enough that I don’t want to do the battle tonight, so I decide to do one more secondary mission and call it a night. On the way to the next mission, I find this odd locked down statue. I slam-attack, which removes the chains, and then I click on it to launch a little narrative comic about the ancient history of this place. It’s a pretty illustration, kind of like the intro to Wind Waker but more metal, and the myth is very metal appropriate.
I find the next secondary mission after running into a random bunch of enemies. I try using my machine gun to kill them, but they manage to hit me enough to destroy the car. Good to know that can happen. The secondary mission has me hoisted up on a hydrolic lift and shooting at enemyies trying to get by. I’m very far away, and the only feedback I have that I’m hitting is that my reticule turns from white to red when I’m aiming at an enemy. Once again in this game, I don’t know what’s going on in the battle or how well I’m doing. It turns out I win (hooray?), and I collect my fire tokens for my trouble.
I then gather up a couple more narrative bits and go back to the Ozzy shop for some additional Deuce weapons and some personal power-ups I doubt I’ll ever use. I save for good measure, and call it a night. Tomorrow’s session will be a big one for me. If the next stage battle improves, it will do a lot for my opinion of the gameplay in this title. But I’ll give it one bone for sure: I have been going back through my old Megadeth like a fanatic lately, and I have only Brutal Legend to thank.