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Brutal Legend Day#4: Why Can’t This Be Love?

Day 4 is another stage battle and several smaller quests. I have figured out the problem with this game. They simply don’t want to teach you anything. I am finding more and more hidden things that make the game better, but that I only found by accident. I hate tutorials too, Double Fine, but there’s a limit to how many basic features I’m supposed to discover for myself. Stage battle is still only eh, but the secondary stuff has some fun and funny in it, and narrative continues to shine with an interesting twist in the romantic subplot. Spoilers within.

So I start back up right outside of the motor forge where I get my power-ups, and I decide I’m close enough to the next mission point that I don’t need the car to get me there. I start walking, but then I remember a tip on the loading screen told me how to use my Power Slide – hit X while running. I try it, but I’m only walking and it doesn’t do anything. I realize that there must be a way to run, so I experiment with the controller, and lo, you can run by pressing down the left analog as you move. Okay, that is NOT typical controller use and thus NOT obvious. WHY WASN’T THAT IN THE TUTORIAL? Or perhaps more accurately, WHERE ARE THE TUTORIALS IN THIS GAME? I know this is hardcore, but if I only figure out 25% of the way through the game that I can RUN,  you are asking too much of the players.

Anyway, I start the storm Lionwhite’s castle sequence and we go to CS. I forgot to mention that in the last stage battle (last session), there’s a very short CS where Riggs gets hit in the back with something, but he just gets up and goes about his business. I mention this because the CS this session revisits this, by having Riggs collapse right before the battle and rises back up with demon wings and red skin. The team is nervous, but Eddie says he’s fine and should use these wings while he has them. He walks of as Ophelia wonders about whether something her parents warned her about is coming true.  Points to Double Fine for both building this narrative very carefully and having some interesting possibilities ahead.

The other new thing in this battle are leeches covering the fan geysers. To fuel our fans (I still have no idea why I want to do this, by the way — the game just keeps telling me it’s important),  I have to first get rid the leeches to access the geysers, and then cast my fan tribute to use them. I can do this by selecting the geyser with a beacon using  a left button and then using a new d-pad command to send my army to that spot.  This attack begins the battle and we go from there with the goal of breaking through the door to the fortress.

This stage battle was a little better, but still confusing. It all revolves around the position and commands of units. I don’t know where they are at any given time, and I only have a half-sense of how to control them. They also introduce new units that they don’t explain at all. All of a sudden in this battle, there are these hairmetal singers who can claim geysers for evil. That is a thing you would think you would tell me before I run into one on the field and have to try to figure out what to do with it. I have a bad time of this battle the first time through, but then my Xbox crashes. The second time through I beat it pretty thoroughly, although I’m not sure why. I just rush the door faster the second time.

After his defeat, Lionwhite CS fires all of his hand people, and flies back into fortress. The demon thing over Riggs goes away, and Riggs et al march through the gates. These weird hunched-over guys carrying humongous boxes show up with another escaped pleasure-slave. Ophelia clearly knows these guys. Lita accuses them of being with Lionwhite since they were in the castle. Ophelia defends them saying that she’s been working with them to get the women out. Riggs identifies them as roadies. That leads Ophelia to mention the screaming wall, which has a weapon we can use to defeat Lionwhite. That’s the next stop.

But instead of driving straight there, I decide instead to do some secondary missions. The first is a new one with a cannon where I drive around and click to tell a hammer guy where to fire his mortar and blow up oncoming enemies. It’s pretty rad, and the intro features this hilarious hammer guy. It takes me a couple times to get it, but it’s fun the whole time.  My second secondary mission is an ambush — I basically have a bunch of troops and have to kill an enemy that runs by. I win this one, but I basically do it by myself and leave my armies to get totally wasted. There’s another cannon secondary mission close by, so I rock that one too. More fire tokens from these missions go to more upgrades tout suite.

One other quick thought. The radio with the metal music is so rad, but I wish it didn’t keep starting at the beginnings of songs. This is heavy metal — the songs are like seven minutes long. I rarely drive in one block for more than two minutes at most. That means I hear A LOT of heavy metal intro. Either take a cue from GTA and have the radio start in random places, or save my music at the point I leave the vehicle.

At this point, I decide to get back to the plot and head out to the speaker wall. Ophelia CS explains when we start that some of the hand guys have decided to join us, and Riggs doesn’t argue.  The scene involves leading a small group up a trail to the wall, fighting some small units along the way. The fights are trivial. Lionwhite shows up in along the way and CS explains that he’ll take the hang guys back, but no dice on that, and he flies away. When we arrive at the wall (a huge stack of speakers), Riggs climbs it and throws some amps down to the roadies. Then we march back. There are more battles along the way, and these annoying seagulls that screw up the speakers with feedback. I lose about three minutes here because a speaker won’t follow me when it’s surrounded by seagulls, and they keep coming back when I clear it until I finally give up and ride the speaker (which you do by hitting Y near a roadie) back to start.

When we get the end of the mission, the van is there and Ophelia CS mentions that Riggs thinks of everything. Riggs says he just wants everything to be right for her, but that he doesn’t want to mess with her relationship with Lars. Ophelia starts to go on about how one can’t help but like him (his bravery, his speeches, his presence, his chest, etc.) until Riggs kisses her. She responds in kind, and ends by saying that Lars is like a brother to her. They decide to go back separately because this is not the time to create rumors. So score one for Riggs. That romance plot moved faster than I expected. Something is going to go wrong.

I take in one more secondary mission before I head on: a machine gun one, where I again can’t really seem to kill things despite aiming at them and seeing my reticule turn red, but I win nonetheless. Then it’s back to the plot. This one involves sneaking past a set of attack towers to pave the way for the army. The roadies are basically invisible, and so am I when I’m on them, so you have to send the speakers aheadto blow up the attack towers, and then ride the speakers to sneak past wall-mounted camera skulls that shoot you when they see you. (I figure that out when I don’t ride the speakers, get spotted, and get shot to a Brutal Defeat.)  I get past the camera skulls and then take a little while to figure out how to blow up the command center for the camera skulls. Once I succeed at that, the rest of the army advances and joins me.

And here’s where Brutal Legend reasserts its “why would we teach you this”  spirit.  So there’s another attack tower up ahead, and I need my roadies to sneak up and attack it. But my whole army’s here, and I have no idea how to isolate the roadies. A tip pops up telling me that I can hold down the Y button to sub-select a particular unit. Okay. I run back into the army to try it, but of course my army is all mixed up. Several Y hits have me carrying a hand guy or forming a mosh pit. Then the system takes mercy on me and decides to have my Y press affect the roadies; I know this because I see them glow. Awesome. I run forward, put my beacon on the tower, and send what I think are the roadies to attack it. And of course, off my whole army marches to their death. What happened, you ask? Did I wait too long to issue the command? Was I too far away from my roadies? Ah, dear reader, these are mysteries mere players are not meant to know, at least not without lots of DIY experimenting.

Sigh. Enough for today. I’ll try again tomorrow.

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