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Brutal Legend Day#6: Creeping Death

Day 6 with Brutal Legend is getting a bit more troubling. The story is starting to accelerate, and that is not a good thing. However, it continues to be interesting and make interesting turns, so I’m sticking with it. The battles are getting harder — there are whole new kinds of enemies now, and I still have no sense of what an effective strategy is when the stage is up. Oh, and my current pet peeve of bad savepoint design rears its ugly and unwelcome head. Spoilers within.

Okay, let’s start with the pet peeve. You remember how last session ended in the middle of that tear drinkers battle. I basically quit right in the middle of the fight. But when I restarted, it was back to the cutscene. The TWO MINUTE LONG cutscene. The cutscene was good, but dear god, I NEVER NEVER EVER want to see a cutscene repeated when I fail something and restart. Do you hear me out there, game developers? NEVER NEVER EVER. When I fail, start me AFTER the cutscene. I will remember the set-up. There is just no excuse to do this wrong.

The battle takes a long time, and I actually have no idea what my goal is. The tear drinkers show up in waves, I fight them off, and then I run around looking for the goal until the next wave comes. These tear drinkers are HARD too. I am constantly respawning my armies.  And wave after wave after wave keeps coming with me having no sense how to end the battle. I am seriously becoming worried I could do this for HOURS just because the game didn’t tell me something.

On the plus side for this game, the name “tear drinkers” and the idea of the goth/emo army is very cool. The enemies are all very well-illustrated and hit the line between creepy and funny very well.  If the narrative wasn’t going so fast (more on that in a second), I would appreciate this more.

Thank goodness I’m wrong about missing something (for once), and at some seemingly random point the battle goes to cutscene. A huge army CS comes over the horizon and everyone is nervous. But then a bunch of guys on fiery motorcycles show up (the fire barons, I learn) and ask who beat General Lionwhite. I say that we did, and the fire barons decide to join us. It’s kind of cool that the meeting with the fire barons went a different way than I expected, but it’s also pretty anticlimactic that less than a half-an-hour after this group is introduced as “warriors who will kill us”, they are on our side in a 15 second cutscene.

I get control back to charge into the fray with fire barons on my side. It goes quickly but not effortlessly after that. I guess that having the fire barons helped, but in typical Brutal Legend fashion, I have no idea what they can do or how they helped.  The characters CS gather around the fallen tear drinkers, and we see that they have merch with Ophelia’s symbol. Lita’s not surprised, but Riggs doesn’t understand since the Sea of Black Tears was closed.

(Umm…how does he know all this stuff? I’ve never heard any of this before. It’s  a bit immersion breaking to have Riggs start holding forth on in-game content for a universe he’s only been in for three months when I as the player don’t know what he’s talking about.)

Anyway, the fire barons reveal that Doviticus (sp? again) re-opened the lake, which is why the fire barons fled to our base.  Riggs then realizes that this is a demon tactic to set human against human, and that they must go and deal with Ophelia right away.  He decides to go ahead to investigate the lake and see if there’s a route for the van to take.

I get control to drive to the lake, and I find that there’s a destroyed bridge in the way. (Actually, I find it when I drive over the edge. That one’s probably on me being cocky.) There are red flowers all over it, indicating that I can use my Relic Raiser solo, and when I do, the bridge reforms.

This cuts to a CS of Magnus driving up in the bus. They’re going to go over the newly risen bridge when a gothy car pulls up and Ophelia, now dark-sexy-sorcerous gothed up, steps out. She tells Riggs that she picked herself up and rejoined the tear drinkers after he betrayed her. Riggs tries to tell her that the demons are not her friends, but she ignores him and continues, explaining that she learned from Riggs the magical power of music. She pulls out a guitar and does a solo that destroys the bridge again. As she drives off, Riggs says he can rebuild the bridge with the scaffolding from Bladehenge.

I get control back in the Deuce with Lita at shotgun, and we’re supposed to drive back to Bladehenge. As we do, the landscape is looking pretty twisted. Lita explains that the Coil has taken over while we’ve been gone. I find myself wondering what the Coil is. The narrative is starting to accelerate uncomfortably here. It’s done pretty well introducing the narrative up to this point — I’m hoping that this too-fast explication will stop once we get over this story bridge.

We get to Bladehenge which is all Coiled up, and in a CS, Riggs tells Lita that we’re going to take one enemy at a time, and deal with Ophelia before we reclaim Bladehenge. I get control back for a pointless section where I run ten feet and then trigger a new CS about finding the scaffolding. I’m not going to pick on Brutal Legend for this, but let’s try to stay away from the Final Fantasy-style moments of pointless agency, please.

Anyway, in the new CS, Magnus is here, and has loaded all the scaffolding on to the van. He makes some comically prophetic statement about the Coil spotting us and then surprise, surprise they do. I get control again for a second protect-the-van mission. It goes fine; the new missile launcher and mines I can drop behind me help a lot. I have to restart a couple of times because I keep accidentally pressing the L button while steering and thus activating my Nitro at the wrong time, but I get through it pretty smoothly and it’s fun.

The van arrives in the forest passed the bridge, and I decide it’s high time I did some secondary missions. They are as follows:

  • Toad Race: I lose once because I make a bad choice on the bridge at the end. (It splits into two lanes, and the goal is only on one of the lanes.) But the second time I win it handily.
  • Car Rack Shooter: Same as always. Does my gun do ANYTHING in this battle? I guess so, because I win. Shrug.
  • Ambush Ocho: This time it’s against tear-drinkers, and that makes it hard. I die several times because I can’t seem to kill both the zombies foot soldiers and the spider-artillery things at the same time. I experiment quite a bit here, and finally find that teaming up with a razorgirl (by hitting Y near one) makes me into a pretty unstoppable artillery weapon. Everyone else on the ambush is dead, but me and the one razorgirl can do the job alone. Seems a little degenerate, but damn if I’m not doing this in every stage battle from now on.
  • Death from Above, Tear-Drinker Edition: I die once because tear drinkers are tougher, but then I do the same thing a second time and win. Whatever. Fire tribute please.

More upgrades and then back to the mission.  When I start it, I get a CS of Riggs noticing these giant cats in the forest and deciding to recruit them. No one else thinks this is a good idea, but he fast-talks them into reluctantly doing it. In a second CS, he explains that the plan is that Riggs will piggybank on a fire baron to lure the cats to a tower Lita is hiding in, surround them with a ring of fire, and then have Lita jump on their backs and take them into a cage. The game starts after that. It’s okay — the premise is fun, but the cats are not easy to find and drawing a ring around them is quite hard. Even that’s okay, but you can for some reason dismount the bike, and the mission is impossible to succeed in dismounted. If you don’t want me to dismount, Brutal Legend, just don’t let me do it. Anyway, I capture two of the three cats when the third one destroys the bike, and the game goes back TO THE FUCKING CUTSCENE AGAIN. I feel I’ve come full circle on my pet peeve, and that’s my cue to call it a night.

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