I wrapped up Brütal Legend the other day, and for some reason I cannot stop thinking about it. It’s a good game, yes, but also a very flawed game. When I finished it, I was slightly disappointed and promptly sent it back to GameFly, but now I’m not so sure that was a good idea. The game mechanics lack polish and the story is in need of a proper third chapter, but the Brütal World crafted by Tim Schafer and populated by some of the greatest names in metal is truly epic. Oh how I long to return to the plains surrounding Bladehenge, the engine of my Druid Plow hotrod screaming as I mow down demons while blasting Motörhead on the radio. Did you read that last sentence and somehow not think it sounds awesome? If so, you are lame and shall not be carried off to Valhalla when you shuffle off this mortal coil.
Despite this affection, I really can’t overlook the game’s deficiencies. First and foremost, the game feels waaaaaay too short. In BL’s story mode there are three main villains, a fact that led me to believe that there would be three chapters to the game; as far as story-telling goes, three is a nice round number. But (SPOILER ALERT) at the end of the second chapter, the Big Bad suddenly swoops in, you battle him, and then the game is over. What the hell?! There’s no proper campaign against him, no sense of build-up, just poof! Suddenly he’s there, giving away the story’s big secret, and then a short while later he’s gone and the credits are playing. Also, the story-telling itself could use a little work: the world is populated with a cast of incredible characters, but I felt like they barely scratched the surface with them. Additionally, much of the world lore introduced is not properly expounded upon (although the secret artifacts help, but not by much), so when these concepts are later invoked as explanations for certain events and character actions, I was left scratching my head. I think my gripes here can be summed up neatly in three words: GIVE ME MORE! BL has a ton of story-telling potential; I just don’t think it was used to its fullest.
Then there’s the stage battle system. No one really expected to see RTS gameplay in BL, but it’s there, and it’s a major part of the game. Every so often the player is made to engage in large battles with an opposing side, a scenario where they must lead troops and capture resources in order to destroy key enemy targets. In my experience, there are just too many things going on in an RTS to be able to control them effectively on a console, and Brütal Legend is no exception. Maybe it works better in multiplayer, which admittedly I didn’t try, but this part of the game needs to be simplified somehow, probably just by scaling it down or by including more HUDs. In my experience, the only console game that’s ever done RTS really well is the Pikmin series, and that’s because it’s a simplified RTS that can only barely even be called an RTS.
I desperately want to not miss this game, but I do. I really do. If I ever see it on sale somewhere, it will take A LOT of willpower on my part to resist adding it to my collection. And Mr. Schafer, if you’re reading this, PLEASE let me help you fix your game. I know it’s presumptuous, but you’ve got a really great concept here, as usual, and it just needs a little bit of tweaking here and there to be perfect, also as usual.