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SummaryTim Schäfer isn't really good at making video games
The GoodThe story is just plain awesome; time-travelling roadie, heavy-metal world, demons, it is just amazing. I especially loved how this game was much darker than Tim's previous game, Psychonauts, which was a very cheerful and happy game. The characters are also much more enjoyable, but because this is an RTS-game they didn't characterize every character in the entire game, only the main characters received Tim's magic characterization touch. My favorite character was the Kill-Master, he was very laid-back and had some really clever lines.
The entire game is set in a heavy-metal world and there is never a moment that you don't notice that; there is steel everywhere, the RTS-battles take place on stages and there are giant statues all over the place. It's kind of silly, but also very awesome to just ride around this world and explore it (and drive over enemy patrols while you're at it). There were also some clever references to be found, like a highway that led all the way to the Demon's base, this of course referring to the song "Highway to Hell" from ACDC (I believe that's the case at least).
The fighting was pretty awesome and this is definitely my favorite hack & slash game out there. You switch very fast between fighting with your axe and fighting with your guitar, you can also play songs during combat to help you out. A more advanced option is to team-up with another unit, but I rarely used this because I always forgot it was there and the effects were rarely different from just punching enemies. That was before you got to ride the fire-breathing monsters though...
The BadDoes Tim Schäfer have any idea what difficulty means? Psychonauts was already impossible at the end, but this game becomes impossible around the time you find the Sea of Black Tears: You can't even stand on the ground anymore or even come close to the fight because you will be shot down within two seconds. There are also enemies that pose no challenge, but just take a million hits to die, leaving you open for other attackers. I finished this game the first time I played it, but when I tried to replay it for this review I abandoned it.
In a game that requires you to find objects in the game world as part of a collection-quest, it's important that the objects you have to find stand-out in the world. Just look at music notes in "Banjo & Kazooie" for example, but in Brütal Legend everything stands-out. I found myself driving past so many grey statues just because they were standing next to; grey rocks, bigger grey statues or some metal construction, it doesn't work! This is also the first game I have played in a very long time, that doesn't have a jump-button and this just happens to be a game where jumping would have made a lot of situations a lot easier.
All side-quests, aside from one or two, were just the same four different kind of missions over and over again. I must have done at least a hundred of those incredibly boring side-quests and they were always the same and they never got any harder. You either; fight enemies normally, shoot at enemies from your car or you're racing. They are all incredibly easy and repeated over and over again, nearing the end of the game I could just mute the sound and do the voice-acting myself!
There is a lot of over-acting in this game and that is a first for me, I have never seen a game where the acting was so over-the-top before and it's sad that it had to be one of Tim's games. Lars, Lita and Eddie Riggs were especially good at this. There were times I muted the sound, fearing that if somebody walked by my room they might think games aren't anywhere near as good as movies when it comes to acting. Shame on you Double Fine, you should have picked better actors or a better script!
The music contains a lot of awesome songs that fit very well with the setting, normally this would be a good thing, but in this game it feels like you are listening to a weird demo or your CD has scratches on it. Let me explain it: When you enter the car a song starts, you quickly drive to where you need to be, you do what you have to do, enter the car again which causes a new song to start playing. Most actions like looking through spyglasses only take five seconds and driving is really quick, so a lot of time the song changes before the singing even starts.
The Bottom LineI really want to like Tim Schäfer, but while he got the story and atmosphere of his games right, he keeps failing at the gameplay part. If Tim would stop making games and started making movies he would be the next big hit. You might have fun with this game if you are incredibly forgiving, the story is certainly worth a look and the game looks awesome, but playing it is not as enjoyable as one might think.
I was very merciful against Psychonauts in my review of it, but that was because my game crashed after two hours of gameplay and I had to write the review based on my memories of the game. Tim is not good at making video games, Psychonauts probably deserved more of a beating, but it's still way better than Brütal Legend. Sorry Tim, but I am not going to buy your games anymore.