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Brutal Legend Review Rebuttal

I've just finished the game, short of 12 hours playtime. After reading the Dtoid review, I disagree. So here are some rebuttals to the points mentioned in the review (the italicized bits are blatantly quoted from the review).

"The connection to the story and the characters does suffer due to a few of the game's technical hiccups. For instance, in-game dialogue is sometimes delivered with the wrong timing -- an environmental cue will trigger a conversation too early or too late, for example -- which can be a bit jarring and confusing. Even some of the game's odd editing, including sloppy transitions from in-game action to cut-scenes, can interrupt the flow of the narrative. Simply put, the impressive efforts in writing simply don't translate as well as they could have with a bit more polish."

This has happened to me only once, at the very end of the game... yeah it was pretty damn lame, but honestly I didn't see this at all until then. However to suggest that this somehow kills the game's delivery, is a bit overboard.

"As far as the gameplay is concerned, Brütal Legend is a mish-mash of gaming styles and genres. While it's an interesting approach to design, the problem here is that not a single one of these elements is as satisfying or as fleshed-out as it should be. If you've played the demo, you're already familiar with the game's third-person action mechanics. Eddie can swing his big heavy metal axe to dismember, slice, or decapitate his foes. Alternately, he can use a guitar for attacks, including playing a button-pressing mini-game to perform one of the most amazing attacks you'll see in any game -- the "Face Melter." Aptly named, the attack will literally melt the faces of your enemies. Yes, it's as awesome as it sounds.

But for all of that, the third-person combat can also be repetitive and sloppy. With the block button mapped to the out-of-the-way "B" button, we rarely used it; instead we'd quickly hit "B" plus the analog stick while locked on an enemy to dodge attacks. Holding down the "B" button to block left us without a good way to attack, and therefore we mostly ignored it."

A mish-mash? Great, I'm tired of games that focus on only ONE shallow game mechanic. So at least the review mentions that there are several of them here, which is good thing in my book. See, shallow game mechanics are not a bad thing, they just get boring. But considering that there are numerous things to do, it breaks up the monotony and makes things more enjoyable. What's the down side again?

How satisfying should the third-person action have been? Like Devil May Cry? Like Mario? What is the metric? I personally found it pretty god damn satisfying. Slicing people up, power sliding, melting faces, zapping people, firing them up in the air with fireworks, buffing friendly units with solos, summoning the Deuce to run over people, summoning a flaming dirigible to drop it on enemies, summoning wild creatures to help you as AI units or as ride-able mounts with special attacks (LASER PANTHERS!!!). Did I play the same game? The reviewer didn't have fun with all that? This was more fun than pretty much any other 3rd person action adventure game out there, or if anything at least on par.

After completing the game, I can actually see the logic in not adding any extra depth to any of the game's combat systems. They are already all deep enough in a sense that, if they were any more complex or fleshed out the player would be overwhelmed during the game's RTS sequences... which, fuck everyone, are pretty awesome and fun in my opinion.

"As far as the lock-on is concerned, it's not exactly the most intelligent setup. Combat can sometimes get hectic, with Eddie and his army (more on that in a bit) taking on huge groups of baddies at once. Attempts to lock on to an enemy directly ahead of you, but a bit off in the distance, sometimes will cause you to lock on to a closer enemy to your left or right... one that's already engaged in combat. All the while, of course, that enemy off in the distance is repeatedly pounding you with some kind of ranged attack. It's fortunate that in big battles such as these, there's little reason to target enemies -- simple button mashing generally does the trick. While you can upgrade your abilities as you progress through the game, that button mashing feeling never truly goes away."

I barely used the lock-on in the game, the only times it's really necessary is when an enemy is out of reach, maybe on a ledge, or when you're fighting something that's pretty hard on you and requires performing dodging maneuvers. However, there's nothing wrong with the targeting, it works if you simply adjust to it. I don't know if the reviewer noticed, but your guitar attacks have limited range, and targeting is most likely adjusted for that. Also, since when is auto-targeting the closest enemy considered a bad thing? Boohoo, the enemy is far, run up to them... maybe if you don't stand in one spot and mash A over and over, the game will be more fun.

Speaking of which, the button mashing never goes away? No shit, it's a video game in which you kill things with an AXE. There's this other game I played.... uh.... oh yeah, Devil May Cry, my fucking hands hurt after playing it because of all the button mashing. 3rd person action games ALL have button mashing, so I don't understand the negative here. We mash buttons in games to do combat, that's how it works. There are combos, some pretty neat, and there are enough of them to mix the button presses up. USE them. If you spam A the whole game, don't be negative on it by stating that button mashing is not exciting. In fact, the Metal Forge will have lots of options for you to decide on exactly what kind of combat you want to be good at and which attacks you may want to use more than others.

"The Deuce can be summoned nearly anywhere in the world and at any time by simply playing a heavy metal riff, and you'll be doing this often, as the game's story objectives and side missions are scattered all over the game's world. Here's where the problem comes in -- navigating the world is a bit of a bitch. While you can can access a map by pressing select, the game's clean "we don't need no damned HUD" design means there's no constant mini-map on your screen.

While it's great that developers are looking for ways to immerse players in the game experience, doing that at the expense of having to pause the game to see a map every 30 seconds is unacceptable. Yes, you can set a beacon/waypoint on the map, which you can then follow to your destination, the turn signal of Eddie's car helping with general navigation. Regardless, there are times when you simply won't be able to see the beacon (if it's not in your line of sight, for instance), or the turn signals are giving seemingly odd direction advice... so it's back to the map screen, slowing down the action."

There's nothing wrong with navigating the world. It's not a bitch, it is fun. There's tons of stuff scattered around to find, and not having a perfectly clear direction is exciting because I always got to find cool stuff on my way to other places. Yeah, I may have not gotten from A to B the fastest and most direct way, but that would not have made the experience better for me. I loved driving around aimlessly sometimes, because the world rewards you for it.

Setting the beacon on the map to your desired quest and using the Deuce's lights was very easy once I figured out the mechanic for it. If you PAY ATTENTION, when you set the waypoint on the map, it uses the road system to plot a course. That's how the lights function, they always point to the road path that's best to take. However, the game allows you to go offroad and cut through the short way, but the turn signals are not tuned to that type of driving... as I said they assume road navigation. And on roads, the turn signals never give the wrong direction, so I dunno what the reviewer's problem is... maybe he was going around too fast and missing turns constantly. Clever nagivation is something the player must learn as they get familiar with the world. During the last third of the game I was driving around the entire world like it was my home town, without ever pressing the back button to bring up the map. Also the beacon works great, yes terrain sometimes obstructs it, stop crying. Honestly I had to use the map more in GTA games than I have in this one. Plus, this map is totally metal and kinda fun to look at still.

"You read that right: a huge part of Brütal Legend -- including most of the missions that will let you advance in the story, and those that serve as boss battles -- is a real-time strategy element that mixes the basic concepts of standard RTS games with squad-based console control mechanics from titles like Rainbow Six. It's unfortunate that this is such a significant portion of Brütal Legend's core gameplay, because quite frankly, it's the most tedious, least fun, and most broken part of the game. These instanced RTS battles generally have two factions battling for fan geysers to build "mech booths" on, which then provide you with resources to spend on units that you'll use to destroy your opponent's rock stage (or in at least one instance, the door to a fortress) or protect your own."

These are some of the most fun and challenging sequences in the game, and it would not be the same without them... read: less fun, more generic, and lame. If the RTS element in this game is tedious, then everyone who plays actual RTS games must be a time masochist beyond the caliber of WoW players. And anyone who plays 4X games is most likely an immortal, because the level of tedium is astronomical by Brutal Legend's standard.

The RTS is pretty straight forward actually. But there IS a strategy to it, and it is fun to play. Considering that Eddie is still around for all that fun with all of his regular skills, these sequences in the game get pretty entertaining. But let's see how the reviewer tears them apart.

"magine, if you will, playing a real-time strategy game with no mini-map to keep track of troops; instead you're given the ability to oversee only part of the battlefield by flying up and hovering above the action. The only way to order your troops is by way of clunky point-and-click beacons, and stop/go/attack commands that (if you're lucky) your troops will only listen to half of the time. Frustrating doesn't begin to describe these experiences, forced throughout Brütal Legend."

Yeah, I'm imagining and it's pretty awesome. It's different. It's not easy. It's exciting. Clunky point and click beacons? They seem to work just fine. Hold LSB, move stick to move beacon around, press Right on d-pad to mark it as a way-point for anyone around you to move to. KEY POINT: "anyone around you". This means you can only tell people to do something when they are in a small area around you, this is part of the challenge of this game mode. If this is too difficult for you then there is a solo that you can play that will direct all units from all over the map to your current location. So maybe the reviewer's troops weren't listening half the time because they were on the other side of the map. But he doesn't really talk about any of that, I wonder if he even paid attention to the game's tool-tips.

"Some of the battles can go on for upwards of one hour, with you fighting off hordes of enemies with your own troops, the back-and-forth struggle more repetitive and boring than fun. With zero checkpoints in the battles, it's possible to fail (or in many cases, you might simply turn off the console in frustration) 30 or 40 minutes in, and then get sent back to the start to do it all again. Simply put, these RTS sections are a miserable addition to a game that features otherwise inoffensive (if not somewhat obvious) gameplay."

Yes, the battles MAY last that long. But I was playing the game on normal difficulty, and finished most battles within 20-30 minutes until the end of the game. I actually thought they were pretty easy, because... you know, I used my head to think... and I would win pretty quickly. In fact, sometimes I was disappointed that I won so easily. So I was happy that the battles at the end of the game were more challenging and EPIC. Yes, if you fail you gotta start over. Big deal, cry moar.

The RTS sections are absolutely great. Yes, they could have been better. But they were pulled of well, are fun to play, are NOT tedious or frustrating. Are they a break from constant 3rd person button mashing? Yes, that's the point. Do they work within the context of the game? Yes. Do they fit well with all of the other mechanics? Yes.

"Being forced to participate in a number of these battles, including most of the major boss battles, was simply painful. With each RTS battle presented, we would groan, wishing at the most that Double Fine would have been able to refine this console RTS experience to make it more playable, and at the least, enjoyable. (Full disclosure: Towards the end of the game's story, we were forced to switch to the game's easiest mode, "Gentle," just so we could complete a particularly frustrating battle to "get it over with.")"

It just seems to me that we have a reviewer that doesn't like 3rd person action adventure games, OR rts games, reviewing a game that has both of those game elements together. Wow you guys had to switch to easy mode? Haha... I know what battle you are talking about. It's the one with the three heads right. Yeah, I bet you took one head down, and drove the Deuce in to it. And then the enemy spawned a force so big that it wiped the floor with you? Yeah, I know that happened because that's what happened to me, on my first try. So you know what I did? I adjusted my fucking strategy instead of going to easy mode. I beat it on the next try... I beat it with such grace and finesse that it's almost pathetic that you guys couldn't finish it and had to switch difficulty. This only proves to me that for some reason this game wasn't put in to the right hands to review it, it's almost as if you guys hated it from the start.

SPOILER: here's my strategy. The heads bombard your units, so you want to take them out. Taking each head out is a two step process. First you have your units beat it down, and then you drive the Deuce in to the window/eye thing. After you drive the Deuce in to it, the enemy will step up the game and obliterate you... so you need to prepare yourself. First of all, take down both heads but don't drive the Deuce in to any of them. This way your units will not get bombarded. Also, take control of all the fan geysers, that should not be hard at this point.

So now the situation is this: you have sweet fan income, and the only dps the enemy is doing is through the syringe critters (as the heads are down now). The heads will not come back, so you've just bought yourself some good time. Level up your stage to max so you can get the huge vehicle with the grinder thing in the front (forgot name of it). Also get a bunch of headbangers, groupies, and a couple bass playing dudes and level them up. Then add whatever other units you like that you have room for. This army will keep killing enemy critters, and as long as the heads are down you won't lose any units. Once you've accumulated a good surplus of fans, say 1000. You're way in the green to continue your attack.

Drive the Deuce in to one of the heads now. The enemy will spawn tons of their tough units, however the grinder vehicle's double team attack is absolutely vicious. It raises a mini stone henge like thing that locks enemies in a circle, and then a huge sword plows in to them destroying almost any unit in one hit. So just with that one vehicle you'll stop the attacks. Now that you've driven in to the first head, the second head revives and you must bring it down once more... but it should be easy. Then drive the Deuce in to it, and clear the heavy enemy units again. You should have no problems at all doing it this way.

The reviewer, and the other people in his office all sucked ass at this game apparently.

"As it turns out, these RTS sections are simply a tutorial for the game's online multiplayer, which mirrors these instanced sections in just about every way."

Yup, I haven't tried it yet though. But I'm sure it's going to be fun at least for a little while. If you think about it, the whole RTS element in this game is a somewhat twisted and stripped down version of Defence of the Ancients.

"But considering the multiplayer is built around what is easily the one gameplay style that ultimately destroys the single-player experience, it's hard to imagine this mode will have legs in the long run."

My opinion is: fuck your opinion.

"Again, Brütal Legend should be one of the greatest video games ever made; the key word here is "should." It's with a heavy heart that, after almost 15 hours of play (including multiplayer and single-player side quests), we have to report that it simply doesn't deliver the way we wanted it to."

What the hell were you guys expecting? Because you don't offer any constructive criticism to describe what you wanted vs. what you got. And since you didn't do that, I don't give a crap if you got what you wanted. This game IS awesome. And while I could totally give it an 8 or a 9 personally, I see it deserving at least a solid 7 in the grand scheme of things. Giving it a 6, which is a number that the public pretty much refuses to recognize these days, is underrating the game heavily. I know that it says "rent it". But how many people will even bother?

I don't think anyone who was looking forward to this game and respects Dtoid reviews above all else (as I do actually) should miss out on playing it. Go play it and see for yourself. As the game starts, Jack Black tells you that it will blow not just your mind, but your soul... and it does.
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About The Kojukinatorone of us since 1:58 PM on 07.06.2009

I play and enjoy all sorts of games. My actively used systems include PC, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, and PSP.

Also since I don't smoke, and everyone knows smoking makes you look cool, I'm instead going to try and sound like a bigger douche than I really am... as I notice that makes you even cooler!