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Joystiq impressions redux: Brutal Legend

Kevin Kelly

We imagine that we'll have several more looks at Brütal Legend before it drops in Rocktober, and that's just fine with us. We took a look at the opening scenes of the game back in April, along with other key moments like the creation of The Deuce (protagonist Eddie's hot-rod) the start of a headbangin' revolution. This time around we spent an hour with the legendary Tim Schafer as he took us into the full-fledged stage battle mode.

If there's one thing we took away from it, it's that people will be going nutshit for this game. Find out what that means after the break.

Gallery: Brutal Legend (05-14-09) | 7 Photos

Schafer took us through the backstory, which has roadie Eddie Riggs working backstage at a rock show, only to accidentally get some blood on his demonic belt buckle. The buckle ends up transporting him to a world that looks like the rock stage he was working on except, instead of plaster and plywood, it's all real. Eddie later finds out that this buckle demon is Ormagöden: The Fire Beast, Cremator of the Sky, Destroyer of the Ancient World ... and Keeper-Upper of Pants.

If you've been wondering what Rob Halford looks like as General Lionwhyte, wonder no more.

"Can we have a four-legged, gaspack, kneecapped demon thing with a nun on top? Yes."

Tim Schafer explained that he wanted Brütal Legend to convey the worlds dreamed up on the covers of heavy metal albums. "The concept art... we looked at the covers of tons of heavy metal albums, and that let us know what we could have and could not have in the game. A big giant pile of corpses? Yes, we can have that. Can we have a four-legged, gaspack, kneecapped demon thing with a nun on top? Yes." If you've ever seen it on a metal album, chances are you'll see it in this game.

The new stuff we saw had Eddie assembling his crew and building a stage, which happens whenever there's a battle royale about to take place. As you start building the stage -- via commands issued to your sound guy, Mangus -- glowing, green, ghostly figures will start appearing. They're spectral fans who have come to see the show. "They're a natural resource in the game, and they're neutral. But they're full of energy and you can use them to put on a better rock show, which in this world means to wage a better war."

How do you best capitalize on geysers of spectral fans? Build a merchandise booth on top of them.

How do you best capitalize on geysers of spectral fans? Build a merchandise booth on top of them. Doing so will keep you fueled and give you resources that allow construction of more units. Eddie will bark things out to Mangus -- "Get those Runaways set up backstage!"-- and you'll see a timer showing how much time is left until the units are ready to stage dive into the battle. From time to time, Mangus will tell you what direction the baddies are coming from, and you'll want to protect your merch booths to keep your energy flowing in.

All of the units have a secondary team-up attack: for instance, the Runaways will jump on Eddie's shoulders and deal double damage, while the Headbangers will form a phalanx around Eddie and act as a meatshield. You'll be able to jump on Kilmister's Thunder Hog bike and fire off enormous bass notes as an attack. While you're doing all of this, General Lionwhyte (see: huge-haired bad guy) will start trying to take your merch booths for himself, so you'll have a lot to contend with between fighting the bad guys and protecting your merch.

Though it's a story element that Schafer has yet to elaborate on, Eddie can also transform into a winged demon, free to take an airborne view of the battlefield. From the higher vantage point, you can set glowing shafts of light as rally points for newly created troops, wail on your guitar to deal out damage, and have your crew build merch booths.

We asked if Kyle Gass was going to be in the game, and the response was, "Ummmm. We aren't saying anything about that right now." Of course, they'd already announced that Gass was going to be part of the exclusive preorder bonus material, so does this mean he'll also be showing up elsewhere in the game? It'd be a real shame if he didn't. There will also most likely be more metal cameos by the time the game is finalized, besides the already announced Rob Halford, Lita Ford, and Lemmy Kilmister.

Some other tidbits we learned:
  • Besides Bladehenge, there are other Henge-themed locales, like Beerhenge.
  • There will be lots of side missions and free time to explore the massive world.
  • Eddie can't just bust out guitar combo after guitar combo non-stop. Eventually, he'll burn his fingers and have to stop for a bit.
  • They're licensing some pretty rocking tunes for the game, but they asked us not to reveal any since deals are still being worked out ... possibly including some music created by heavy metal greats just for the game.
  • The Deuce has taillights that will blink and tell you if you're on the right path, while a spotlight from the sky will illuminate your next destination.
  • Eddie learns more guitar solos as the game progresses, including a face-melting solo that literally melts the faces off your enemies.
  • Eddie's willing male followers are the headbangers, while his foes are the hairbangers, continuing the ancient musical battle of heavy metal vs. hair bands.
  • The female followers are the Runaways, who were previously slaves in General Lionwhyte's pleasure tower.
  • Lemmy Kilmister plays the leader of the Thunder Hogs, and he heals your units by playing bass.
  • Every game at EA's preview event was shown on an Xbox 360 or a Wii ... except for this one, which was on the PS3.
  • Schafer is creating new vernacular for the game, including "nutshit." As in Eddie telling a bunch of his headbanger minions, "When I do this (hand gesture) you go completely nutshit on whatever I'm pointing at." You heard it hear first. According to Schafer, everyone will be saying it next year.

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