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FWD Progress 10-15-2009: Brütal Legend Hands-On

Jack Black as Eddie Riggs from Brutal LegendSince I haven’t been able to get as much work on reviews and features as I’d like to lately, I thought it may be a good idea for me to start a (hopefully) daily blog post about my thoughts on day-to-day video game news, what I’m playing and maybe a bit about what I’m working on around here. I’ll likely start post every morning and update it throughout the day.

Today, I woke up unable to walk because of pain and weakness in my hip and ankle and I’m forced to use my cane around the house. Unfortunately, I was planning on playing some games on the Wii Balance Board today, specifically Wii Fit Plus and Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games. Instead, I’ll be playing some Xbox LIVE Games and really try to sink into Brütal Legend. Read More…

[9:24 AM] Been working on some back-end site stuff like cleaning up and reformatting old articles. I’m really starting to get excited about redesigning it again. It’s likely something I’ll do every year, simply for the fact that I get bored of looking at the same site all the time. We get enough traffic now that I think a forum would actually get used a bit, so I’m going to set one of those up. Hopefully it doesn’t get invaded by WoW gold farmers too badly, heh.

A Blue Nyko Wand[9:59 AM] Sipping my second cup of coffee and glancing at the daily Games Press update e-mail. I see that a browser version of LEGO Star Wars subtitled The Quest for R2D2 is in the works. I really enjoy the LEGO games for the most part, though the formula is starting to wear quite thin. The Quest for R2D2 is being developed by a studio called Three Melons and will run on the Unity Engine.

[10:13 AM] I see that the four different colours of the Nyko Wand are available at a Wal-Mart near you and will be shipping to other retailers soon. The Wii Remote alternative has a proprietary Trans-Port technology that promises greater peripheral options. I’ve never actually seen one of these things in person, but I would be willing to try it out, even if it is ugly.

[10:37 AM] Started using Google Adwords to help advertise the site a bit yesterday with a modest $0.75/day budget. I like the system so far and made about a dollar profit on the first day. If that trend keeps up, we’ll be sitting pretty and able to start covering some software and hardware costs.

[1:02 PM] I just spent a couple of hours starting into Brütal Legend on the Xbox 360 and I’m not thoroughly sold on it yet, but I am enjoying enough that it’s keeping me interested. The writing and acting are predictably above average and I’m impressed with how well Jack Black’s performance turned out. You can tell he really got into the role of Eddie Riggs.

Eddie Riggs Doing Some DamagaThe combat is so far quite dull and repetitive, but I knew that from the demo. The driving is decent enough. I’m not a huge fan of the solo mechanic, but I guess it serves a purpose (well, several actually). I’ve seen a lot of people describe larger battles and boss encounters as RTS-like, but I would equate it more with a game like Overlord or Pikmin, so far at least. Either way, I didn’t especially enjoy my first battle using head banging minions, but at the same time it’s not going to stop me from playing the game.

I love the overall look and art style of the game world, it’s like playing through a Metalocalypse episode at times. The characters are very expressive as well, which helps draw me into the story. The problem is that there’s very little to really see or do. It feels empty so far and something makes the whole package come across as decidedly “last-gen”.

The game’s performance isn’t exactly perfect either. There are some jarring frame rate drops, especially during cut scenes. It’s not game breaking though and thankfully I haven’t noticed any screen tearing yet. Like most open-world games, Brütal Legend also has some texture pop-in. On the audio side, dialogue lines can stitch together awkwardly.

The soundtrack, sound effects and mix are excellent, however and are worth turning up the home theatre for. I like metal quite a bit, which is, I guess, one of the reasons I was attracted to Brütal Legend in the first place. The soundtrack is diverse enough though that just about anyone with a penchant for rock should enjoy it.

I’ve heard that the game is roughly 8-12 hours long and that sounds just about how long I’ll want to spend with it. I knew I’d enjoy the storytelling aspect of Brütal Legend and have not been disappointed in that regard, but the gameplay itself isn’t nearly as compelling. I should be done with it next week and will hopefully get a review typed up shortly thereafter.