Video 24: Grandma plays Brutal Legend
I'd say never so much before has a game made Grandma squeal with joy whilst simultaneously pissing her off, but you know that's not true. That describes pretty much every goddamn game she likes.
She absolutely adored it.
Brutal Legend is not an easy game. Usually if a game seems relatively impossible, Grandma will lower down the difficulty, play until she gets the hang of things and slowly raise it up. That's how she made it through Veteran difficulties in the Call of Duty series, for instance.
Brutal Legend is, well.. fucking brutal. The demo never really allowed one to preview its RTS-esque functions, so even though she knew it was coming, it was still difficult to switch from her Halo Wars view of RTS strategy into this new technique of augmenting the shit out of oneself and plowing towards an objective. The difference between Gentle, Normal, and Brutal modes seems to be a test on how much you can utilize doubleteaming effectively. Grandma likes to just smash the hell out of things without resorting to that triangle button, but she got used to it.
Enough to get through it on Normal so far, anyway.
One could argue that Brutal Legend tries to be a whole bunch of different games. Twisted Metal, Psychonauts, Overlord, with a hint of Guitar Hero and a dash of Starcraft. For comparisons' sake, that's fair. But the game has an overriding theme that's held soundly, Metal, that gave it a soul of its own.
The art and the music bring everything together very, very nicely.
After watching Grandma play one particularly beautiful cutscene that I won't give away, I can never listen to the song Mr. Crowley the same way again. And I don't mean that it was ruined. Far from it. It just fit, hauntingly.
THAT is the best way I can describe Brutal Legend. Everything just fits. It NEEDED the car action; it NEEDED the stage battles; it NEEDED that story for it to all work.
The voice acting was perfect. These people gave life to the characters. I don't have to mention any names, you can already think of a dozen games where the voice acting was unnecessary and annoying. I can't imagine Brutal Legend without them, honestly. And that's rare.
And it was the characters who gave Grandma the most joy. This was a surprisingly great fucking story. When it starts, you think "okay, quirky dude kills some bad dudes and does quirky things." And the game lets you believe that.
But I won't ruin it.
Grandma insists it was the driving that gave her the biggest challenge, but I was the one sitting at the computer in her game room listening to her swear at her television, and I can tell you those stage battles can be HARD.
"GOD DAMMIT. I need so many fans to make the army big but they keep knocking down my towers but I can't fight them because I don't have an army! COCKSUCKERS, NO GODDAMMIT"
-"Build an army, then."
"I DON'T HAVE ANY FUCKING FANS!"
She'd shove her controller at me and give me a puppy-dog look, and I'd try to do it. The thing is, I really suck. So she'd get frustrated just watching me.
"No, you have to use the roadies, the speaker guys to sneak up to the stage."
-"How do you do that?"
"Use the face melter. THE FACE MELTER!"
And then she'd take the controller back :)
Full disclosure and all, Grandma bought her copy, and I got her the Brutal Legend hoodie she's rocking in the video. She preordered her game from Gamestop (at PAX, on a little computer at the EA booth), but we did see it at Target for $10 less than other places if you don't have a copy yet. It's safe to say we worship Tim Schafer and his merry band of lunatics, but Grandma would be happy to tell him to go fuck himself if the game was shit.
This game is not shit. You will not be disappointed if you expect a game made by brilliant crazy people. Just dive into it for a few hours and you'll know what we mean.
Double Fine put a hell of a lot of heart into this thing. It's just a real bitch to pry it from their steely metal ribcages.
**edit** Holy shit, you guys! Kotaku gave Grandma some love... again! Thank you, Owen! We're not traffic whores by any stretch, but it's always exciting getting a link like this. We love you guys. If you jump a couple posts down, you'll read about our brief reunion with Stephen Totilo at PAX. (He's really short.) Rock!