Tag Archives: Tim Schafer

Naughty Dog wins everything (except for that Tim Schafer game) at DICE 2010

We knew Naughty Dog’s time was coming, but did the Santa Monica developer have to win 99% of the awards at the 13th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards held at DICE 2010 in Las Vegas?

The answer is “yes.” Darn tooting. Naughty Dog is now officially in chapter 3 of its stunning career, the post Crash Bandicoot, post Jak and Daxter chapter, and it’s doing quite well, thank you. 

In addition to the AIAA award for best game of the year, the studio once known for its Crash Bandicoot games and now, clearly known for its Uncharted series, won nine others: Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction, Adventure Game of the Year, Outstanding Achievement in Animation, Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering, Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction, Outstanding Achievement in Story – Original, Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition, Outstanding Achievement in Game Play Engineering, and Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design.

Luckily, there were some other awards left, like sports, RPGs, and simulation. And hey, my other favorite games of the year, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and Brutal Legend, took home awards, too.

One should put these awards in context of the bigger picture. You’ll notice there are almost no Japanese games included here. That’s because in order to become a contestant in a category, publishers have to pay a membership fee. I remember hearing my friend Matt Casamassina (from IGN) complain how Resident Evil 4, originally exclusive for GameCube, didn’t win in 2005 because Capcom wasn’t an AAIA member. Looks like Capcom remedied that issue since, as it won this year’s AIAA fighting game of the year award. So, yeah, the Annual Interactive Achievement Awards aren’t a good or complete global representation of all the games across the planet.

The full list of awards reads like this:

Game of the Year: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Producer: Sam Thompson
* Creative Director: Amy Hennig
* Game Director: Bruce Straley

Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Producer: Sam Thompson
* Creative Director: Amy Hennig
* Game Director: Bruce Straley

Casual Game of the Year: Flower
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
* Developer: thatgamecompany
* Producer: Kellee Santiago
* Creative Director: Jenova Chen

Fighting Game of the Year: Street Fighter IV
* Publisher: Capcom
* Developer: Capcom
* Producer: Yoshinori Ono

Role-Playing/Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year: Dragon Age: Origins
* Publisher: Electronic Arts
* Developer: Bioware
* Producer: Mark Darrah
* Creative Director: Mike Laidlaw
* Game Director: Mark Darrah

Sports Game of the Year: FIFA Soccer 10
* Publisher: Electronic Arts
* Developer: EA Canada
* Producer: David Rutter
* Creative Director: Gary Paterson
* Game Director: Kaz Makita

Racing Game of the Year: Forza Motorsport 3
* Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
* Developer: Turn 10 Studios
* Producer: Korey Krauskopf
* Creative Director: John Wendl
* Game Director: Dan Greenawalt

Outstanding Achievement in Game Design: Batman: Arkham Asylum
* Publisher: Eidos/Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment
* Developer: Rocksteady Studios
* Lead Level Designer: Ian Ball

Adventure Game of the Year: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Producer: Sam Thompson
* Creative Director: Amy Hennig
* Game Director: Bruce Straley

Social Networking Game of the Year: Farmville
* Publisher: Zynga
* Developer: Zynga
* Producer: David Gray
* Creative Director: Mark Skaggs
* Game Director: Bill Mooney

Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year: Brutal Legend
* Publisher: Electronic Arts
* Developer: Double Fine Productions
* Producer: Caroline Esmurdoc
* Creative Director: Tim Schafer
* Game Director: Tim Schafer

Action Game of the Year: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
* Publisher: Activision
* Developer: Infinity Ward
* Producer: Mark Rubin
* Game Director: Jason West

Family Game of the Year: The Beatles: Rock Band
* Publisher: MTV Games
* Developer: Harmonix Music Systems
* Producers: Paul DeGooyer, Jeff Jones, Alex Rigopulos
* Creative Director: Chris Foster
* Game Director: Josh Randall

Outstanding Innovation in Gaming: Scribblenauts
* Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
* Developer: 5th Cell Media
* Producer: Joseph M. Tringali
* Creative Director: Jeremiah Slaczka
* Game Director: Jeremiah Slaczka

Outstanding Achievement in Animation: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Lead Animators: Josh Scherr, Jeremy Lai-Yates, Mike Yosh

Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Technology Director: Pal-Kristian Engstad

Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Art Directors: Erick Pangilinan, Robh Ruppel

Outstanding Achievement in Story -Adapted: Batman: Arkham Asylum
* Publisher: Eidos/Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment
* Developer: Rocksteady Studios
* Writers: Paul Dini, Paul Crocker

Outstanding Character Performance: Batman: Arkham Asylum – Joker
* Publisher: Eidos/Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment
* Developer: Rocksteady Studios
* Writers: Paul Dini, Paul Crocker
* Voice Actor: Mark Hamill

Outstanding Achievement in Online Game Play: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
* Publisher: Activision
* Developer: Infinity Ward
* Lead Online Designer: Todd Alderman

Outstanding Achievement in Story – Original: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Writers: Amy Hennig, Neil Druckmann, Josh Scherr

Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Composer: Greg Edmonson

Outstanding Achievement in Soundtrack: Brutal Legend
* Publisher: Electronic Arts
* Developer: Double Fine Productions
* Music Supervisor: Emily Ridgway

Outstanding Achievement in Game Play Engineering: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Lead Game Play Programmer: Travis McIntosh

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
* Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
* Developer: Naughty Dog
* Sound Designer/Audio Lead: Bruce Swanson

Outstanding Achievement in Portable Game Design: Scribblenauts
* Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
* Developer: 5th Cell Media
* Lead Level Designer: Matt Cox

Portable Game of the Year: Scribblenauts
* Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
* Developer: 5th Cell Media
* Producer: Joseph M. Tringali
* Creative Director: Jeremiah Slaczka
* Game Director: Jeremiah Slaczka

Thanks to Gamasutra.com for the full list of winners.

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What’s wrong with the VGAs

When Zach Braff (Scrubs) stepped on stage at the VGAs Saturday night, his face said it all. Escorted on stage by a model dressed as valkyrie warrior (or something), Braff sized up the tall vixen at his side, feigned fright, then appeared on the verge of laughter. He looked embarrassed. To begin his speech, he yelled, “Hello, fellow nerds!”

Last night as I watched the VGAs, a landslide of feelings poured across me, and like Braff, one of those feelings was embarrassment. I felt pride, happiness, and angst, too. But it’s the former emotion that raised my hackles. I was embarrassed by the very tall model having to wear those stupid get-ups. (She never spoke, but she certainly gave Braff a look.) I was embarrassed by the mention of the phrase “balls” more than a half dozen times, courtesy of Jake Gyllenhaal’s game of the year monologue and Joel McHale’s catchy little mid-show appearance. And I was angered by Hollywood’s general sense of embarrassment at appearing on the VGAs, while talented and hardworking designers and producers got on stage, unfolded their acceptance speeches, and bravely flashed their souls in front of millions of people.

Naughty Dog's Amy Hennig receives the game of the year award at the VGAs (AP).

The Video Game Awards (VGAs), the closest thing the video game industry has to Hollywood’s Oscars, still has a long way to go before it really makes sense of the videogame industry–and before it’s taken seriously by the Hollywood stars that line its runways. What I saw last night was a flashier, better produced, and certainly more star-studded show than ever before (with fewer gaffes, to be fair), but I still got the sense that, from a show about video games, video games are still very much Hollywood’s nerdy little cousin–and they still haven’t found their place on TV.

I wonder, is it possible to air a video game show without the constant flash of violence, big tits, and an endless array of explosions? The collage of images I saw Saturday night showed little intrinsic value to video games. Perhaps that’s why Braff, along with Olivia Wilde (who was thrown off her short script by calls from the audience), didn’t take it seriously. If there is anything genuine, human, and real about the video game industry, is there is any art, innovation, or brilliance, it wasn’t shown at the VGAs.

There were sparks of human emotion, and these were the few moments where I felt the show succeeded. It’s great, truly great, that Flower won the Best Independent Videogame Award and that Chair Studio won Best Downloadable Game. These weren’t even categories a few years ago. One of the most genuine acceptance speeches I saw all night was from the Flower team, where they briefly explained the absurdity of pitching a game about emotions and blossoming to Sony, and ended by asking all of the millions of laid off game makers to join them in indie development.

Naughty Dog creative director Amy Hennig gave a heartfelt acceptance speech, and because I have spent many hours talking with Amy about games, I could tell she delivered a genuine heartfelt speech that didn’t fit any mold or formula. I am so happy for her and her team. They fully deserve all the recognition they get.

It was great to see the Assassin’s Creed II team receive their award for best action-adventure game. The Ubisoft Montreal team spoke in both English and in French on stage, didn’t ham it up and, for anyone paying attention to the shift in talent traveling to Canada, represent some of our Northern neighbor’s growing top talent.

Perhaps the biggest win of the night was the best studio award. The guys from Rocksteady, basically an unknown English studio whose claim to fame was the totally ignored Urban Chaos: Riot Response, were grateful, excited, and earnest. Their success story is just fantastic, and their game, Batman: Arkham Asylum, is equally fantastic. It perfectly balances high production values and smart writing that shows the writers really get the Batman character and the universe, and an excellent balance of stealth, action, and adventure. Every comic book videogame from now on will have to reach as high as Batman Arkham Asylum from here on out.

When I think of the Oscars, I often remember the collages of movies and actors who have been a part of the industry’s success; the retrospectives about people who made a difference. When the great directors, actors, writers, and special effects technicians who excel at their craft are recognized and rewarded for their achievements, it puts in perspective what the industry has achieved in the past in comparison to the achievements its awarding today. When I saw the VGAs Saturday night, I saw a show that gave no recognition to its past, that gave no award to its founders, that didn’t seem to have a past or a future, just a right-here, right-now orgasm of action, flashing lights and…the Bravery. Yes, I too like action, flashing lights, and a little Snoop Dog in my cultural diet, but when I eat a meal, I don’t just eat steak by itself.

What’s perhaps equally disturbing is that all night I listened to invisible “professional announcers” guide me through the show. There was no guide, no host, no person, who represented the world of videogames to hold my hand, make me laugh, show me the history of the industry, and again, put the awards, and the industry, in perspective. What does it mean to win best shooter of the year? Who won last year? Are their any journalists out there who could be interviewed to put the games in perspective? One easy solution is to have the previous year’s winner present the current year’s award, informing the audience and passing the torch in a way that means something.

There is a reason no real host was called upon last night. That person doesn’t exist. For starters, actors regularly fail at representing the industry because it’s clear they get paid lots of money to act in films, and that they appear on videogame shows for charity or because of a contract agreement (with notable exceptions like Vin Diesel). Second, there is no charming gamer nerd with the savvy to get up on stage and ride the fence between games and film/TV with moxie, perspective, and charm. From the game industry, the closest anyone has come to nailing that perfect blend are Tim Schafer, Will Wright, Cliff “CliffyB” Bleszinski, and Ken Levine. I am sure there are other talented game creators and personalities around who could pull it off.

Perhaps the show could hire better, funnier writers, too. The joke Tony Hawk told about action adventure games created a dreaded void of discomfort afterward. Almost every actor who took the stage was given sub-par lines, and the Tiger Woods jokes were just plain terrible. Stevie Wonder’s appearance was smart and his challenge to developers to create games for the blind and handicapped will be remembered as a highlight of the show. Jack Black’s entertaining skit for mistaking his best game of the year acceptance speech was pure Jack Black–silly, ballsy, and fun. But in all, instead of being helmed by a person, the host-less VGAs were peppered with Hollywood actors who looked out of place, embarrassed, and itching to get off that stage.

In the end, the VGAs represent the video game industry’s struggle for acceptance in the mainstream world in just the same way movies and TV are accepted. The truth is, the video game industry isn’t the same as the movie industry–though with shows like the VGAs, it’s clear the desire to be like Hollywood still burns brightly. And while I understand last night’s show was fully sponsored by Mountain Dew (the night’s biggest message), and it has to make money and attract an audience, the game industry needs better representation than last night’s show. It needs smarter, funnier video game people and less Mike Tyson. It needs fewer embarrassed actors and more genuine ones. It needs better writing that doesn’t rely on mentioning testicles over and over again to show that the industry actually has balls, and it needs to show its rich heritage, interesting origins, and the stories and characters that made it what it is today. And I don’t mean just trotting out Nolan Bushnell again and again (although he is great in his own way), but getting Shigeru Miyamoto out there to give us a sense of where we started and have come. Putting Will Wright out there to share with us his rocket scientist vision of the future of games. Hauling out Jordan Mechner to put the upcoming Prince of Persia movie in perspective–and not just his happiness at its acknowledgement. What about getting Ken Levine on stage to show us his quirky brilliance? Or having David Jaffe up there? That man’s blog is a world of entertainment.

With a better mixture of video game talent, more relevant Hollywood talent (Jake Gyllenhaal, Jack Black = good; Tyson, Jersey Shore = bad), a perspective, and a smart host, the VGAs could really be something worthy of the industry it represents. As it is, the VGAs are just a sideshow in Hollywood’s ongoing carnival.

Check this story for the show’s full list of winners (a lot of news stories out there show incomplete lists).

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Brutal Legend Demo Slated for September

Electronic Arts today announced it will offer a free demo download of Brutal Legend on PSN and XBLA this September. Tim Schafer’s outrageous game is slated for October 13 in North America and October 16 in Europe.

If you value all that is right in this unholy world, you will download the metal goodness.

brutallegend_themouthofmadness_view

“We just couldn’t wait,” said Schafer, president of Double Fine Productions. “Villagers have surrounded our offices with torches, demanding the game. So we’re releasing a demo and hope that this taste of metal will keep the mob at bay until Brutal Legend comes out this Rocktober.”

For more on the Brutal Legend demo, go to brutallegend.com/demo.

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Brutal Legend Multiplayer Hands-on

You’ve heard the rants from what you think are extreme fanboys. Seen the accolades laid upon a studio that seems to take forever–four years–just to make a single game. And witnessed the drama from Microsoft’s punt of Psychonauts to Activision’s trite and meaningless lawsuit (recently settled out of court). It’s all a bit crazy, but in truth there is a reason for all the fuss: It’s a Tim Schafer game.

brutallegend_battlecry

In San Francisco last week at the Mighty Club, Schafer and Double Fine debuted a hands-on session of Brutal Legend’s multiplayer component, a distillation of the story campaign’s big band battles including all of the strange characters and vehicles from the single-player game and its strangely unique RTS gameplay. We got to play it. Hear Schafer narrative a demo, and watch the strangest looking RTS the world has ever known.

See the full hands-on preview on GamesRadar.com. And make sure to check the full 100-plus song list revealed here.

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Brutal Legend Soundtrack Solved!

Now that Activision’s legal insanity has ended, Electronic Arts today revealed the complete list of songs available for the October release of Brutal Legend, the next big thing from Tim Schafer’s Double Fine studio.

The soundtrack consists of 107 songs featuring those by Black Sabbath, Candlemass, Dragonforce, Mastodon, Motley Crue, Anthrax, Anvil, and more.

The evil mines are guarded by these ham-fisted baddies, who are all bark and no bite.

The evil mines are guarded by these ham-fisted baddies, who are all bark and no bite.

“This soundtrack took years to put together as we wanted to represent every genre of Metal, and also have the perfect music for every epic moment in the game,” explained Tim Schafer, president of Double Fine, who solved a self-imposed Rubik’s Cube challenge in less than three minutes as EA’s Music Director Emily Ridgeway read the list in a recent video. “It’s designed to be loved by Metal fans, and for those who are not, it will either convert them or make their heads explode … or both.”

“What can I say?,” said Ridgeway. “It’s metal. It’s the best. It’ll kick your f***ing teeth in.”

The complete Brutal Legend soundtrack consists of these bands and songs (bands in plain text, songs in italics):

3 Inches of Blood
Deadly Sinners

3 Inches of Blood
Destroy The Orcs

Accept
Fast As A Shark

Angel Witch
Angel Witch

Anthrax
Metal Thrashing Mad

Anvil
March of the Crabs

Anvil
Tag Team

Apostasy
Sulphur Injection

Bishop of Hexen
A Serpentine Grave

Bishop of Hexen
The Somber Grounds of Truth

Black Sabbath
Children of the Grave

Black Sabbath
Symptom of the Universe

Black Sabbath
Never Say Die

Brocas Helm
Cry of the Banshee

Brocas Helm
Drink the Blood of the Priest

Budgie
Breadfan

Budgie
Zoom Club

Candlemass
Witches

Carcass
No Love Lost

Cloven Hoof
Nightstalker

Children of Bodom
Angels Don’t Kill

Coroner
Skeleton on your Shoulder

Cradle of Filth
Her Ghost in the Fog

Crimson Glory
Queen of the Masquerade

Dark Fortress
Insomnia

Dark Tranquility
Cathode Ray Sunshine

Deathstars
Blitzkrieg

Def Leppard
Rock of Ages

Dethklok
Mermaider

Diamond Head
Am I Evil?

Dimmu Borgir
Progenies of the Great Apocalypse

Dokken
Mr. Scary

Dragonforce
Through the Fire and Flames

Emperor
Thus Spake The Nightspirit

Enslaved
Frost

Enslaved
Loke

Firehouse
Overnight Sensation

Girlschool
Bomber

Iced Earth
When the Night Falls

Iced Earth
Pure Evil

In Flames
Goliaths Disarm Their Davids

Judas Priest
Battle Hymn

Judas Priest
The Hellion/Electric Eye

Judas Priest
Leather Rebel

Judas Priest
One Shot At Glory

Judas Priest
Painkiller

Kabbage Boy
Girlfriend

KMFDM
Free Your Hate

KMFDM
Rip The System

King Diamond
Cremation

King Diamond
Welcome Home

Kiss
God of Thunder

Lita Ford
Betrayal

Marilyn Manson
Beautiful People

Manowar
Die For Metal

Manowar
The Dawn Of Battle

Mastodon
Crack the Skye

Mastodon
Oblivion Instrumental

Megadeath
High Speed Dirt

Megadeath
Tornado of Souls

Metal Church
Metal Church

Michael Schenker Group
Assault Attack

Ministry
Stigmata

Ministry
Thieves

Mirrorthrone
So Frail

Motley Crue
Dr. Feelgood

Motley Crue
Kickstart My Heart

Motley Crue
Live Wire

Motorhead
Back at the Funny Farm

Motorhead
In the Black

Motorhead
Marching Off to War

Motorhead
We Are the Road Crew

Nitro
Machine Gun Eddie

Omen
The Axeman

Ostrogoth
Queen of Desire

Overkill
World of Hurt

Ozzy Osbourne
Believer

Ozzy Osbourne
Mr. Crowley

Ozzy Osbourne
Diary of a Madman

Prong
Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck

Quiet Riot
The Wild and the Young

Racer X
Technical Difficulties

Racer X
Y.R.O.

Ratt
Lay It Down

Riot
Road Racin

Riot
Narita

Riot
Swords and Tequila

Rob Zombie
Superbeast

Rotting Christ
Ad Notics

Running Wild
Riding the Storm

Sanctuary
Battle Angels

Savatage
Hall of the Mountain King

Saxon
Wheels of Steel

Scorpions
Blackout

Scorpions
Holiday

Skeletonwitch
Soul Thrashing Black Sorcery

Skid Row
Youth Gone Wild

Slayer
Metal Storm/Face The Slayer

Slough Feg
Warriors Dawn

Static-X
Love Dump

Tenacious D
Master Exploder

Tenacious D
The Metal

Testament
For The Glory Of

Testament
More Than Meets The Eye

Tvangeste
Birth of the Hero

UFO
Rock Bottom

Whitesnake
Still of the Night

Wrath of Killenstein
Ignisis Dance

Brutal Legend ships to Xbox 360 and PS3 October 13, 2009. Look for a hands-on multiplayer preview this Thursday. In the meantime, check out updated hands-on impressions.

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Brutal Legend’s Eddie Riggs Gets Demonic

Eddie in hie new form, Ophelia, Mangus, and Lars (you know that's Robert Plant).

Eddie in his new form, Ophelia, Mangus, and Lars.

Every time I see Brutal Legend demoed, and it’s three times now, Double Fine Studios reveals something far more interesting and surprising than I expected.

The assumption I am making, of course, is that Tim Schafer makes really funny, well-written, and entertaining games, but that as games, the mechanics and technology behind them aren’t always on par with the high level of hilarity, premise, or dialogue. I still haven’t played Brutal Legend yet, but not only is the concept extremely creative, and the dialogue funny, but each new demo I attend reveals new gameplay elements, like massive army battles, new gameplay elements, and surprising twists.

The Roadie from Hell

The first twist is that yes, the wild, big-fisted, square-jawed Jack Black dude turns into a bat from hell. Just look at him.

His transformation isn’t sexual or mystical or spiritual, like Raziel from Legacy of Kain’s Soul Reaver. No, during a scene that introduces the battle of the bands on a huge grassy meadow where Eddie is organizing troops, he suddenly falls in his knees in pain. “Ohhhh, my back,” he says. Ophelia looks at him and asks what’s wrong. Nonchalantly, he simply gets up and says “It’s nothing,” as if that always happens. That’s a little foreshadowing, of course.

Quite quickly, we learn it’s not just a backache. Deeper into the battle of the bands scene, Eddie falls down again, but this time he won’t just brush off the pain. Instead, he transforms. Dark purple-black bat-like wings sprout from his back, his skin deepens in color, and his eyes turn yellow. Eddie responds as if he’d always kinda wanted wings. “Cool! I’ve got wings! But don’t worry about it darling,” he says again to Ophelia. “I’m still the same me!”

And they say looks are deceiving.

My guess is that Eddie is the reincarnation of one of the Metal Gods brought back to life to save the Land of Metal, and he just doesn’t know it. Just a wild speculation, of course; but after having seen a jillion movies and played a more jillion games, I’m guessing this isn’t his last transformation.

Eddie wields the Separator to cleave his enemies.

Eddie wields the Separator to cleave his enemies.

Staging the Battle of the Bands

Following my earlier preview (on GameDaily), in which I detailed Eddie Riggs’ fighting techniques and the game’s combat moves, this preview explores how Schafer’s latest demo opens up into massive real-time strategy battles.

Once Eddie has freed the head bangers from the mines, and Ophelia has freed all the chicks (you were wondering where, in the Era of Metal, all the chicks were, right?) from the evil Pleasure Tower, he, rebel leader Lars, Ophelia, and Lars’ sister form a big enough resistance to confront Emperor Doviculous in the first of several massive land battles.

They recruit all sorts of strangers, such as Mangus, a stoner stage technician who helps build a heavy metal-themed stage, and form a battle plan. In the giant meadow Eddie sizes up his army of Head Bangers (short-range fighters) and Runaways (long-distance fighter “chicks”), and creates an assortment or weapons to further explore the “metal as power” metaphor. Remember Eddie’s hot rod, the Deuce? Eddie builds a massive hot rod–a tour bus–to help wage his war.

Behold--it's a fan geyser.

Behold--it's a fan geyser.

Then he looks out across the meadow and notices it’s peppered with dried up geysers. I believe that in order to activate these geysers, Eddie must play a guitar solo, which plays like the simplified Guitar Hero mechanic on screen, to summon the power of “the fans.”

The fans, in this case, are a tappable raw power, sort of like ore, wood, or coal in an RTS game. Once summoned, the lifeless meadow’s geysers burst with the ghostly white flow of “the fans.” Without missing a cue, Schafer then points out how building “merch” (merchandizing) booths will keep the fans happy and flowing.

Battle for BladeHenge and the Blowjob Leeches

Once you’ve organized your Headbangers, Runaways, and built your Thunderhogs and Tour Buses, and outrageous stage, summoned “the fans,” sprouted wings and learned to fly, you are ready to fight General LionWhyte and his army of equally bad-ass dudes.

General LionWhyte is the evil...super lame '80s hairband guy. Wait 'til you hear his voice.

General LionWhyte is the evil...super lame '80s hairband guy. Wait 'til you hear his voice.

Eddie and the headbangers cause a ruckus.

Eddie and the headbangers cause a ruckus.

Like it or not in our society, the color black usually represents evil and white stands for good. But that’s not the case in Brutal Legend. Black is the color of metal, after all. So when the evil General LionWhyte shows up to confront the resistance, he isn’t an evil, black, demonic looking dude at all. He’s an ’80s hair-band leader, decked out in white skin-tight leotards with black dots, and has the biggest most heinous hair you’ve ever seen. His hair isn’t just a prop, mind you. His hair is his means of flight. I cannot convey how utterly silly and likable this scene is, but let me just say, his voice and manner equally match the ridiculousness of his hair. His followers, you’ll also notice, are equally flamboyant, a not-so-subtle jab at ’80s hair bands.

When the fight begins, you realize why Eddie’s wings are important. With the ability to fly, he can quickly transport across the battlefield to counter attacks, wipe out losing fights, or take on Doviculous. In conjunction with flight, the first three Dpad commands (left to follow, down to hold, up to attack a specific object) are followed by the fourth one, right, which sets a beacon, calling all forces to swarm to it.

How else can one stop the fans? Fan Leeches, of course.

How else can one stop the fans? Fan Leeches, of course.

You’ll command your forces to various areas on the map, fight enemies with your axe and guitar, fly around and be a bad-ass, and finally, counter Lionwhyte’s overtly, hilariously, hard-to-ignore sex, erm… fan leeches. Yes, it’s hard to turn away from the male-female mechanics here, so let’s just call it what it is: a Blowjob Leech. Remember the flowing fans gushing forth from the geysers? Well, Lionwhyte has a counter enemy, giant flying leeches which look, yes, like giant leeches. These creatures have a massive mouth, wings, and fly vertically. Their only purpose, it seems, is to suck the white flowing fan fluid out of the geysers. And, just like black is not evil in Brutal Legend, it’s your job to prevent these leeches from doing their “jobs.” Otherwise, the fans will dry up!  Dear lord, how much fun is Schafer having with this game?

During the fight, when you’re not busy looking for the flood of metal and sexual metaphors, you’re fighting the good resistance battle. Being your first big battle, you’ll have the ability to direct your army types, or all of them together, call upon Mangus to fuel more merch power or whatever, and use your guitar to pull off crazy magic attacks. Eddie’s solos summon the Face Melter attack, the Make the Sun Rise attack, and the Chains Come Off attack. Each one is summoned with little Guitar Hero-like mini-games (which appear on screen horizontally like a little musical chart). Additionally, you can use your troops to fight in various ways, such as forming a “mosh pit” around you for protection.

This all appears in what looks to be the first hour or two of the game!

I still haven’t played this game yet, so I cannot describe the exact mechanics, but I will say that from what I have seen, my early assumption could be off base. If the game is as much fun to play as it is to watch, Brutal Legend surely will be a fantastic new game in Schafer’s growing repertoire.

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Brutal Legend Preview

The evil mines are guarded by these ham-fisted baddies, who are all bark and no bite.

The evil mines are guarded by these ham-fisted "bouncers," who are all bark and no bite.

I posted a detailed preview of Tim Schafer’s Brutal Legend on GameDaily.com last week…

“Tim Schafer always looks like he’s having fun. At EA’s Spring Break event in early April, the curly-locked and bearded Schafer manned a mic and led a throng of drooling journalists through an eyes-on presentation of his latest creation, Brutal Legend, due on PS3 and Xbox 360 this Roctober. (Sorry, it’s now officially Rocktober, Tim said so.)”

Check out the rest HERE and see the latest trailer.

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