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Brutal Legend

Raising the curtain on the most tenacious action game yet

Two worlds are colliding. Two wayward minds that only want to rock are crashing together to create one of next year's hottest new games. The brain-boxes behind Monkey Island and Tenacious D are hi-fiving, pumping fists and scribbling on bits of paper to conjure up PS3's 'next big thing'.

The creative juices are being supplied by maverick coder Tim Schafer and rock funny man Jack Black. The game is Brutal Legend, an adventure set in the mythical lost era of Heavy Metal. Those two sentences should have put a smile across your face bigger than a Metallica riff. Schafer is best known for his comedy writing on Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle and Grim Fandango, games that are genuinely funny, which is rare. Jack Black is Hollywood's Golden Boy, the man who would be king (of rock) and more importantly, made hair metal cool again. Together, they are creating worlds.

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Actually, Schafer has created the world, Black is on board to supply the rock 'n' roll humour and voice the character of Eddie Riggs, the roadie rock-god. The story is suitably 'out there' as you would expect from Schafer's Double Fine studio, the team's last game was Psychonauts, a platformer that had you swimming around in peoples' minds. In Brutal Legend you'll play Eddie, a run-of-the-mill roadie for some long forgotten metal act still plugging away like it's 1982. Eddie likes booze, women and rock 'n' roll; he's going to be the savior of the universe, but thankfully not ours.

Unwittingly, Eddie gets transported back in time to the mythical Age of Metal courtesy of an unusual horned belt buckle imbued with an ancient curse. The world Schafer has created for his new hero is built from the clichés of rock - there are giant swords protruding from the ground, Iron Maiden Beasts roam the wastelands and everyone rides Harleys and drives hotrods. It's a proper world of rock, expect to see the pillars from Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy album cover, Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell gets a look in and you won't need to go far to see a nod or two to Dio's fantastical landscapes.

This is a world where volcanoes spew hot molten chrome, mountains are made from amps and V8 engines are mined like diamonds. Schafer is keen to point out that rock fans will be able to see all the icons of their beloved music in this world. The game world is immersed in references, be it an actual stairway to heaven or the apocalyptic visions from damp demin stalwarts Manowar, Over Kill and Hammerfall; and all of the other metal greats that illustrated their thunderclap visions with busty women, demonic skulls and chrome war machines. Heavy metal is rife with imagery and in Schafer's hands has inspired a richer game world.

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Multiple personality
Characters are important to Schafer and Brutal Legend is no different. Eddie is a collision of rock greats - the bulk of black rocker Danzig, the attitude of Lemmy and of course the face of Jack Black. The game world is split into similarly referential rock 'types'. There are dozens of tribes in Schafer's Age of Metal universe - punks, Goths and head-bangin' hard rockers. The population of this world have been oppressed, and it's down to Eddie to save them in the only way a roadie knows how - get 'em drunk, get 'em laid and get 'em on stage for the gig of their lives. These tribes need uniting if Eddie is to rule the world and rise to the status of rock-god.

Schafer described a typical mission, in which Eddie rescues the Headbangers from slavery at a Hot Rod mine. These Axel Rose wannbees are mining for chrome parts using their best asset - their heads. They have necks the size of tree trunks and they're banging away at hard rock. Eddie can use them; they can be his private army, if he can free them. Other missions involve confronting the Goth-like Gravediggers, rescuing the mysterious Treeback (a giant with a tree on his back) and fighting The Army of Death (don't fear the reaper!).

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