Brutal Legend - multiplayer hands-on

In San Francisco last week at the Mighty Club, Tim 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 narrate a demo, and watch the strangest looking RTS the world has ever known.

For those who have somehow missed the onslaught of previews, features, and interviews Schafer has done over the last few months, here's a recap of the single-player game. You're Eddie Riggs, a Jack Black lookalike (voice work done by Jack Black), who is injured during the deconstruction after a concert. The blood from the injury trickles onto your belt buckle, an ancient relic (an amulet for Ormagoden, aka, "The Fire Beast, Cremator of the Sky, and Destroyer of the Ancient World") that magically comes to life, sending Riggs into the age of Metal.

In this dark, cryptic land, an aggregate of the most lavish heavy metal artwork from decades of metal albums, you join a small band of renegades and help lead the charge to unleash the world's inhabitants from the oppressive grip of Lord Doviculus (voiced by Tim Curry). The single-player campaign initiates you to the basic action mechanics, like swinging an axe and playing a guitar to cast spells, learning to command troops, build massive stages, and fly.

The multiplayer game is based on one aspect of the single-player game, big battles. These are full-scale wars that provide a level of depth to the game by putting Eddie in charge of making and directing an army, and then managing said army's troops, building its resources, driving the enemy to its knees, and hearing the lamentations of the women.

In our session, we played the map Bleeding Coast, a simple introductory map shaped like a horseshoe and separated in the middle with a giant mountain. Double Fine also showed off the more "Gothy" map, Doom's Meir. You can play as three factions, Ironheade (Eddie's team), Drowning Doom, and the newly revealed third faction, Tainted Coil. We played as Eddie's team and started on one side of the horseshoe with a fully functioning stage (home base) and fan geysers (resources) on each side.

Like any RTS, Brutal Legend's game necessitates that your home base survives, you collect all the resources you can using the fan geysers, and then build and deploy units as smartly and effectively as possible. By pressing the right shoulder you'll call up of units, starting with Headbangers (close melee) and Razor Girls (long-range). As you win battles you'll gain the ability to upgrade the stage, which unlocks better, more powerful units.