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Brutal Legend - multiplayer hands-on

The first act of strategy is to take over the lone, neutral fan geyser at the center of the map. Double Fine placed the geyser there as a logical means of instantly engaging players; after all, by owning it you'll gain units and upgrade your stage faster than the opponent. Many of the maps have more than one neutral fan geyser for players to fight over.

Using the D-pad, you can command your units to charge, follow, move, and defend an area. While in a battle, you can jump into the middle of five headbangers and press defend. They'll form a circle around you to stave off enemies. Riggs also has individual and team spells he can cast using his Flying V guitar, "Clementine." To convert the neutral fan geyser, you'll call up "fan tribute," which introduces a small musical scale interface over the battle. By successfully following a Guitar Hero/Rock Band series of note/buttons, you can call up all sorts of spells, from Battlecry to Bring It On Home, an ode to Jimmy Page's '70s band, which sends a flaming zeppelin onto the enemy.

But it's the enemy stage you're ultimately after. Following the successful defense of an enemy charge - thanks to a guitar spell that increased my team's attack points - I upgraded my stage to level four and called up the biggest, baddest vehicle I could - the Rock Crusher. This diabolical monstrosity mashes together a Hot Wheels '50s-style hot rod with a spike-axel lawnmower for front wheels. (The Drowning Doom's equivalent of the Rock Crusher is called the "Hate Cage"). Double Fine created the ability to team up with any of your units to increase attacks, and so I jumped onto the Rock Crusher by pressing Y on Xbox 360 (triangle on PS3). By doing so I was able to call up a spell unique to that vehicle that sends down a massive burning sword onto the enemy, causing immense amounts of damage. I drove over a few enemies toward their stage, and sent four of these burning swords onto it, destroying the stage and ending the session.

The multiplayer game enables up to eight players online across seven total maps, and you can play unranked or ranked matches. Look for Brutal Legend to ship October 13.

Aug 13, 2008