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Previews

Brutal Legend

Rock meets RTS in the newly unveiled multiplayer mode...

Tim Schafer's never been one to play by any hard and fast rules. After all, Brütal Legend is a mishmash of several different genres, with the emphasis on what's fun rather than what can be easily classified and pigeonholed.

We probably shouldn't be surprised, then, that multiplayer has been revealed to be a real-time strategy experience - more similar to Halo Wars than the GTA-style open-world rampage many might have been expecting.

Before you start worrying that you'll be mired in dull statistics and barely differentiated flavours of tank until you lose consciousness, this is still Brütal Legend, so it's RTS with some distinctly 'rawk' dressing.

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For a start, in this battle of the bands, you won't be defending a base, you'll be defending your stage. This has a number of neat defensive elements including laser beam spotlights, a mic that repels enemies when screamed into and area effect-damaging dry-ice smoke machines.

Instead of the standard RTS resources your band must accumulate fans, which spring forth from the ground in 'fan geysers'. Tim Schafer's psychiatric bills must be spectacular.

As the player, you can wade in yourself as well. Each band has its own player-controlled figurehead who is the most powerful unit on the battlefield, smashing enemies with an enchanted guitar and conjuring powerful spells to turn the opposing team into jam.

A quick click of the stick, though, and the character sprouts wings, allowing you to oversee the battle from on high and zip around to manage your cohorts in the various corners of the levels. There are also combo attacks, like in the single-player game, that can be performed with your units. Each band has its own distinct attacks.

No doubt the multiplayer mode will divide players. It's certainly more complex than we were expecting, and it's likely that plenty of players who just want to run around and smash things will be put off.

We're looking forward to the fleshing out of the single-player mode's light strategy elements, though, and being able to pile into combat yourself and make the difference in a scuffle should keep things interesting for the less tactical amongst us.

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