I hate to say this, but I’ve finally given up on Brutal Legend. I simply don’t have the desire to finish the game.

It’s not that I didn’t want to like it. This was the number one game that I was waiting for after PAX 2009. While other reviewers were disappointed that the game went in the direction of real time strategy, I happen to enjoy real time strategy and was actually looking forward to it.

The problem was not that the game evolved into an RTS; it’s that it evolved into a bad RTS with an unwieldy control scheme. RTS games thrive with a keyboard and mouse, and if the game is managed well, the connection between your brain giving commands and the units obeying them is seamless. When trying to control units with the X-Box controller, however, I found myself constantly frustrated by the lack of precision. This all came to a head when trying to coordinate the rock crusher with my other troops during a late mission. It was just too much.

To be clear, Brutal Legend wasn’t all bad. In fact, about 80% of it was great. The theme was fantastic, and the aesthetic was very pleasing. The environment was true to the metal genre without making a parody of itself. In addition, the voice acting, animation, and broad variety of characters really added to the depth and beauty of the game. The “Never Ending Story meets Spinal Tap” storyline was funny and enjoyable, and the steady progression gave an ever increasing sense of accomplishment.

Given the musical theme and summoning abilities, such as the “call of the wild” spell and the stage production, the game reminded me very much of The Bard’s Tale. In fact, had Tim Schafer ultimately taken the game in the direction of The Bard’s Tale, i.e. light summoning/minion management, heavy personal combat, and lots of humor, I would be writing a very different review.

The RTS elements of the late game shouldn’t have been a show-stopper for me, but they were. For some it wasn’t, and to them I say “good on you.” I just can’t do it.

Brutal Legend will join Final Fantasy 7 and Final Fantasy X as one of the greatest games that I will never finish. I will quietly look forward to Tim Schafer’s next game, and hope he heeds the feedback that we are giving.