Brutal Legend: Battle of the Bands... With Axes... Real Axes

We already know from Tim Schafer's "subtle" talks on his upcoming rock epic that Brutal Legend will be "drenched in heavy metal goodness."

But until last week we didn't know how heavy metal goodness was going to translate into massive battles. Now we do, and be warned, it includes demon wings.

While what we've seen to date has given us a sense of scale and shown the action, strategy elements of the game, last week Schafer showed off the game's mega Battle of the Bands.

It's in these battles that you will take on at least one of the game's bosses, hair-metal-inspired General LionWhyte.

Schafer kicked off his introduction to the battles with a short cut-scene that introduced a new character: Mangus, a hippy soundman who helps call out the troops once the battle gets underway.

Brutal Legend: Battle of the Bands... With Axes... Real Axes

Before fighting though, Eddie has to find his band some fans. Fortunately, the landscape of Brutal Legend is dotted with fan geysers, a sort of fountain of ethereal fans that need only be tapped to build Eddie's fan base. Fans, Schaefer tells us, are the resource of the game.

To tap the geyser Eddie needs to build a merchandise booth on the geyser before giant winged fan leaches swoop down and suck up some of your fanatical resources.

Brutal Legend: Battle of the Bands... With Axes... Real Axes

Eddie can summon up merch booths, his rad car and even a stage with his guitar. The summoning launches gamers into a mini-game that brings up a line of music on the screen. To play the music, and summon what you're after, you have to tap out the proper notes in time with the music. No, you can't use a Guitar Hero or Rock Band guitar.

Once the merch booths and stage is set up, Eddie can tap into his fan base and, with the help of Mangus, call forth his army of armed fans.

The battle Schafer showed us involved an eclectic mix of fans including female rockers known as Runaways, the big-headed, no-necked Headbangers and chopper riding Thunderhogs. General LionWhyte had the same batch of hangers-on to pick from.

Once the battle kicked off it looked like a pretty open affair, with Eddie running around an expansive battlefield issuing orders and getting his hands dirty and "Separator" bloody. At one point, Schafer showed us that you can create new attacks by working with your fan soldiers, for instance having a Runaway jump onto his shoulders to dish out extra damage.

Brutal Legend: Battle of the Bands... With Axes... Real Axes

Eddie can also set beacons during the battle as sort of rallying points and issue commands to his troops on the fly, Schafer said.

Partway through the battle something happens to Eddie and he ends up sprouting demon wings, really. So expect a bit of air to ground combat as well as the game progresses. Schafer says that the the battle of the bands he showed us was about a third of the way through the game.

I continue to be surprised at just how well heavy metal and game design seem to go hand-in-hand. But maybe that's because both, at their best, are willing to throw the rules out the window to try and create something different and powerful.

Schafer says that he was drawn to this idea because he 's always like the power of heavy metal music and its ability to tell epic stories. In particular he likes the power of the album covers, something he's now working to turn into a living game.

Those covers, he told us, don't worry about what should make sense, just "is it awesome looking and is it cool."

"Can I put a gas mask on a druid," he asked. "Yes."

Brutal Legend: Battle of the Bands... With Axes... Real Axes

Brutal Legend: Battle of the Bands... With Axes... Real Axes

Brutal Legend: Battle of the Bands... With Axes... Real Axes

Brutal Legend: Battle of the Bands... With Axes... Real Axes

Brutal Legend: Battle of the Bands... With Axes... Real Axes

Brutal Legend: Battle of the Bands... With Axes... Real Axes

Brutal Legend: Battle of the Bands... With Axes... Real Axes