Thrashing, mad, metal: the art of Double Fine's Brütal Legend

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Though it's nearly impossible to find a tidy way to sum the work of LucasArts adventure vet and Double Fine head Tim Schafer -- with a catalog that ranges from de los Muertos noir to deep-psyche introspec-/explora-tion and now to a heavy metal heaven/hell (depending on your attitudes toward the genre's aesthetic) -- one undeniable trait rings consistently true through all.

Schafer and his stellar team of artists and writers know character, and put character above all, a philosophy that lets players navigate some of gaming's most preposterous landscapes and peculiar conceits always feeling entirely grounded by the essential humanity around them.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the ancient Rock realm to which you travel in Brütal Legend: an epically monumental world inspired by the stormily apocalyptic vistas of classic metal album covers, now fully explorable and brought fantastically to life by the Bay Area studio.

And so, following the short trailer below that gives you a taste of how Legends's world would eventually form: a look at the original conceptual design behind those vistas, and especially the characters that inhabit them -- every bit as instantly recognizable (in their leather and spikes, worn-through denim and low-top All Stars) as they are awesomely ridiculous -- from Double Fine artists Scott C, Peter Chan, Nathan Stapley, Levi Ryken, Razmig Mavlian, and Mark Hamer.

The characters:

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The vehicles:

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The environments:

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And finally, how it all comes together:

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