Review: Half Deadite, full Deadite, I'm the guy with the gun
Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick was a pleasant surprise at a pleasant price. Twenty bucks got me the now-defunct Vis Entertainment's video game rendition of the newest chapter of the greatest horror series ever and I was more than happy. That small investment proved to be a good one as I am rarely more impressed with a licensed game than I was with Fistful of Boomstick.
But as I said, Vis Entertainment is now a defunct studio, so work on the newest Evil Dead game, Regneration, had to go elsewhere. That elsewhere was to Cranky Pants Games, an internal THQ studio that is probably best known for the GameCube ports of Summoner 2 and Red Faction. Not exactly a storied history of game development, but Cranky Pants has one thing going for it: they're rabid Evil Dead fans.
Of course, what geek doesn't love the sorted tale of Bruce Campbell versus the Deadites brought forth by the Book of the Dead. And with Campbell on board in the dual role of star and Evil Dead consultant, Regeneration hits all the high notes.
Opening in the cabin at the end of Evil Dead II, players will be able to tell the difference between Boomstick and Regeneration right away. While Boomstick threw players in a wide-open world and belched Deadites from the ground to swarm Ash, Regeneration plays it as more or less a straight linear adventure.
Spicing up this linearity is a new locale (the mental institution Ash is committed to after the ?murders? of Evil Dead II), a new villain (the ridiculously over-the-top Dr. Reinhard) and a new sidekick (a half-Deadite midget named Sam). Sam is, of course, named after Evil Dead director Sam Raimi and voiced by a crude and rude Ted Raimi.
While it's set up a little differently, Regeneration plays very similarly to Boomstick. Ash is able to use both his shotgun and chainsaw independent of each other and combining both weapons creates some nifty combos. While you'll still be swarmed by hordes of the undead, Regeneration takes a slightly different approach to the fighting. In Boomstick, the Deadites attacked in packs. But here, they take a more ?action movie? approach to combat. You know, one Deadite will attack while the others stand around looking menacing.
Sadly, the trickshooting is gone in favor of a ?finishing move? button for when you've significantly wailed on a Deadite but they just won't die. Also gone are the magic spells, replaced by a Suffering-like Rage Meter that momentarily turns Ash into Evil Ash. I say Thumbs down to the finishing moves, which are lame pre-scripted animations of a shotgun blasts or chainsaw decapitations. But thumbs up to the Rage Meter, slicing and dicing the undead limb-from-limb is always fun.
However, the major change is that many throughout the game, players will be expected to possess Sam and squeeze his small, smelly Deadite ass into tight spots that Ash can't reach. The scenes have their moments, but Sam has no firepower of his own and is easily killed. A far cry from the supreme badassitude (and arsenal that would make Uncle Sam jealous) of Bruce. Sam also ends up riding a large Deadite like a bull several times through the game and, amazingly, that can
The game is a little on the short side, but it never feels too short. The unlimited ammo highlights the action much better than the desperation I felt searching for ammo for my Boomstick in Boomstick. And the weapon upgrades (a harpoon gun, a rocket launcher, etc, etc) add some decent personality to the fighting.
The Ash model looks great and while the rest of the game isn't rendered as nicely, the graphics are no slouch. They're basically what I'd expect from a twenty dollar budget title based on a B-movie cult classic.
The audio, however, is another story. It's A+ quality and shows just how well Bruce Campbell and Ted Raimi are able to play off of each other as Ash and Sam. The game is just packed with fantastic one-liners and patented Ash-isms. Even Dr. Reinhard pulls off a great evil villain. I guess having Brice Campbell around during the development process makes recreating the Evil Dead feel all that much easier.