Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick
Game Info
Platform(s)
PS2, GC, Xbox
Publisher
THQ
Developer
Vis Entertainment
Genre
Action
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence, Blood and Gore
 
Grade
The Good

• Fun hack-and-slash
• Bruce Campbell at his finest
• Arcade levels to unlock

The Bad

• Weak graphic engine
• Item fetching
• Needs a map feature

 
Grade
C

The Evil Dead series of films have a cult following that few B-movie series can enjoy. Unfortunately, they have had to live with Hail to the King, a lackluster game that came out for the Playstation, Dreamcast and PC, as their only videogame outlet. Once Vis (State of Emergency) got the rights to make a new game, many wondered if it would be adequate, or at least better than the last effort. In A Fistful of Boomstick, the story picks up events after the original movies. Ash finds himself in a bar in Dearborn when some plays an audiotape of the reading from the Necronomicon (heard in Evil Dead 2) on a television show. Of course, this unleashes the deadites on the town and Ash must play the hero once again. If you're expecting too grand of a story, then you have never seen an Evil Dead movie.

Built largely on the engine used in State of Emergency, the core gameplay behind Evil Dead: AFOB is hack-and-slash with some item fetching missions thrown in for purpose. With the default settings, you control Ash with the analog sticks - the left one for movement and the right one for the camera. The L1 button targets enemies and the R1 button is used for spells. The L2 and R2 buttons are used to call up a weapons menu where you can switch out equipped weapons. Both the X and Square Buttons perform attacks with Ash's separate hands, be it using the chainsaw or whatever equipped weapon he may have available. The Triangle Button allows Ash to talk to people or interact with objects to get clues, while the Circle Button blocks.

As the action gets underway, you'll find yourself roaming about town, performing a variety of "find this item" retrieval tasks to push the game along. Most of the time, you need to find a key or some other item for another NPC. To close the portals around town, you'll have to save some biker NPCs and take the silver they've stolen to use in closing the portals. All the while, you'll be faced with legions of undead to slash, shoot or dispose of in any manner possible. From time to time, they'll drop health packs or ammo and once you've got spells to cast, you can absorb magical energy from the fallen to recharge your gauge. The spell aspect of the game is a nice addition, in which you'll need to hold down the R1 button and input a button code to cast a certain spell. Often, new spells are necessary in completing objectives, like extra strength to knock down a gate or the ability to control a deadite to recover an item without harm to yourself.

While you could run around town hacking at everything in sight, you'll quickly discover at least a certain degree of strategy is needed. The chainsaw is fun and effective when dealing with a few enemies, but once you start to get swarmed, using the shotgun can be a life saver. But since you run the chance of running low on ammo, you can't go shooting everything. It seems that every weapon seems to have their usefulness. The handgun may cause less damage than the shotgun, but it does have the random ability to decapitate enemies with a single shot. Since ammo and health comes at a premium, never so unavailable as to make the game overly difficult, you may find yourself hunting for freebies littered around the large levels.

To go with the main story mode of the game is an arcade mode, which unlocks more levels the further along you get in the story mode. Each stage sets you to slaughtering your enemies in a small location with limited weapons and health. Your score is determined on performance both time and efficiency-wise. What the arcade levels really boil down to, though, is dropping the story and item fetching aspects of the main game to just give you the best part of the game in small doses.

Along with the basic core of the game, one of the strengths of Evil Dead: AFOB is the fan service. The game is littered with lots of stuff that fans of the movies will enjoy. When you mess up on punching in a spell combo, Ash will misread the spell and get zapped. Bruce Campbell is as sharp as ever with his one liners and the story is perfectly appropriate for the series.

Visually, though, the game is lackluster. While each level is large and sports a ton of on-screen characters at any given time, the world that the engine is built from is drab, boring and underdetailed. Every aspect, except the Ash character model, looks underdetailed and clunky. Generic building fronts are occasionally repeated, which can lead to confusion when trying to find your way around. The limited NPC models are repeated way too often (all the bikers are the same model) and you'll find not too much of the environment can be interacted with. Yes, you can blow up a car or two or shoot out the windows or some stores, but since you can't enter most places, you're just wasting precious ammo. Throw in the fact that there aren't any really good visual or lighting effects in play and you'll have a visual experience that's only rudimentary at best.

Audiowise, the game is rather hit or miss. Sound effects are okay, but find themselves repeated way too often. Musically, the game lacks variety and the same pieces are looped ad infinitum to the point of wearing excessively thin. Also, most of the voice cast is passable. Luckily, Bruce Campbell comes to save the day when it comes to the voiceovers as he delivers his trademark swagger and wit. If for anything, you'll keep playing the game just to hear what he has to say next.

If you can look past the fetch-quest mission aspects that make most of the levels overlong and require excessive backtracking, a lot of the action is fun, to a degree. Unfortunately, the lack of a map feature of any kind leaves you running around large areas looking for your next key, NPC or whatever, which just can waste your time and ammo. Throw in an in-game camera that requires some effort to maintain and you may find the game more frustrating than fun. While you can use the L1 target feature to keep the camera steady, it does leave you open to disorienting attacks when mauled on all sides. Maybe if given the option to pull the camera back some, this would not be such an issue, but as it is, don't be too surprised when an enemy whack you from behind with little to no warning.

For the cheap price, I'd suggest any Evil Dead fans just go ahead and pick this title up. It's just fun enough to look past the mediocre graphics and iffy mission structure. For those not as interested in Bruce Campbell's wit, give it a rent or just pass it all together.

- - Kinderfeld

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