Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick is the latest game to hit the shelves from Scottish game developer VIS. Their last big release was State of Emergency and Evil Dead is based on the same game engine - an engine which was good for fast frenetic action and not much else. Instead of following any of the movie plots they have put together an original storyline which naturally features Ash, with the voice of Bruce Campbell.
The game has been released on PS2 and Xbox at a reduced price of £20 in the UK and you can get a bundled pack with the movie too (Evil Dead 2) for £30. The game is a much more attractive prospect at that price. The action is third-person with the player controlling the wisecracking Ash. There is some basic puzzle-solving, a range of mini-games and a magic system but the SOE engine limits your objectives to: "go and kill something" or "go and find something". Unfortunately it never really gets any more complicated than that.
Ash himself looks good, a reasonably easy to master control system allows you to perform a variety of attacking combos, my personal favourite is impaling a deadite on the end of the chainsaw and then firing him off with the shotgun. The best thing about Ash in the game, for fans of the films, is all the voiceover stuff Bruce Campbell has done. All the old favourite one-liners and a few new ones really add to the comedy and remind you of the license.
Game-play leaves a bit to be desired and this is partly due to the basic limitations of the AI - they just aren´t very smart. Best results are usually gained from running away to create a bit of a gap between you and the enemy and then turning and firing to kill them. Progress isn´t helped any further by the "puzzles" which you have to solve, they don´t make any logical sense and there isn´t too much in the way of help.
The game is very short, six levels with three run of the mill boss games. That may sound fairly standard but the levels are very small and because the action is set around a time travelling Ash in Dearborn the map doesn't change all that much from level to level. Actually the map doesn´t change at all because you aren´t given one, the levels are so small that you don´t really need it after a while, but at the start you expect it to be there.
There is also an arcade mode featuring a range of mini-games. This was a nice idea but none of the games has been very well thought out and they aren´t much fun to play. The opportunity to have a survival mode was missed and I think that would have been a great idea, especially when you have weapons like the mini-gun which can chew through loads of deadites.
Anyone who is a fan of the Evil Dead franchise should consider buying this. Despite the poor AI, confusing puzzles and miniature nature it is still miles better than the last attempt to bring Ash to gaming (Evil Dead Hail to the King) which really was painfully bad. If you fancy wading through a team of zombies accompanied by the wit of Bruce Campbell then you might just enjoy this and at £30 for the game and Evil Dead 2 on DVD it won´t break the bank.