Evil Dead: A Fistful Of Boomstick
Let the one-liners commence. Cult horror-movie favorite Ash is giving this whole videogame thing another shot after the criminally disappointing survival horror-style Evil Dead: Hail to the King (PS1, DC). A Fistful of Boomstick isn't a sequel, but an entirely new action game based on the signature Evil Dead formula of chain saw-wielding wiseass meets shambling zombie horde. Bruce Campbell voices Ash with predictable aplomb, thank goodness, with VIS (State of Emergency, Earthworm Jim 3d) handling development duties.
In fact, Evil Dead is based on State of Emergency's basic game engine, which means it should be able to handle dozens of bloodthirsty zombies all moaning and limping onscreen at once. We just hope the mission objectives are a little more interesting than SOFs. Combat certainly will be, as Ash can wield two weapons at a time. And thanks to the magic of target autolocking, he'll be able to take out a zombie with a no-look, over-the-shoulder shotgun blast while chasing down another foe for some impromptu chainsaw surgery, delivering rapid-fire catch phrases all the while. Hail to the king, ba--hold up, maybe we should wait for the review....
Download Evil Dead: A Fistful Of Boomstick
Playing Boomstick is more excruciating than having your sphincter sewn shut and being force-fed prunes. Honestly, I would’ve paid to not play this game. Counterintuitive puzzles eke several hours out of a single level but fail to create even the illusion of progress. What seemed to be part of a solution always begets another puzzle in infinite regress until nothing short of a phone call to the game’s producer for help can end your agony (which, I kid you not, is what I resorted to). When it comes to venting steam on the decomposing Dearborn townsfolk, you’d assume a sawed-off shotgun, diamondtoothed chainsaw, and Bruce Campbell’s canned one-liners would suffice. Instead, you’re repeatedly blindsided and slain by countless cheap shots. And if you didn’t tap one of your limited save tokens, it’s back to square trickin’ one. Pointlessly retracing steps of ill-conceived puzzles and memorizing cut-scenes I couldn’t skip only multiplied my misery. Pay someone who hates you 20 bucks to hide your car keys instead.
This sugar, baby, tastes oddly like Gym Sock Surprise-and we ate it so you don’t have to. Hero Ash, normally a kick-ass brawler, has been turned into a mere errand boy in the frustrating Boomstick. He has to perform numerous dull fetch quests, but since none of the game’s environments has a map, you’ll have no solid idea where to go. Ammo and health packs are limited, too, ensuring Ash is only suited for either running away or dying. Ouch. Hail to the sting.
I don’t expect a high degree of believability from my Evil Dead games, but when a zombified saber-toothed tiger gives up shotgun shells when killed, well, the impulse to set the controller down and walk away is irresistible. Shawn and Greg outlined the game’s major faults-but I’d like to heap a little more scorn on the combat system. Who needs combos or special moves? Not us, apparently. It’s more fun to run away, attack briefly, and then run again. Not even Ash’s signature double entendres can save this thing.
Ash is back, and this time, Dearborn, MI will never be the same. Our hero, star of a series of fine B grade films, and the one man that can send Deadites back to the beyond while spitting out cool one liners, Ash himself, is back in all of his chainsaw-riffic glory. Set after the events in Evil Dead: Hail to the King, this is a third person perspective action game, which gives you one hour's long excuse to wipe the floor with zombies, and do so in style. In the same vein as Hunter: The Reckoning, but with sadly only single player goodness, Ash totes around a variety of weapons, seeking to eradicate the Deadite threat.
Opening in Dearborn, MI, with Ash ruminating over his recent adventures to a friendly bartender, a group of unwitting fools play a recording of the Necronomicon Ex Mortis over a live TV broadcast. For those of you that've seen the films, you'll know that this means bad, and big bad at that. With that little event, we've now got justification for a whole game worth of slaying. Oh, there's a plot, but don't worry about it too much. You're here to see Ash kick ass and quip one liners. Trust me on this.
On to the gameplay. You control your character from the 3rd person, and use a variety of weapons to get your job done. In the beginning, Ash will only get the boomstick and his trusty chainsaw, but soon you'll find better weapons. A simple melee system lets you dish out damage to the undead like there's no tomorrow, going even so far as to impale the Deadites on the end of your chainsaw in a rippingly gory attack. With pages from the Necronomicon, Ash can even cast spells to shoot forth lightning, or give himself extra strength with which to kill.
Visually, there ain't much to look at here. The streets are small, not extremely well detailed, and I kept getting the feeling that the buildings were all disproportionate, not to mention crammed together tighter than sardines. On the aural level, this game is excellent if only for the fact that Bruce Campbell, the Man with the Golden Chin himself, voices his character Ash.
To beat even that, your character is even designed to kick ass like the main man himself, rapid firing a shotgun, even slinging it over his shoulder when you're attacking someone behind you. Cast a spell incorrectly, and you'll hear Ash screw up in traditional Ash style, just before getting knocked on his hiney by a bit of lightning. All in all, this game kicks major ass.
Be warned, though, as this is a budget title, and it shows. Aside from the nod to Evil Dead fans, this game lacks serious polish. Additionally, it can get somewhat frustrating, as each level is a maze of streets and buildings, all of which must be navigated to find the items and people needed to complete your quest. With little in the way of helpful hints, much of this results in tedious exploration, or revisiting the same places you've been before, to much chagrin.
Now, you might've already rented this, and wondered why I'm being so ecstatic in describing this game, and I've got a simple answer. First, I'm a huge fan of the Evil Dead series. Second, this is only a $20 game, so I'm perfectly happy seeing a game that's got repetitive gameplay and slightly off visuals, especially when the game designers went out of their way to make Evil Dead fans happy. 'Nuf said, play on.