Video Game Review of the Week
--Review by KenshiroKing @ 7/8/03 23:59 PST.
Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick
Chances are, if you frequent this site, you may be a dork or perhaps even a geek. As such it is almost required that you have some first-hand knowledge of the Evil Dead series of films, cult classics that they are. I, personally, am a huge fan of the series, so it was with great anticipation that I picked up a copy of THQ's Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick for the Xbox.
Evil Dead is a 3rd person action game much as its horrible predecessor Evil Dead: Hail to The King was. The simple yet strangely adequate plot is as follows: The main character, Ash, voiced by the always entertaining Bruce Campbell, is relaxing in his hometown of Dearborn, Michigan when a scientist on a talkshow releases hordes of the undead known as "Deadites." It is up to our hero to save this moronic scientist and the nublie hostess of the show from certain soul-swallowing by said deadites. Throughout the course of the game Ash time-travels to several different periods in the history of Dearborn. He meets some of his ancestors and does battle with countless Deadites in a bid to save the world from the menace of the living dead.
I fully expected this game to be purely a fanboy's delite and be lacking as far as actual gameplay goes, but I was happily mistaken. Fistful of Boomstick played very solidly with well designed controls and a no-nonsense combat system. Much of the game is spent fighting the deadites using the weapons at Ash's disposal. This, of course, includes the infamous shotgun and chainsaw-for-a-hand that are Ash's primary means of attack, but by no means is limited to these. Ash can equip two weapons at a time, one left and one right. The right is his stump where he can attatch the chainsaw, a flamethrower and even a minigun. In his good left hand, he can use all manners of weapons including an axe, a pistol and explosives. Changing weapons is simply a manner of a few button pressess and never slows down the game enough that you even notice.
There were a couple of spots during the game where I found myself wandering aimlessly through town trying to figure out what to do next. I would like to blame this on poor programming in the form of inadequate goal explanation on the part of the programmers, but for all I know, this may have just been me being a moron. Several times I would spend an hour running in circles only to find an item or doorway that I previously had not noticed. I did not mind particularly simply because too many games just guide you along a predetermined path and never offer you a chance to stop and look around.
Speaking of looking around, the graphical quality of Fistful was wonderful. Everything was crisp and defined. The particle effects of the gushing blood were a particular favorite of mine. The only snag in this department was the unfortunate tendancy of a black vertical line to appear down the middle of the NPC's facing during cut scenes; chalk one up to inadequate beta testing.
All in all, Evil Dead: Fistful of Boomstick was pretty badass. Even if you have no clue what the Evil Dead franchise is, Fistful makes a pretty good entry point to the series. THQ did an excellent job of saving what could have been a potentially terrible series of video games by producing a damn solid game. Hats off, boys.