Monday, August 19, 2013

VGR Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick

Here's the direct sequel to Hail to the King.

The developers decided to ditch the Survival Horror gameplay. Big mistake or brilliant move on their part?

The Evil Dead lurks Withing The Woods, read these reviews and you'll be Dead by Dawn!

VGR: Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick
From VIS Entertainment/THQ
Played on Xbox
Also available on PS2

Type Action adventure/Hack & Slash
Year 2003

"A Fistful of Boomstick" is the second Evil Dead game to come from THQ, which have been given full support of Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert and Bruce Campbell.

This time the game was developed by VIS Entertainment, best known for their game State of Emergency. In fact, A Fistful of Boomstick runs on the same engine actually.

While the previous game was a pure survival horror (with all its shortcomings), this one is closer to an action adventure game. Think Zelda, with an Evil Dead twist.

This time the game takes place on (several) huge map(s), with lots of on-going quests, talking to Non Playable Characters, bringing objects back and forth, several boss fights and alternate worlds to explore.

The story takes place about 11 years after the Evil Dead trilogy and continuing from the past game 3 years since Hail to the King.

We find our hero Ashley Williams in bar in Dearborn, Michigan. Drinking because what choice is there when you spend all your time facing the armies of the dead?

In true Evil Dead fashion, Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick actually ignores details from the previous ending and re-imagines how Ash ended up where he is now.

Ash's previous girlfriend Jenny died in a car accident. (kinda underwhelming, I mean really??). Ash didn't land in the middle of a Dearborn ruled by the Dark Ones. Instead things simply went back to normal. Boring normal.

When suddenly Ash happens to catch journalist Trisha Pettywood and occult author Alex Eldrige investigating the mystery behind Professor Knowby's death on TV.

They happen to read some extracts from the Necromonicon Ex Mortis – the Book of the Dead - so naturally a vortex opens in the middle of town. The undead spill out on the street, the Deadites start possessing people and soon chaos runs amok.

Well, it's not like Ash was planning on staying home tonight.

While Hail to the King was merely an adequate survival horror, Fistful of Boomstick is a lot more interesting and fun than what you would expect.

The game looks and plays like your usual beat 'em all/hack 'n' slash game.

There are literally hordes of Deadites waiting to jump all over you and make Ash join them permanently. And like in "Hail to the King", the enemies appear to respawn constantly so you can never rest in one place for too long.

But A Fistful of Boomstick is actually a bit more complex than your usual generic beat 'em all games.

For one, it is actually more of an action adventure. You can talk to NPC with one button and interact with your surroundings. (and use it as a taunt/one liner button as well)

Ash keeps tracks of the various quests you will obtain through the game in his notebook.

The game starts in a small part of Dearborn before taking you to the much larger main area of town. It's a small open non-linear city, that means a lot of backtracking around.

To face the undead Ash can use two weapons simultaneously. On one hand all the actual weapons you will find such as the boomstick/shotgun, a shovel, guns, dynamite, etc. And on the other the customized weapons you will make through the game/story such as the chainsaw, a custom modified steampunk gatling gun, a leaf blower, etc.

You will collect plenty of items in this game, from health packs, save tokens (easy to find in huge quantities actually), ammo and upgradable parts to silver, spells, and other specific items for the quests.

The main on-going quest is to close all the vortexes all around town. Once that taken care off and after some talks the game will take you then through one of these interdimensional doors...

Familiarized with Dearborn? Good.

Next stop is Dearborn, 1695! Then a little trip in Dearborn, 1863! And finally an Evil version of town, to face the one and only... Deadite Queen! Where did Trisha go?!

The plot is actually very fun, with lots of humor. It's closer to Army of Darkness than, say, Evil Dead 1.

On your way you will find plenty of ravaged streets by the Deadites, explore the same church and places from different eras, even get to talk with a distant relative of yours and cause 2-3 anachronistic occurrences...

The gameplay and combos are all pretty easy to pull of.
You start with a few bullets at the start but it's never that complicated and just requires some attention at the start.
It's simple and fun.
It's a budget game so you can't complain too much, and they did pretty good.

The main gimmick this time comes in the form of a spell casting system. Dead Deadites (...) will either give you items/health or magic points.
Through the course of the game you will gather more and more spell pages. Often required at one point to test them. 
Those powers range from the simple Stun spell, to a "Rain of Fire", possessing all sorts of Deadites (Guardians, dogs, etc.) pr summoning allies.
It's... different. But original too, for Evil Dead at least.

The game is actually quite long, though it gets easier the more spells and weapons you gather.

Once the Story over you can head over some arcade modes for fun.

Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick also features a great voice acting. Alongside a returning Bruce Campbell there are a lot of notable voice actors including Rob Paulsen and Tom Kenny!

The game also has a great music score from Stewart Clark this time. If it's perhaps a bit less epic in proportions than Tommy Tallarico's from the previous game, it has a more pronounced B-movie vibe. It goes from generic cues to actually creepy moments.

Overall, Ash is back, baby!

Our hero returns in a pretty entertaining original game!

Much better than its predecessor, you can now possess enemies, you will face hordes of Deadites on screen and it's such a fun story.

If Hail to the King could be seen as "The Evil Dead" of the Evil Dead gaming franchise - being kind of sloppy but showing sine great potential - this one is definitively the fun, gory "Dead by Dawn" of these THQ games. Much more refined than the first, bloodier and with more charm to its story.

The game also includes some bonus video featurettes from the making of the game (Bruce Campbell interviewed along some of the staff).

I give it:
2 / 3 Quacks!

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