STAFF REVIEW of Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick (Xbox)

Wednesday, July 9, 2003.
by Queasy Buddy

Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick Box art Now let?s get right into business?. Evil Dead: fistful of Boomstick isn't what I'd call a particularly good game...but it's not particularly bad either. In fact, I'd say I had a lot more fun with it than I expected.

Because of the reviews other sources gave this game I really thought it was gonna be one of ?those? games. One of the main reason I think this game disserves a mediocre score is largely due to the influence of Bruce Campbell with this particular title. He recorded all the voice work for Ash, and there's a whole hell of a lot. His wisecracking breaks up what could have been some pretty serious monotony (you can even make him toss out one-liners by tapping the Y button), and there are a few cut-scenes that are laugh-out-loud funny.

The other big thing Boomstick has going for it is a sensible targeting system. There are plenty of times when you'll find yourself surrounded by enemies, and being able to auto-target and fire from any position not only helps with the gameplay, it also makes for some pretty kick-ass effects. If an enemy shows up behind Ash, he'll just flip his shotgun over his shoulder and fire without even looking. Even better, equip a repeating shotgun with explosive shells, walk into a group of Deadites, hold down the Target and Fire buttons, and watch the blood fly. Oh?. priceless.

So why do I give it a mediocre score? Well, the graphics are awfully poor in details...and the camera sucks...and the level design makes no sense whatsoever...and the enemies respond after a shockingly long time. Plus, in spite of the fact that Ash has a weapon in each hand, he can barely pull of combos where you use both of them simultaneously! To me, that's a monstrous oversight. Also the puzzles in this game are awful; in some cases I spent way too much of my precious time figuring out how to get past very simple minded puzzles, but because of the level design those simple puzzles became some pretty treacherous tasks.

Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick is a third-person action shooter that doesn?t get frilly with RPG elements, vehicular or first-person modes, or multiplayer modes. It?s a simple slice ?em-up and shoot ?em-up full of action and excessive violence. In the game, gamers play as the sarcastic Ash, voiced by film counterpart and cult icon Bruce Campbell, as he hunts down the Necronomicon, a book with the power to raise the dead and teleport between times and dimensions. A local television station accidentally broadcasts the dead-raising incantations all over Dearborn, unleashing the power of the Deadites all over town. Ash?s primary weapon is his chainsaw that fits perfectly on his right stump in the absence of his hand. With his left hand, Ash can wield a shotgun (his boomstick), a shovel, a flamethrower, the powerful gatling gun, and other weapons to dispense the onslaught of Deadites.

The game begins with a lengthy, pointless cinematic sequence that introduces us to Ash, the swaggering, one-liner spouting anti-hero of the "Evil Dead" movies. Once again, he's out to stop the zombies from taking over the world. We then move on to a deathly boring opening level where Ash talks to boring people and has to complete boring tasks. Did I mention that it's boring? So boring, in fact, that it's hard to play long enough to get to some of the game's more interesting elements, like the selection of different weapons or the ability to cast a few spells. Even if you're able to stick it out, the lame roadblocks (both literal and figurative) thrown at you prevent the action from ever really heating up. This game has more locked doors and deserted streets than a suburban gated community. You're telling me that a bad-ass like Ash, a guy with a chainsaw for a hand for god sakes, can't get past a simple locked door? As I mentioned, all you need to do in this game is get to a locked door, kill some zombies, get the key off their dead bodies, and get through the locked door. This formula is so repetitive in this game that it literally exhaust?s any player in and about the very presence of this game, and trust me it becomes very frustrating, because you are given an extreme lack of clues, and no mapping system what so ever. The game is fun when you're able to just run around, sawing, and shooting through Deadites. Simplistic and monotonous?. yes, but fun. As I mentioned before, the targeting system is the one big highlight, it lets you target enemies all around you, and even shoot over your shoulder.

"Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick" is reasonably good-looking, with some attractive lighting effects and extra touches like leaves blowing in the wind. The game uses the "State of Emergency" engine, so the action is smooth but at the expense of detail. The color-scheme, if you can call it that, is somewhere between muddy gray and grayish mud. The town of Dearborn isn?t incredibly detailed, and many of the buildings repeat. Normally something like that can be overlooked, but when running back and forth through an undetailed town with repeating buildings, even the most spatially gifted, will feel lost. The characters move well, but aren?t very well modeled. Ash himself doesn?t look much more human than the Deadites, and the in-game resemblance to Bruce Campbell is slim at best. The gore is moderately detailed, but gamers will still squeal with joy after lopping off an arm, bisecting a torso, and spilling blood. The cinematic cut-scenes of the game are top-notch (if you can ignore some mediocre lip synching). Ash looks very much like the Ash of the movies, and they prove themselves to be entertaining and well presented.

Bruce Campbell voices Ash's dialog, which should please fans of the movies, but his deadpan delivery might come across as bad acting to those not familiar with the distinct style of his character. And they certainly must have spent a lot of their ?mullah? to get Bruce on board, because the other voices are simply bad. The one thing that makes the sound mediocre is all thanks to Ash?s one-liners more than anything else. Fans of the movies will take some pleasure in hearing Ash dish out, ?How?s that hole in your head?? and other equally silly insults. The music is very fitting but isn?t exactly something you?d want to listen to on your Discman. Other than that, the sound effects are well in one word ?poor?.

"Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick" might be worth the price for fans of the movies. But it also has the misfortune of being released in the same era as ?Hunter the Reckoning? a much better blood-and-guts undead shooter.

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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