Difficulty: Just Right
Time Spent: 10 Hours or Less
Headline: Thoroughly blemished; however, fun remains at its core.
Back in the 80s and early 90s, Evil Dead was sending out some marvelous horror films with Ash involving Deadites, time travel, and a Book of the Dead; they always led to bad situations. As Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick emerges, Ash gets himself pulled into an eventful night; for $20, is he riding with an action romp, or a busted chainsaw?
A reporter named Trisha uncovers a sacred tape that awakens the Deadites and features it on a radio station (unaware of its dangers). Only a few blocks away, Ash is having some drinks and before you can say it, Ash has a big problem to take care of. You can probably come to your senses about how this story plays out; usual twists, time travel, has some hallmarks of Evil Dead, movie references, and a smart-mouth style of humor. All in all, this very much is a fanlike storyline; luckily, the jokes are funny and the acting is strong.
What are you doing playing that?! It's going to raise the dead.
Ash's means of survival is with his weapons; you are armed with 2 weapons at any time with one weapon for each hand, err… arm in Ash's case. You use them to lay probably thousands of Deadites back in their graves. You have the common shotgun and chainsaw, but there are a lot of other guns to try out and they are nicely balanced with just about every armament having alternate fire. Melee weapons are also well integrated; they don't take a backseat to guns. You can perform combo attacks with them and whaling on enemies with a shovel or outside work-tool has a charm and homage to Evil Dead that is hard to beat. The game uses auto-targeting; this is more necessary than manual aiming given the hordes of Deadites. Enemies re-spawn a lot in the large environments and pure silver can be used to shut down portals that are objective relevant. Though re-spawning enemies may sound like a cheap tactic, they keep environments filled with danger and you'll only find yourself getting attacked by re-spawners if you stand around. You also have the book of the dead; you call upon passages to summon a special ability. The book has way too many passages to be remembered; most involve you taking control of another enemy (it's much better an idea than an effective element) to bypass the 'this monster only' cliché idea. Usually, I'd open the menu and look way in the list to find my spell and then use it; why couldn't the damn thing just inherit the ability to control all monsters you have spells for at that time so I'd only need to know 1 spell?! Puzzles are flat out the worst parts; they don't indicate themselves very well and you have no clues as with how to solve them.
Limbs being detached! Blood all over the place! One liners abound!
The environments are quite large and this is one of those games that really, really needed a map system; the absence of it causes any regular player to become confused. This is especially problematic given how some parts are really difficult to figure out where or what is implied unless you crack open a guide. Some levels also repeat in the game due to the time traveling storyline; it sounds like a lazy gimmick however, it's interesting to see an environment now and then 200 years ago with details around showing off some clever designs. I must admit though, the levels aren't really a whole lot; they only have what's needed (limited design scope). But that's really what the levels are along with the time traveling concept. Bosses are less about laying waste and more a simple concept; they're a simple innovation, but the bosses turn out to be way too easy. Menus are a bit clunky, the game is definitely repetitive, and your always the message boy but I'll disregard that mostly as well as lesser issues due to the low price (keep in mind though, the cheapness is enough to go a little easy on the game all around). Enemies aren't too foolish either; they come in numbers and can catch up on you if you stand around too long. They also know how to duck, and can still come after you if they get sawed in half, but they aren't anything you haven't seen.
The music in Evil Dead often misses its' mark; it's good music but suspense can build up out of the blue. The sound effects are mixed; weapons sound good but everything else doesn't stand out at all. Little works in favor of visuals; although, the last good thing I'd expect out of $20 game is the graphics to be good and this is so. Most of the textures are muddled or ugly; it always has a low polygon count, only quickly done animations, and little weather effects. Ash looks good, along with the weapon effects, and gore; but that's really it.
If you see a novel titled, 'Book of the Dead', just leave it alone.
The value in this game isn't too bad; the game will take 7 to 9 hours, an objective simple arcade mode is included, and there's even some basic extra footage. For just $20, it almost reaches the amount of content a full priced game would have; although the main story is really, really repetitive.
The game may not be a golden recommendation, but Evil Dead never managed to be stopped by its' constraints. It has a budget design written from top to bottom with a pretty sturdy grip on combat and a lot of hit or misses along the way. Luckily combat is 90% of this game and because I still love carving up the undead and listening to Ash's remarks; A Fistful of Boomstick remains fun. Despite the plentiful repetition, the game didn't really feel very much like it dragged itself until the very last hour; it was always interesting enough to see the next level, the next enemy, or the next weapon to keep going to the end. If you want some action and can live with some troubled flaws, it's a Fistful of Fun!
6.5/ 10 FAIR (PS2)
+Good mix of weapons, attacks, and decent enemies
+Ash steels the spotlight
+A good amount of content for only $20
-In dire need of a map system
-Clunky menus and bad puzzles
-Only basic graphics