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Evil Dead: Hail To The King
Score: 84%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Heavy Iron Studios
Media: CD/2
Players: 1
Genre: Survival Horror

Graphics & Sound:
The graphics in Evil Dead: Hail To The King are pretty good and remind me a lot of Resident Evil and the like (as does most everything in this game, but more on that later). The prerendered backgrounds are nice and have a few interesting touches such as the use of shadows in the woods and in the cabin. Some of the areas actually turned my stomach they were so disgusting, (I am thinking of the Hellbilly House here). So nasty I could almost smell that place. Very cool!

Now onto the sound effects and such. The voice acting was great. Of course, Bruce Campbell does the voice of Ash and what can I say. Bruce is the man. Do yourself a favor and let the game sit on the intro screen for a few minutes just to hear him say 'Push the friggin start button, would ya?' It's classic. In fact, there is a 'one-liner' button to push whenever you feel like taunting the enemy and some of those are pretty damn funny too. The rest of the voice acting is top notch as well. No one seems overdone, well, other than what was intended. We are talking about Evil Dead here. It's cheesy and it's terrific. Sound effects were pretty decent as well, with the exception of the deeply disturbing possessed pigs and the very odd 'familiars' on the second disk that sound like retarded dogs. Overall, good job.

Do you like Resident Evil? Yes? What about Silent Hill and Countdown Vampires? Yeah, me too. Go out and buy this game and you will be happy. Now with that out of the way, let me explain to you why you'll need to stick it out in the beginning and not throw your controller through your TV set.

The beginning of this game is very hard and frustrating. Not immediately, but once you exit the cabin. After a nice long cutscene that sort of runs down what you have missed if you haven't seen any of the movies (as the game picks up after them), you begin your journey in Dr. Knowby's cabin. Basically, your girl just got kidnapped by Bad Ash and you have to save her. You also have to collect the pages of the Necronomicon (Book of the Dead, anyone?) that have been scattered throughout the different levels of the game. The thing is, this evil book is what allows the evil to haunt Ash and he needs the pages to stop the evil... or something evil like that. Anyway, along the way, you'll meet up with various 'deadites' and you'll have to either kill them or run away. Here's where the tough stuff starts. The first deadites you are introduced to are the legless, floating ones. They suck. They gang up on you and regenerate and take many hits to kill, so I suggest running away if you can and especially if there are more than 1. The thing is, you have your trusty chainsaw (with limited supplies of gasoline to power it) and you also have an axe and Knowby's pistol to start with. Further into the game, you'll pick up your good ol' boomstick and a rifle and upgrade parts to make these weapons even more deadly. When you kill an enemy, you can either hack away or shoot him or you can run him through with your chainsaw, use a one-liner and use the axe in a finishing move. When you do this, he usually leaves behind a large healthpack instead of a small one or nothing, so when you can, use the finishing move.

One problem was that sometimes I found that it wasn't altogether clear where I needed to go. The levels are large and interconnect and you can go back and forth between the many branching paths, so at times it was confusing. Also, it seemed that healthpacks were few and far between early on in the game, leading to lots of death. Once again, stick it out because it gets better. There are mushrooms growing in parts of the game and these can be changed to health or fuel with your converter once you get the needed reading materials, so that helps a lot.

But is it fun? A resounding Hell Yes. Anyone who digs fetch quests, wacky puzzles and killing sprees will find a good time here and the cheesy sarcasm of the whole Evil Dead theme makes it that much better. Evil Dead: Hail To The King is a 2 CD game, so there is gobs of gameplay here. I played it through to the end and was sad that I had finished it because I just had so much fun with it. That's not to say that it doesn't have it's issues, however, and I will cover these in Difficulty and Game Mechanics, but it's still good stuff.

Ok, the difficulty is not adjustable, so it is what it is. As I said, the beginning of the game is hard and very frustrating. Stick it out and things improve once you get away from the cabin. Healthpacks are scarce in the early stages of the game and you will die before you can make it to a save point. A lot. But things do get better. I will say this. There was a boss in this game that I simply could not defeat without using a cheat code (hangs head in shame). It is the only time I used a cheat code for this game, but I tried everything in the book and just couldn't defeat this boss as I used up all my health and ammo quickly and she kills you in 3 stabs of the (very powerful) knife. I won't say who the boss is because I don't want to ruin the plot, but when you get to her, you will know. She is a freak! The rest of the game is not so impossible, however.

That being said, the other major problem with Evil Dead: Hail To The King is the control. It is horrible. Ash will get hung up on invisible things and won't be able to turn around, all the while you are being hacked to bits by deadites. This sucks and makes things far more difficult than they have to be. In my book, that is shoddy gamemaking. Truly, this game would have scored far higher were it not for this blaring problem. More on that next...

Game Mechanics:
Hmm, just how does Evil Dead control? Very similar to other survival horror games like RE. Bad. As a big fan of this type of game, I don't mind bad control. It's almost part of the charm of the game. Almost. But Evil Dead went way past standard survival horror bad control in that Ash would get caught on invisible stuff all the time. If he was running away, he would get stuck on 'nothing' and the enemy would tear him up. Ugh. This created incredible frustration.

On the upside, the menus for the inventory and such were very easy to use and very familiar looking. (Cough. Resident Evil. Cough.) I liked the fact that you could upgrade your weapons and when you get your new buzz saw upgrade, woohoo! Also, with your handy dandy converter thingie, you can change some of the weird things you find into fuel and bombs and stuff like that. I liked this feature and thought it was cool and innovative.

Basically, this is a really fun game full of humour and if you are a fan of the genre and don't mind being really frustrated in the beginning, and you don't mind wonky control, get this game. I love this game, in spite of its issues. Without those awful problems, it would have scored much, much higher. If you aren't scared by a healthy challenge, go out and buy it NOW. And if you aren't a fan of Evil Dead now, you will be by the end of the game. If you are a fan of Evil Dead, what are you waiting on? This game is for you more than anyone else, because it's full of inside Evil Dead puns. Your collection just won't be complete without it.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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