Review by Tom Clark
"[Insert witty and engaging tagline here]"
Ah Tomb Raider, where would we be without you.... So many games today owe a great deal to the large-breasted one. Or, to put it another way, there are bucket loads of TR clones around. MediEvil, in a move that makes the preceding sentences relevant, is one of these games. Hurrah!
MediEvil focuses on the exploits of Sir Daniel Fortesque, as he battles the downright evil wizard Zarok. The only problem facing out plucky hero is the (admittedly large) hurdle of his untimely death years earlier. Bummer. You see, long before the game begins, Foresque was the leader of an army that went on to defeat Zarok. Fortesque was intensely incompetent, and lay slain by a rogue arrow seconds into the battle, although he went down in history as being instrumental in Zarok's defeat. So when, through nefarious skullduggery no doubt, Zarok casts a spell to raise a horde of zombies, Dan too is brought back to once more face his old adversary, and this time finish him off once and for all, and in doing so finally living up to his false reputation and being allowed to take his place in the Hall Of Heroes - the final resting place of the great warriors of history.
All told, the plot is refreshingly humourous, which is portrayed in both the graphical stylings (Dan has lost his jaw over the years as he lay in his crypt) to the voice-overs - Zarok particulalarly hams it up as if he were playing the villain in a third rate pantomime, while due to his decayed state, Dan's voice-over is nothing but a mumble (which all other characters can understand). Stylistically this game doesn't take itself very seriously at all, and this is a good thing, as it raises the game above many of the other Lara-a-likes available.
But despite being a good Tomb Raider clone, this is still a Tomb Raider clone. From the camera perspective to the controls, if you've ever played Tomb Raider, you will feel right at home here. Although unlike Lara, water kills Dan on contact, Lara can't pluck her arm out to use as a club against enemies if no other weaponry is available. So... so... so there! There are, however, a few neat touches in the game. Hidden (or not so hidden) in each level is the Chalice Of Souls. As Dan kills the zombies, their souls are returned to the chalice. If Dan collects enough souls to fill the chalice, and then finds the chalice, he can deliver the souls back to their resting place at the end of each stage, and pay a visit to the Hall of Heroes, where he will be rewarded by special items, such as improved weapons. This serves to encourage players to enter more battles, and to explore areas more thoroughly, and is reminiscent of leveling up in RPGs. This gives MediEvil a little more depth, and is very welcome indeed.
Graphically this game is really quite atmospheric. While the zombies are very brightly coloured, suiting the comic book-like plot, some level designs (such as the spooky Cornfield stage) are quite dark and moody. The animation for incidental characters moves fluidly (Dan's movements are a little jerky, although I assume this to be deliberate - it is in keeping with the character), and the music is quite dark and daunting too. As mentioned, the voice-overs fit in well with the comic nature of the game, and are nicely juxtaposed with the music, which highlights the more horrific nature of the plot. All in all, the presentation in this game is first rate.
However, the bottom line is that this game is little more than Tomb Raider With Zombies (or Resident Evil With Tomb Raidery Bits). The levels are vast and numerous, there is a fiendish difficulty curve, and you'll enjoy playing it, making it well worth paying for, but it really isn't very original. In years to come Tomb Raider and Resident Evil will still be remembered. MediEvil will not.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 10/27/01, Updated 10/27/01
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