Review by Gruel
"Ash is the meaning of true evil......indeed?"
The Evil Dead games are a lot like the films they are based off of. They are awesomely bad. It seems like they intentionally try to throw in some repetitive gameplay mechanics and wonky cameras, but still remain a somewhat-decent experience in the end. The latest entry in the franchise, Evil Dead: Regeneration, throws in some new gameplay mechanics that achieve some degree of success, although there are still some things that get in the way from making it become a standout third person action game.
Regeneration starts off with our loyal Ash locked up at the Sunny Meadows insane asylum. It is just another day as a nut-job when suddenly an experiment goes wrong by a doctor who messed around with the dreaded Necronimcon spell book a bit too much and starts turning all the patients into zombies. Before you know it Ash has his trusty Boomstick and chainsaw in hand (no pun intended), and he is off for another round against the Deadites.
Things aren't as similar this time around, as you will not be hacking away at the Deadites by yourself anymore. Early on in the adventure a half human/half Deadite named Sam joins your side as Ash's sidekick. Since he is half and half, Sam is immortal and will keep respawning whenever he dies. Sam is a shorter, more annoying little grunt that likes to ramble on about all kinds of things and grow on Ash's nerve, but he does eventually prove useful. He is a great aid during battle as Sam can punt him into Deadites and he'll rip their heads off. He is also used a lot to solve puzzles by having him crawl through little tunnels to open up gates and pull levers to access otherwise hidden parts of stages.
This change of pace is certainly a breath of fresh air from previously just aimlessly hacking away at Deadites for hours on end. However, with the good comes the bad. There are times where puzzles or obstacles seemed tacked on and eventually knocking these things out with Sam seemed like more of a chore than anything. It also grows more frustrating than challenging when Ash is forced to protect Sam on several fetch quests throughout Regeneration.
There are still some other things still that hamper the gameplay experience as well. The sometimes-controllable camera can be a royal pain as it'll completely block my focus of where I want to land my attacks at times. The problematic targeting system doesn't help matters either. R1 locks onto targets but it occasionally locks onto a foe that is nowhere near the enemy I originally intended it to be. Flicking the right analog stick while still holding R1 toggles enemy targeting, but can prove to be difficult to execute due to awkward button placement.
There are still some bright spots in gameplay to be had though. I did enjoy the boss battles a lot, and later on Ash can get a flamethrower and a harpoon gun instead of using just his chainsaw and Boomstick for the entire game. Not a lot of games can say this either, but I felt compelled to keep playing Regeneration by its story. It is the typical Evil Dead fare which is a scary movie that doesn't take itself seriously, and Ash is always there with plenty of witty remarks for the perfect amount of comic relief. There are some extras to be unlocked to keep you coming back also. By collecting pick-ups scattered throughout the game, you unlock concept art and Bruce Campbell interview skits (Bruce reveals why Matthew Perry checked himself into rehab, you'll never guess why either).
The visuals in Regeneration are fairly decent for the most part. Ash and Sam are the only standouts as far as the character designs go, with the exceptions of a few boss characters later on. Ash is a perfect translation of Mr. Campbell himself, complete with his gigantic chin and Sam looks quite trippy in his half human/half Deadite form. The rest of the villains use repetitive character models that don't look all that impressive. The stage design of the various graveyards and woods Ash traverses is solid and acceptable, but again, nothing really stood out to make me take in the scenery. Aurally is where everything comes together. Bruce Campbell does a tremendous job voicing Ash, and delivers all his lines right on the notch. Ted Raimi does a bang up job voicing Sam too. The background music matches the atmosphere the game is going for and immersed me right into the experience.
In the end, Evil Dead: Regeneration is a pretty decent game that is worthy of a rental. Sure it has some rather noticeable flaws that detract from the experience, but it has a certain element of charm that kept me hooked until the end. It also is being released at a convenient $20 budget price, so if you don't like it you are bound to know at least one die-hard Bruce Campbell fan this can make a perfect stocking stuffer for.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 11/16/05
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