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Evil Dead: Regeneration Review
game: Evil Dead: Regeneration
three star
posted by: Jeremy Kauffman
publisher: THQ
developer: Cranky Pants Games
date posted: 08:43 AM Sat Oct 15th, 2005
last revision: 02:20 PM Sun Oct 16th, 2005

Click to read.So you\'ve been patiently waiting for Sam \"I\'m doing Spider-Man now\" Raimi to give you some sugar and make Evil Dead 4, but instead you\'re getting a 2006 non-Raimi, sans Bruce Campbell, remake of the first film starring Ashton Kutcher. What\'s a faithful Deadite to do? Well, finish throwing up (c\'mon--Ashton Kutcher?!), hydrate yourself, and pick up the latest, true-to-its-roots Evil Dead video game, Evil Dead: Regeneration.

The story of Regeneration begins with a prologue set in the cabin in the woods. Players control Ash during key moments of Evil Dead 2, and train to use the new targeting and combo systems utilized in this game. Inevitably, Ash is violently sucked into an evil portal to the past to fight the Army of Darkness. This brings us to the present, presumably after the events of the third film, where the real action of the game takes place.

Unable to provide a reasonable explanation for butchering his friends at the cabin, Ash is serving time at the Sunny Meadows Asylum for the Criminally Insane. I guess the \"but your honor, they were possessed by the evil of the Necronomicon Ex Mortis and turned into soul-eating zombies\" plea doesn\'t get you far in a court of law.

Ash does have a couple of believers, however. His lawyer, Sally, is valiantly trying to find evidence that will exonerate her client. Meanwhile, his therapist, Dr. Reinhard has used the information Ash has given him to track down and use the Book of the Dead for his own fiendish plans. Intending to unlock the secrets of the book in order to harness the power of the dead while still keeping his soul, Reinhard is conducting experiments on inmates of the Asylum. He has yielded one success: a living deadite named Sam. This is apparently proof enough for him, as Reinhard then uses his spell on himself, which leads to disaster. He is consumed by evil, as are rest of the inmates and the Asylum itself. Reinhard disappears with the Necronomicon, and Sally, leaving Ash and his half-dead, half-pint companion Sam the task of stopping the evil and making things right.

For those of you seeking continuity in your video games, I guess that makes this a prequel to Evil Dead: A Fist Full of Boomstick. In that game Ash was a legend in the town of Dearborn and called upon as a hero to stop the next wave of the evil dead. Fans of the series will remember that game used the same engine that Rockstar created for State of Emergency in order to aptly capture the over the top mayhem and campy style of the Evil Dead films. It was pitch-perfect in that it made you feel as if, during every minute of gameplay, you were truly surrounded by an overwhelming onslaught of zombies. Also, the multiple gore zones, dual weapon-wielding, and independent targeting system made for some good, gory fun.

In all honesty, I thought the use of that engine in Boomstick was genius. I am not a big fan of taking part in the meaningless violence of a riot, as in State of Emergency. But throw me into the mix with twenty or thirty seething zombies and I am hooked. Alas, using the same format for yet another game would be overkill even for the most die hard fan. In light of that, Regeneration uses a more traditional third-person action platform. It is a path-driven, by-the-numbers beat \'em up, and not a bad one at that. This time around, Ash relies on a single, lock-on targeting system, sequenced combos, and flashy finishing moves. Combos can consist of various slashes, stabs, twirls, and leaps. Ash can \"juggle\" opponents in the air by slashing or shooting them multiple times for a graphic, yet comical effect. The finishing moves relish in Ash\'s trademark style. In one, Ash impales his foes with his chainsaw, feeds them his shot gun, and blows them across the screen. There are many others.

As the game progresses, Ash must utilize a variety of weapons. In addition to his shotgun, he also uses a pistol and a bomb-lance. He can replace his chainsaw with a prosthetic harpoon and flamethrower. Also at his disposal is Sam, his half-deadite companion. There are various puzzle-solving portions of the game that require Ash to possess Sam and use his tiny stature to their advantage, crawling through small holes to reach vital areas. Other times, Ash must protect Sam from the hordes of evil dead as he works to complete a goal. And then there are moments when Ash must simply punt the poor, diminutive ghoul into harms way in order to solve their problems. Anyway you slice it, Sam usually ends up meeting a bloody but humorous end, making this game a contender for the year\'s best experience of schadenfreude in a video game.

Of course, gameplay is only part of the reason for fans to pick up this title. We want the campy humor, the terrible one-liners, the off the wall antics the Evil Dead series is famous for, and the video games are the last remaining source to get our fix. Don\'t worry; this game delivers the goods. The boss characters in Regeneration retain the look and feel and imaginative quality of the deadites from the films. It is not enough for a boss to wield electricity, he must form tiny puppet soldiers out of electric current and send them after Ash. And it is never as easy as defeating a giant soul-eater to gain passage through a cave. The soul-eater of this game is the cave. Ash must enter through the mouth and exit through the...well, you get the picture, and it isn\'t pretty. Ash\'s surroundings are just as dangerous as his enemies. Lamps laugh at you, blood spews from elevators, and if you try to enter the wrong door, the door kicks your ass. And yes, you even get to play as Evil Ash.

Between the action sequences, there is an abundance of cut scenes that will have fans rolling. One of the more precious scenes from the game takes place from the perspective of the evil as it soars across the landscape and enters an elevator. A security guard in the elevator screams bloody murder while the evil patiently waits for the elevator to stop and the doors to open. Soon, the elevator musak, the screams, and the wait are too much and the evil slaughters the guard, and hurriedly presses the 3rd floor button until the door opens and it moves on.

All of this occurs along with the constant banter of the two leads, played by the man himself, Bruce Campbell, and Ted Raimi (playing Sam-nice in-joke). They never shut up and I wouldn\'t have it any other way.

In terms of presentation, the graphics are the best so far for the series (though still a far cry from the best the Xbox or PS2 have to offer). The cut scene animation is spot-on in terms of likeness and action. The sound is great, with all of the right effects down to the roar of the evil to the squishy sounds that accompany the decapitations. The music is surprisingly good, with the odd techno soundtrack that accompanies the possession of Sam being my favorite. The voice over acting is superb. And there are plenty of unlockable secrets for the fans to enjoy as well.

What does this all add up to? Well, if you aren\'t a fan of the films you can knock a star off the rating and, in all likelihood, ignore this game. But let\'s face it, if you weren\'t a fan, you wouldn\'t have read this far. The good stuff is there, but so is the bad. The action is extremely repetitive. The gameplay isn\'t particularly deep, unique, or even as well suited to the property as was that of its predecessor. And the game is very, very short. As in you could easily beat it in the space of a rental, or even an afternoon if you are dedicated. If you are fresh off the films and looking for the best game, I\'d point you toward the previous game, Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick. But for the those of us who have been there for the long haul, and you know who you are, the experience is well worth the budget price (under $20). For Deadites everywhere, Evil Dead: Regeneration is--come on, say it like you mean it--\"groovey.\"

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