Most Sci-Fi buffs, particularly the ones with a liking for B-grade cult movies would have heard of Sam Raimis – Evil Dead trilogy. This series of horror/comedy movies have become a cult classic and have spawned a number of spin-off products since they were released in the 80s.
Evil Dead: Regeneration is the fourth game in the series and quite honestly in the best of the bunch (well, the others are all crap). Unfortunately, being the best of the lot does not make it a great game, and Evil Dead: Regeneration comes across as a pretty formulaic, 3rd person action/adventure game, with a decent targeting and fighting system, great voice acting but very shoddy graphics and a whole host of bugs.
Regeneration is not connected to the previous game Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick, but rather explores an alternate storyline which deals with a What If? scenario had Ash not been sucked into the past at the end of Evil Dead II. Instead, the game starts off with Ash still in the cabin, when all of a sudden a bunch of deadites show up and start tearing the place apart. Ash disposes of the trash but unfortunately to the authorities it doesn’t look so heroic.
Ash is convicted of murder, but his insistence that the people he killed were possessed lands him in Sunny Meadows, an asylum for the criminally insane. Coincidentally, in the basement of that asylum, Dr. Vingo is carrying out all kinds of morbid experiments with the Necronomicon (the book that caused all this trouble in the first place). Eventually all hell breaks loose, and Ash is charged with the task of saving the world and defeating the twisted Dr. Vingo. Luckily you arent alone: you have the help of Sam, a regenerating deadite, and the floating head of Professor Knowby. Wonderful.
The game plays as a pretty standard 3rd – person action/adventure/brawler game. In his left hand, Ash has access to a variety of weapons, including a pistol and his favoured boomstick, while on his right hand he has the choice selection of amongst others, a chainsaw and a harpoon gun. Different weapons can be combined, leading to a couple of interesting and fun combinations, though the classic chainsaw and shotgun combo will probably remain the choice of the day. The game throws a number of enemies at you, but nothing too difficult and the games combat system is fairly simple and formulaic. In fact, even the boss fights arent too difficult to deal with – just run around shooting and you should be fine.
Combat has a nice little extra sneaked in as well – when you deal out enough damage to a foe, a green mist begins to emanate from their body, signalling that if you move in close and press triangle, Ash begins a scripted execution animation. There arent too many of these, but they are pretty fun to pull off.
But wait, there’s yet another twist to the combat in Regeneration. As Ash defeats foes, he’ll pick up little glowing orange balls that fill up his rage meter. When activated, Ash’s rage transforms him into a sort of demonic version of himself that is faster and stronger than the normal Ash. This rage effect is a good way to cut through a large group of enemies, but it really isn’t necessary, and in fact you can easily go through the entire game without using your rage at all. Nevertheless, it adds one more interesting twist to the game.
There are a couple of platforming elements tossed in, but fortunately they arent used overused, because Ashs jumping mechanics arent the greatest. Further diversions are tossed in with the use of Sam. Youll be forced to possess him in quite a few instances in order to accomplish some kind of task to allow Ash to continue on his quest. You even get to kick him around quite a bit, something that the game wholeheartedly encourages. One or two little mini-games are also tossed in for the fun of it, usually involving the gratuitous tapping of the X button.
Graphics are a bit of a letdown in this title though. The rendered cutscenes are fairly well done, but the in-game graphics are about as ugly as they come these days. Textures and character models are fairly flat and undetailed, something that you pick up throughout the game. Although the character animation is okay for the most part, it does come across as very early PlayStation scripting days to be quite honest.
The in-game music – is kept fairly minimal and is only used when deemed appropriate, like when you transform into Evil Ash or possess Sam. Sound effects are all present and accounted for, but when it comes to the voice acting, thats when this game shines. Excellent performances from the iconic Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi, with tons of witty and generally rather humorous dialogue makes for an enjoyable listening experience.
If fact it really is the humour that makes this game stand up a little out from the rest. It is a standard game with a standard story, but the performance from Bruce and Sam help raise it from the pile, making it a very enjoyable title to play, even if it is technically not all that great. It is a pity really, because if it had been just a little more polished then this could have been a really great title.
Note that a lot of blood and gore (even if it is comedic), combined with its Satanic/Demonic story threads makes this unsuitable for kids. Adults can have fun with it though :)
Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evil_Dead_Regeneration