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1995-2001
GamesFirst! Magazine

edhk_dc_cover.jpg (7156 bytes)


star06.gif (4104 bytes)star06.gif (4104 bytes)

by THQ

dc2_ss18.jpg (4858 bytes)Much like a statement or argument in geometry, a proper review for this game should begin with a "Given" or "A Priori", as it were:  Evil Dead: Hail to the King is crap. Therefore, we might make the logical assumption that there are certain associative properties within this game and make the necessary buying decision a little easier. That having been said, there are certain mitigating factors that save this title from complete humiliation. Let us consider the facts.

The Story:

dc2_ss17.jpg (4985 bytes)Evil Dead began in the theatres in 1982. Directed by Sam Raimi, ED started, along with such movies as House, a new breed of horror films that didn't take themselves too seriously and offered gory, b-rated, terror that was balanced by comedy relief. The plot centers on a book called the Necronomicon ex Mortis, or "Book of the Dead" (presumably the same book in the start-up screen of Castlevania 64). The hero is a brave (and rather simple) character named Ash (played by Bruce Campbell). Ash's adventures begin in the first and second movie in a rickety, old cabin in the woods owned by an archeologist who is translating the book and accidentally summons an, ill-tempered demon. The game makes a return to the cabin after Ash has returned from a time warp in the third movie, Army of Darkness, and is attempting to end nightmares and anxiety due to his past run-ins with the book. Many old-school horror moviegoers (Amityville Horror, Rosemary's Baby and Psycho fans) have been very critical of the Evil Dead movies and blame them for starting the trend of lighthearted movies like Scream. But if you are a fan of this type of fright, there are some laughs and enjoyment in store here.

The Control:

dc1_ss9.jpg (6809 bytes)Control is a major problem! Though the game seeks to emulate the control of Resident Evil, there is no "smart interface". Every single key-action requires a trip to the inventory screen and Ash must be DIRECTLY in front of a device to use it. This is a real drag when the player must routinely click on a switch or opening five or six times before the detection process works. Worst of all, the analog support kicks-off constantly (usually after Ash has attacked), and makes it really difficult to dodge or flee enemies. Enemies, by the way, can hit a few feet further than their weapons should theoretically reach, yet Ash, unless using a gun, usually must get up close and personal to make a hit.

The Graphics:

dc1_ss8.jpg (6471 bytes)The pre-rendered backgrounds, while not very high-res, are animated nicely. Bushes, flames and fog move believably in the surroundings. Ash himself, however, looks like crap and must have been ported straight over from the PlayStation version with no real touch-ups. Clipping in his joints occurs all the time and he walks like an arthritic zombie himself. Most annoying, is the S L O W D O W N. Several times, the framerate would fall to somewhere between 7 and 15 frames/second with only a few enemies on the screen. If Dead or Alive 2 can run at 60 frames per second with a million polygons on screen, then why can't EDHK stay there with a couple of thousand?

Play Mechanics:

dc2_ss19.jpg (5070 bytes)These are mixed. On the downside, fighting the enemies, which should be the best part of a game like this, gets to be a massive drag. Killing a deadite usually results in a pick-up of ammo, chainsaw gas or a health item, but many of the trickier ones begin to seriously wear on the nerves and supplies. A constant battle-of-attrition, it quickly becomes obvious that it is better to run than to fight, or else there is not enough resources left to beat the bosses. It was cute to see reel-to-reel tapes as save items like Resident Evil's typewriter ribbons, and the movies were done serious justice in things like the forest paths, which are very difficult to navigate (like the changing paths in Evil Dead 2), but later follow the map once the demon mother-tree is killed. With a few minor exceptions, the puzzle-solving is quite manageable and intuitive. It is totally awesome to see a game that doesn't let a player simply "Walk off the screen" to reset the enemies in an area. Upon returning, you find them waiting right there for you. Also, if you do not have the room or need to pick-up an item at the moment, then just leave it and it will be there next time you pass by.

Sound:

dc1_ss11.jpg (8381 bytes)The sound effects and music in EDHK are very worthy. A little like a cross between MDK and Doom, the music, particularly in boss battles, really hits the spot. Meanwhile the sounds of enemies, wind, etc. are very clean and effective. It does, however, get a little old to hear "I'll swallow your soul" every five seconds in some rooms. Campbell's one-liners are pretty repetitive, but the dialog in the cutscenes is great. Fresh and funny, Ash's interactions with others in the game during these cutscenes are the true saving grace of EDHK.

What to do?

dc1_ss2.jpg (7275 bytes)Make no mistake kids! This is not a game to buy. The horrible controls and tedious enemies will make you wish that you had not. If you are a fan of the Evil Dead story, however, this is a fun rental to see what's new with everybody’s favorite one-handed warrior. Some hardcore EDHK sites on the net are actually calling this "Evil Dead IV" and considering the implications of the story and the involvement of Sam Raimi, himself, in the production of the game, and this might be appropriate. If the developers and game-rental industry really loved the fans, though, they would have charged $1.00 per rental and installed a cheat-code that would let you watch the cutscenes without the real-life horror of having to play this game.

Adam V. Albrec

Snapshot

Ups: Great sound; great story; cool FMVs.

Downs: Tricky control; too repetitive; dated graphics; dated gameplay.

System Reqs:
Sega Dreamcast

 

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