Review: Evil Dead: Regeneration (PS2)

Genre: Action
Platform: PS2/Xbox/PC
Rating: M (Mature)
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Cranky Pants Games
Release Date: 09/13/2005

Ash returns! Bruce Campbell returns! The Necronomicon returns! THQ has given us yet another Evil Dead game…but how does it measure up to the disappointing past efforts Hail to the King and Fistful of Boomstick?


STORY

Regeneration is a sequel to Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn. Unlike in the film, where Ash is thrown back in time and ends up in medieval England (thus beginning Army of Darkness), Regeneration shows us that Ash was arrested and thrown into an insane asylum, charged with murdering all of his friends. Naturally, the cops didn’t believe his wild tales about “deadites,” so Ash is stuck in the loony bin for the foreseeable future. As you can probably figure out on your own, the Evil Dead come back; this time, due to the machinations of the asylum’s director, a stereotypical German mad scientist named Dr. Vingo Reinhard. The crazed doctor has gotten his hands on the Necronomicon, the ultimate evil book from all the Evil Dead films, and he’s caused portals to the world of the dead to pop up all over the place. Ol’ Ash busts out, gets his weapons back and teams up with a midget Italian deadite named Sam to stop the resurgence of evil. Yeah, it’s the classic good-vs-evil tale, and Ash fighting legions of the dead while spewing one-liners is certainly nothing new. But, the alternate take on the ending to ED2 is cool, making Regeneration an interesting “what if” story, at the least.

(Rating: 6/10)


GRAPHICS

Regeneration‘s graphics aren’t the best you’ll see on the PS2, but they’re no eyesore. The character models are decent, adding a bit of a “cartoony” flair to Ash and his foes.

Ash himself is animated rather well, and as expected with an Evil Dead property, there’s loads of blood. Bucket loads. Tanker truck loads, as it were. (Of course, it looks a bit like spraypaint, as video game blood often does.) While Ash runs around chopping up deadites and other monsters, body parts will fly everywhere, but there’s some occasional slowdown. Textures and environments look alright, but don’t exactly push the PS2’s hardware.

(Rating: 6/10)


SOUND

Bruce Campbell provides the voice of Ash. That would be enough to guarantee a solid “10” score here…except for two things. One, many of his lines sound a bit flat, as if Campbell was bored. Two, the music and sound effects really aren’t that good. But, there’s still a bit of balance; Ted Raimi (Evil Dead director Sam Raimi’s brother) does the voice work for Sam, Ash’s sidekick. The repartee between Sam and Ash is often hilarious, especially since for a dead guy, Sam can’t keep his trap shut. Ash doesn’t spew as many over-the-top one-liners as in the films, but there’s still enough here to make you cackle. All of the other sound in the game really takes a back seat to the vocal work, and with good reason.

(Rating: 8/10)


CONTROL & GAMEPLAY

Regeneration is, unfortunately, another installment of “Generic Third Person Action Gameâ„¢.” To make matters worse, there’s also a few annoying glitches you may run into, but we’ll get to those momentarily.

Ash has two different attacks at any point in the game; left weapon and right weapon. More often than not, your left weapon will be the ol’ boomstick (shotgun), and the right will be Ash’s arm-mounted chainsaw. Other weapons are available at different points, but the classics work quite well. Combo attacks can be pulled off, and pressing the Select button will bring up a list of the ones you have available to you. Certain enemies can only be destroyed with specific combos, so you’d do well to remember them. Plus, most deadites require a “finishing move” to get rid of them for good. This is very easily done; when green vapor starts pouring off of a deadite, simply run up to it and press the Triangle key, and Ash will execute a random finishing move. Many of these are quite funny, and some are taken straight from the Evil Dead films (like Ash’s over-the-shoulder shotgun blast from Army of Darkness). Monsters like skeletons don’t need the finisher; repeated blasts or chainsaw attacks will just shatter them.

Then…we’ve got Sam. Early on in the game, you’ll come across the spirit of Professor Knowby, the owner of the creepy cabin, and the man who unearthed the Necronomicon in the first place. Knowby functions as your “spirit guide” throughout Regeneration, and one of his first bits of assistance is to introduce you to Sam, a failed “experiment” of Reinhard’s. Sam’s a deadite…but somehow, he didn’t turn into a slathering monster zombie. Instead, he’s a walking corpse…albeit a midget Italian one. He couldn’t be any more stereotypical, either; Sam sports a gold necklace, wife-beater, slicked-back hair, chinos, and a strong Brooklyn accent. Ash isn’t keen on the little runt following him around, but Sam comes in handy in many situations. You can boot him at enemies, and he’ll annoy or kill them himself while you fight other deadites. Since he’s a midget, Sam can also access places that Ash can’t, especially once you learn how to possess him. Finally, Sam’s already dead, so when he gets ripped apart (which happens a lot), he’ll crawl right back out of the ground with a fresh body.

While all of this seems well and good, it gets old fast. Combo attacks, multiple weapons, even the combat style…it’s all been done to death (no pun intended), and it’s usually been done better, like in the Legacy of Kain series. Plus, the camera system in Regeneration is a bit weak. The right analog stick will move the camera anywhere you wish, and the R3 button will autocenter it…but the lack of a decent autofollow system is horrible. If you’re slashing at deadites and get backed into a corner, or are trying to outrun enemies, the camera will often cause obstacles to get in your line of sight.

Now for those glitches. To proceed in levels, you need to destroy every deadite that appears. Seems simple enough…but sometimes, the foes will get stuck in corners or walls, where you can’t see them. Then you’re stuck slashing and attacking everything in sight until you happen upon the foe, and hopefully you can still destroy it. In very rare instances, the game will freeze up entirely, and you’ll have to reset and reload from your last save point. The freezing glitch is a rarity, but the enemy-in-corners problem can get incredibly annoying, especially in later levels that are quite large.

(Rating: 5/10)


REPLAYABILITY

Littered throughout the various stages in Regeneration are items to increase your health, new abilities, and pages from the Necronomicon. These unlock random stuff throughout the game, like galleries, items, and so on. Not too much to go on, but you’ve got the option to replay any level you’ve already beaten, so going back to get all of the items you missed isn’t too tough.

(Rating: 6/10)


BALANCE

The very first level of the game is a tutorial, which will teach you how to use Ash’s attacks and finishing moves. As you move through later levels, new abilities and such will be clearly explained to you each time. Regeneration‘s not super-difficult, but it’s no breeze either. There’s a decent difficulty curve, though experienced gamers will have no trouble completing it over a weekend or so.

(Rating: 7/10)


ORIGINALITY

The Evil Dead franchise has, I’m sorry to say, worn out its welcome. Fans don’t want more subpar action games; they want a fourth film. The “what if” idea is interesting, but so rooted in stereotypes and rehashed gameplay that it barely resembles anything original.

(Rating: 3/10)


ADDICTIVENESS

This really boils down the player’s personal preference. If he/she likes mindless action games, then Regeneration maybe keep them occupied for quite a while. Most other gamers, though, will beat the game and forget about it.

(Rating: 5/10)


APPEAL

Regeneration is aimed at one audience, and one audience only: drooling rabid Evil Dead fans. Every single one of them is likely to pick up this game; they did with the past few games, problems nonwithstanding. Casual Evil Dead fans will rent it, and everyone else will play something else. Still, the Evil Dead fanbase is big enough, so Regeneration won’t be a total flop.

(Rating: 7/10)


MISCELLANEOUS

Regeneration has its shortcomings. But, fortunately, you won’t be shelling out fifty bucks for them: Regeneration‘s MSRP is only $19.99. Not bad at all. Even for a generic third-person action game, twenty beans won’t break the bank, and Evil Dead fans can at least part with that cash just to add it to their collections. Far worse games have been released, and for a lot more money.

(Rating: 7/10)


Final Scores:

Story: 6/10
Graphics: 6/10
Sound: 8/10
Control & Gameplay: 5/10
Replayability: 6/10
Balance: 7/10
Originality: 3/10
Addictiveness: 5/10
Appeal: 7/10
Miscellaneous: 7/10

Overall Score: 60/100
FINAL SCORE: 6.0 (FAIR)