Evil Dead: Hail to the King Hands-On

Evil Dead: Ashes to Ashes fits snugly into the survival-horror genre between Capcom's Resident Evil series and Eidos' Fear Effect.

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Evil Dead: Hail to the King fits snugly into the survival-horror genre between Capcom's Resident Evil series and Eidos' Fear Effect. Its similarities to the latter are its low-slung cinematic camera angles and video-looped backgrounds, which provide the illusion of a living environment. While Fear Effect's backgrounds have pulsing lights and rising steam, Evil Dead's backgrounds have trees and shadows that move when the wind blows. The game's resemblance to Resident Evil is much more obvious, but not unwelcome. Anyone familiar with the control scheme of that line should be able to pick up Evil Dead very quickly, though it's slightly different in that your character has a weapon in both hands.

All the environments seen in the game so far are lit either by moonlight or by lantern, which gives it a nice eerie look that's slightly different from other titles in the genre. Many scenes are based on places found in Evil Dead II, but new areas found deeper in the woods are available as well. In one setting, you come across a cabin - full of arcane artifacts, trash, and bits of gore - which is the home of a family of hillbillies who've been possessed by Kandarian demons (the developers refer to them as "hellbillies"). We won't even get started on the matter of the family's monster pig.

Heavy Iron Studios seems to have already made significant advances in the game's sound. The growl of the chainsaw and blast of the shotgun are very sharp, and Bruce Campbell's comments add to the experience nicely. It's far from finished, so it's too early to say if they'll become tiresome over time, but THQ reports that Campbell will soon be going back to the studio to record a second round of voice-overs, so hopefully there'll be a lot of variety to the voice work.

The film trilogy's humor comes through during the game's fatalities. As in Mortal Kombat and Nightmare Creatures II, you're able to deliver a final dramatic blow to your enemies once you have them on the ropes. The one we saw involved impaling a gibbering flying demon on your chainsaw and blowing its head off with your shotgun. Bruce Campbell comments, of course, follow.

The version of the game we played still had some ways to go before you could sit down and play through a chunk as you would in the final edition, so it's too early to give concrete gameplay impressions. What we saw looked promising, though, and we hope the game will fulfill its potential. Expect more on it soon.

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