Evil Dead: Hail to the King Hands-On

Bruce Campbell, the Necronomicon, and Evil Ash - oh my. See how Evil Dead: Hail to the King is coming along in our hands-on report.

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Sam Raimi's infamous horror series is being made into a third-person adventure game courtesy of THQ. We recently had a chance to check out the latest build of Evil Dead: Hail to the King and found that it's a simplified and sillier take on the Resident Evil stereotype.

The game's plotline is completely original and takes place some seven years after the end of Army of Darkness. Ash has a new girlfriend and has been having nightmares about the evil of the Necronomicon. So you and your new girlfriend, Jenny, decide to revisit the original cabin in the woods where the events of the first two Evil Dead movies took place. It's here that Evil Ash resurfaces and kidnaps Jenny, which leaves you on a quest to destroy Evil Ash and rescue your love from the evil of the Necronomicon. All the infamous locales from the movie are found in the game. Evil Dead: Hail to the King takes place not only in the cabin and the surrounding woods but also in medieval Damascus, and Ash eventually travels back in time to battle his evil counterpart.

The gameplay is pretty simple. As Ash, you explore various environments and look for objects that progress the story. Along the way you'll run into all sorts of silly monsters that threaten your life, and you must dispose of them using any of the game's five different weapons. At the start of the game, you have only your trusty arm-mounted chain saw and a double-edged axe, but it's not long before you find a pistol, your sawed-off shotgun, a rifle, and another undisclosed weapon. The chain saw plays a large part in the game's combat system, as many of the fights are often close-combat swingfests. As such, the game makes you regulate your chain-saw use by making it dependent on gasoline. The more you use your chain saw, the more gas you consume; this leaves you no choice but to find more gas, which can be found in gas cans of various sizes littered in the woods and throughout medieval Damascus. The game also rewards you for killing enemies, as the corpses of slain enemies often accord you bullets, health kits, and other useful items.

The graphics need a little tweaking. All the action is made up of polygonal characters and objects overlaid on a prerendered background. The backgrounds look very nice, but the choppy action moving on top of it looks a little out of place. Ash himself looks pretty good, and some of the enemy characters in the game are fairly amusing, but the animation is fairly choppy, and there's a significant amount of slowdown. The game definitely carries the visual style of the Evil Dead movies and uses plenty of Sam Raimi's signature camera angles. From the zooming cameras to the now classic monster-view cam, Evil Dead: Hail to the King fits in with the visual presentation of the Evil Dead series. And though there are some problems with the in-game graphics, THQ will no doubt refine this area by the time the game ships.

The game uses plenty of sound effects from the movie and even features plenty of original voice work by Bruce Campbell. The game has a fairly interesting taunt system, and with the press of a button you can activate one of Ash's sassy one-liners. This system actually affects enemies, as weaker enemies will be intimidated and will possibly run from one of Ash's taunts, while stronger enemies will only get more aggressive when taunted. The sound effects are pretty good, and the one-liners are classic Evil Dead.

At this point the game needs some serious tweaking, but THQ is already aware of most of the major issues and promised that the game will undergo major refinement by the time the game ships. With a little spit and polish, Evil Dead: Hail to the King could be an excellent addition to the Evil Dead series.

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