MediEvil Resurrection Hands-On

We delve further into the undead action game remake on Sony's handheld.

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MediEvil: Resurrection
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Get ready for more one-eyed, arm-tossing, sword-swinging mayhem with the upcoming MediEvil Resurrection, the debut of the tongue-in-cheek adventure game on the PSP. We spent a bit more time today with a build of the game that seemed identical to the one shown on the floor at the Electronic Entertainment Expo last month, consisting of the first level of the game and one short but rather addictive crossbow-shooting minigame.

When Sir Daniel said he needed a hand in his adventures, we doubt this is what he had in mind.
When Sir Daniel said he needed a hand in his adventures, we doubt this is what he had in mind.

If you've never played a MediEvil game before, the plot reads like your standard-issue heroic-knights-versus-evil-wizards tale, except that the knight in question is of the not-so-recently-dead variety. Sir Daniel Fortesque, the hero of the story, is the mumbling protagonist of this game and doesn't seem to mind being undead. In fact, he turns it to his advantage, using his detachable left arm as a weapon of sorts early on in the game--either as a melee-style attack or as a boomerang-like ranged attack. You won't be stuck using the bony appendage as your main weapon for long, however, as it didn't take long before we were stocked up with a long sword, throwing daggers, a great wooden club, and a bronze shield. Presumably this arsenal will only be the tip of the death-dealing iceberg, as the weapon inventory screen (accessed by pressing the select button) seemed to have plenty of room for more entries.

Some of the weapons and armor you collect throughout the game will be temporary in nature. You have only a set number of daggers, for instance. Melee weapons will wear out over time as well, and you'll be able to keep track of your weapons' health, thanks to a handy status meter in the lower right corner of the screen. During our adventures in the first level of the game, we even ran into a red merchant imp who was willing to hand over a set of 10 daggers for a price.

We encountered only a couple of types of enemies in our time with MediEvil Resurrection--shambling skinny zombies that were pretty easy to sneak up on and gank from behind and a brutish, fat undead type that typically guarded bridges and gates. We didn't have too much trouble picking them off, especially using the handy floating reticle that accompanies Sir Dan during his adventures. When you approach enemies, the little reticle will float over to one enemy and show you which bad guy Dan is focusing on. Tossing a dagger will usually result in some damage dealt, though the farther away Daniel is the less accurate he becomes. In the case of daggers, you can choose to toss either one or two knives at a time at an enemy, using the X or square button respectively. About the only trouble we had with enemies was when we were overwhelmed by sheer numbers, as one-on-one encounters usually entailed waiting for the zombie to come to us and then slicing and dicing. When Sir Dan is surrounded, things get a bit more chaotic, especially because the game's controls make it sometimes difficult to position him in front of an enemy. Nonetheless, with a bit of practice and patience, victory was ours.

 The crossbow mini-game is easy to play and surprisingly fun.
The crossbow mini-game is easy to play and surprisingly fun.

Most of the demo proved to be a simple hack-and-slash affair, with minimal platform hopping involved, though we expect to see more jumping in the full game. The demo level ended with a trip to the Hall of Heroes, where Sir Daniel was able to choose a special weapon from one of his fallen comrades at the Battle of Gallowmere. Unfortunately, only the crossbow was available in the demo, but we also saw a huge mace and broadsword, which will presumably be available when the full version of the game comes out in September. We spent just as much time with the addictive little crossbow minigame, which had us blasting bolts into paper targets as if at a medieval county fair, as we did with the short demo of the game's first level. We're curious to see how the other minigames in Resurrection, with titles such as Pit 'O' Death, Whack a Zarok, and Trebuchet o' Terror, play out.

In terms of presentation, MediEvil Resurrection has loads of Tim Burton-esque charm and dry wit going for it. We love what we've heard of the spooky soundtrack so far and the voice acting, especially that of the smart-mouthed imp that guides Sir Daniel through his quests, which seems very well done. If the gameplay in the full version of Resurrection proves to be as unchallenging as the demo, here's hoping the delightful gallows humor sprinkled throughout the first level continues all the way through the rest of the game. Stay tuned for more information on this game, and a full review, later on in the year.

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