Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick

Moby ID: 9419
Xbox Specs
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Special Edition

Description official descriptions

Ash returns for another round of killing, slashing and destroying the undead.

On this occasion, with a brand new story based on the world created in the Evil Dead films, Ash can teleport to 4 distinct eras of Dearborn, to not only see how the invasion of the dead took place all those years ago, but to watch in horror as they multiply and control the world they now live in.

As Ash, you must use his chainsaw for a hand, as well as the trusty shotgun and pistol, new magic abilities (call down a rain of fire or possess the enemy to do the dirty work for you), plus a host of other weapons (grenades, shovels, etc.) to destroy the dead.

Once you complete a level in story mode, you can go back into that level in arcade mode and attempt to complete a range of challenges (for example, taking down a certain amount of evil in a set amount of time).

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148 People (130 developers, 18 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 58% (based on 22 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.4 out of 5 (based on 14 ratings with 2 reviews)

Decent action adventure game based on a great license, which fans should get an extra kick out of. Shame it’s a lame PS-2 port, mind.

The Good
It must be said, history dictated contemporary Evil Dead outings always had their home on the Playstation formats, and this rendition of the game is PS-2 shovel-ware in the first degree, with the only things to remind you you’re not sitting in front of that aforementioned machine are the grooves of your controller, and the obligatory saving to the Box’ hard disk. But all is not lost however, cause’ the game proves itself to be not half bad on its own merits.

The game takes place from the third-person perspective, as you take control of the game’s protagonist, Ash, the jut jawed, Boomstick wielding saviour of all mankind. This time around, you have much more control over your viewing angle, as compared to THQs’ previous outing ‘Evil Dead - Hail to the king’ (PS, PC, DC) which took a decidedly ‘Alone in the dark’ style approach with stationary viewing angles, here you have more control over the camera, and it can be freely rotated around the player, as well as providing some reasonable ‘smart camera’ viewing angles. While still not as intuitive as say ‘Max Payne’ or ‘The Suffering’, it remains workable.

If you haven’t played the previous Evil Dead game I mentioned earlier, it’s of little consequence, as this game has a self-contained story line, which doesn’t require any extra information. The crux of the game-play here is a mixture of action, adventure and exploration, and some puzzles solving, in dispersed with a fairly good narrative, of which I’ll go into some more detail later.

There are two modes of play here, story mode and arcade mode, while the former is the chief bulk of the game, and the latter is kind of a “replay value” after thought. What concerns us here is the main game, so here we go: The basic premise sees Ash in his home town of Dearborn, and he is up to his neck in deadites as per usual, which he must fight his way through, and ultimately save the world from the heinous evil yet again.

The play moves in a quite nonlinear fashion, that is, you can freely move around the level scapes, and explore the surroundings, but in order to progress, you are given objectives, or tasks, which appear in your “To do” list, which can be found by accessing the inventory screen. Here, your goals are outlined on a coffee-stained notepad, and they appear on the paper, as if Ash was scrawling them down with a pencil, and also crosses them off upon completion.

You normally receive tasks from talking to various characters found throughout the game world, and they will usually concern gaining access to a certain place, or locating a specific person, or persons, obtaining objects, among some other more specific things. While you’re going about your business, there are hordes of deadites to contend with, who serve to keep you busy while you are figuring out all the connections.

The combat in this game employs a dual handed method, where as you can utilise two weapons to attack, and also deal out combination attacks with the chainsaw and another weapon. As for all third-person action games I’ve encountered, you again here use the X and A buttons to attack, here with the left or right hand respectively. You execute a combination by tapping A (chainsaw ready) twice, and then holding it on the second press, and when you get close to a deadite, you will impale him up releasing the button, and for example, if you had the shotgun in the right hand, you could blow his head clean off by pressing the X button as a following up to finish. Of course, you can combine the chainsaw with other weapons to yield different results, but discovering them for yourself is all part of the fun

Selecting a weapon for each hand is accomplished by using the white and black buttons, which effectively pauses the game, and arranges them in a scrolling vertical manner on either side of the display, and also gives stats like ammunition reserve for each weapon. Some of the other melee weapons and fire arms found throughout include a shovel, sickle, revolver, modified iterations of your primary shotgun, dynamite launchers, a gas gun, and much more besides. Ammo can be found around the game world, and sometimes will pop out of deadites upon being dispatched.

One combat facet I particularly liked was the ability to shoot firearms over your shoulder, (as prominently seen in the third movie) to kill things that are creeping up behind you. This is done by holding the left trigger button, which effectively aims up the closest deadite in your proximity.

If a deadite manages to grab you, there is some mild vibration feedback from the controller, and Ash’s health metre is displayed in the top left hand corner periodically, and is visualised as a series of blood droplets, and as he is attacked, drips will fall from the individual drops to relinquish each complement. Medical bags can be collected at some points, and stored in inventory, to top up your health when necessary. On occasion, deadites will drop a mini health kit, that will give you a small health increase instantly.

Weapons aren’t the only thing Ash has up his sleeve. He also carries around a handy copy of the book of the dead. What’s interesting here is, you can collect magic spell scrolls to use with the book, which provides some useful tricks against the army of the un dead. Some of the spells include ‘Extra strength’ (which grants Ash the strength of ten men), ‘Possess’ (possess a deadite for a limited time), ‘Lightning’ (strike down nearby deadites with lightning strikes). Spells come in the form of short controller button combinations, which can again be found in the inventory screen upon being collected. In order to cast spells, Ash requires a certain quota of mana, which can subsequently be collected from fallen deadites, where by their souls leave their bodies and shoot into your own when close by, which in turn fills up your magic metre. This facet of the game adds something unique to the game mechanics, which proves to be a welcome addition.

There are some good puzzle solving moments in the game, which often require some lateral thinking, and good observation of your surroundings, and also having to make full use of everything at your disposal.

Given the more open adventure style nature of the game, Saving progress is handled here with tokens that can be found at certain points about the various levels. Once collected, they are stored in your inventory, and can be used at any time during a level to keep all that you have accomplished to that point. Also, you get some freebie saves before and after a boss battle, which is a neat little inclusion.

The game sports some really good monster designs. There are some huge plodding green nasties, which are suitably imposing, and there is some enormous guardians to encounter at certain intervals, as well as the good assortment of decrepit twisted deadites that stumble about in a charismatic fashion. Sometimes you will encounter deadite torsos which drag themselves around with their hands, which is cool.

There are a few pre rendered cut-scenes lightly peppered through the game, which admittedly look much prettier than the in-game stuff, with striking facial animations and gestures and an overall high level of polish. These provide an interesting diversion for some good narrative, and add some spice to the proceedings.

One of the best things about the game is what Bruce Campbell brings to the games overall charm and character by providing the voice of Ash. He also did so for the previous Evil Dead game, but in that instance, provided a very subdued, unenthusiastic performance. This isn’t the case here, however, and he delivers the familiar style one-liners, quips and banter that have been scripted well in tune with the ‘Army of darkness’ movie in particular, and are brought to life with some genuine gumption and conviction by Campbell, as only he can.

The voice overs from the various other players are done well enough, and there aren’t any real problems here. In terms of sound effects, you are catered for nicely with what you would come to expect, much gun fire and explosions which are complimented with a good deal of punch, incessant buzzing of chainsaws, and the following squeals from the things on the receiving end of your implements of death are also well realised. The racy style of orchestral incidental music here helps heighten the more busy moments.

The Bad
The visuals here aren’t bad per say, though suffer greatly from absolutely no enhancements for the superior hardware. The colours here are quite bland, with much brown and grey covering the scenes, which gives it all this sort of dull unappealing look about it. The polygon count for all the various models here is quite low, as you might expect, and it’s all fairly flatly textured, and as for pixel shading . . . forget it.

Ash himself does look the part, though his face is a single bitmap which doesn’t animate, and this is also true for all in-game character models. Put simply, it’s just a very lazy straight conversion, which is unfortunately so common on the Box’.

The variety in level design here is a bit lacklustre to say the least, and often the same environment is used time and time again and is subsequently simply being tweaked a little bit, each instance. Things can certainly get a bit boring and stale in this respect.

Despite the combination moves that can be achieved in the game, combat does get a bit routine, and highly repetitious and after a while all excitement is detached, and it merely becomes an exercise in monotony. The way in which the deadites never stop re spawning the majority of time in order to keep you busy, harks back to the days of the NES, where similar techniques were often employed so you don’t get bored along the way.

The Bottom Line
Fist Full of Boomstick is a solid action adventure outing, with plenty of good humourous dialogue thoughtfully delivered with good aplomb and style by a game Campbell, and carries things along so charismatically, and goes to lengths in nullifying any of the short comings. The game has some good staying power, with a decent amount of fodder to explore, puzzles to solve, and deadites to slay, which all blends together well enough, and provides a fairly absorbing and entertaining concoction that is well worth staying with until the very end. The game is slightly marred by decidedly rudimentary visuals inherent of its source, and the oversight of the combat lacking enough depth to maintain interest over the long term, but otherwise proves to be a competent first entry for the Xbox. Fans should definitely take the plunge and buy it, the unconverted should perhaps try before they buy.

Xbox · by Nick Drew (397) · 2007

Mediocre, but not unplayable.

The Good
This is the second Evil Dead game I know of; the previous, also by THQ, was awful in every way. So awful, in fact, that I only bought this because someone said it was better.

And they were right, though that doesn't exactly say much.

Basic combat is actually quite satisfying, given that your basic weapons are the most macho things imaginable, a sawed-off shotgun and a chainsaw mounted on the stump of your arm. Especially cool is Ash's move of shooting over his own shoulder, spaghetti-western style. And you'll soon find it useful: deadites come at you in large swaths, making for frantic action.

But when you've chopped them all into tiny bits, and shot all the bits that keep wriggling around, you'll notice that the scenery looks a bit, well... it looks a lot like Playmobil. It's like it's 1996 all over again and Duke Nukem is at the cutting edge of urban looks. They are in fact a twisty maze of streets, all alike - I kept getting lost and doubling back on myself because I couldn't tell anything apart.

The Bad
Bruce Campbell doesn't come through very well in this - I really enjoyed his lines in Tachyon: The Fringe, but here, he seems to be dragged down by uninspired writing and tired old references. His in-game model doesn't come off very well, either: See that odd Ash action figure on the cover? The in-game one is about the same, only cornier.

Also, the game is infected by that terrible plague called the "save game token", the power-up which will allow you to... save your game. Incredible. At least the damn thing lets you save anywhere you like, but it's still horribly misguided, especially since this game is most fun in half-hour doses.

Apart from the trusty shotgun and chainsaw, the other weapons are suitably macho: sticks of dynamite, shovels and a Gatling gun. In addition to the weapons, you collect spells which are cast by keypress sequences; this cute little touch actually kind of works, and is none the worse for reffing that Necronomicon scene when you press a wrong button.

The Bottom Line
Unlike its predecessor, Fistful of Boomstick manages to not be annoying. That said, it's not particularly good, either.

If you want Campbell flavor, get Tachyon before you get this, unless you detest anything that remotely smacks of space dogfighting. If you don't want Campbell flavor, stay far away from this game, it's the only thing it's got going for it.

PlayStation 2 · by Ola Sverre Bauge (237) · 2004

Trivia

Development

Bruce Campbell, who played Ash in the original Evil Dead movies, lends his voice to his character for the game, as well as helping THQ and Vis in the development of the story during the game.

Engine

The game uses a modified State Of Emergency engine.

Information also contributed by CaptainCanuck

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Kartanym.

Additional contributors: Indra was here, DreinIX, Patrick Bregger.

Game added June 16, 2003. Last modified December 5, 2023.