Listen up you primitive screw heads: Ash, the protagonist from the Evil Dead trilogy, is back and ready to rock in Evil Dead: Regeneration.
At the outset of the game we find our hero institutionalized after surviving the demonic possession of his friends, trips to alternate dimensions and cutting his own hand off with a chainsaw. Understandably, everyone thinks he's crazy, but once a mad doctor gets a hold of the Book of the Dead and deadites begin to rise his story takes a significant jump in credibility.
Like previous games in the series Regeneration features the voice and likeness of Bruce Campbell in the role of Ash. New to the series is Sam, a half-zombie sidekick that is used and abused by Ash in order to solve puzzles and defeat or at least distract bosses.
The mechanic works, but the game relies on it way too much. Basically every level except for the first and the last all follow the same formula: use Sam to capture a soul and then protect him on his way to the gateway, once this is done a new waypoint is unlocked, but Ash is unable to reach it. Instead, he must possess Sam in order to gain access. Then it's time to grab the next soul and start the process all over again.
Also new to series is the dual weapon system. Ash can equip one of three different projectile weapons to his left hand (controlled by square) and one of three melee weapons to his right (controlled by circle). At first you only have the shotgun/chainsaw combo, but once the harpoon is acquired the combat possibilities are much more open. For instance, grab and enemy from afar with the harpoon pull them close and then juggle them in the air with successive shotgun blasts or use it to pull a deadite in close and work him over with the chainsaw. Other additions to the combat include finish moves and counter attacks, both of which are nice additions, although there could be a few more finishing move animations.
The game has its flaws, though. The fetch the soul/protect Sam routine gets predictable and old-fast. The lack of variety here makes for linear and arbitrary levels. The lock-on system for combat works really well at times and is a hassle at others. The main issue is the repetitive and forced slapstick humor, comes more from Havok's attempts to match the humor of the films. Many of the cutscenes come close, but the bits within the game and the repetitive one-liners become an annoyance early on and they don't get any better as the game progresses.
Visually, the game won't win any awards, but the framerate is solid, characters are well animated and the cutscenes (all real time) are detailed, especially the facial expressions.
A straightforward action game, Regeneration never aspires to by anything more than fun, paying equal parts homage to the film series that spawned the games and to Campbell himself. For a 20 dollar bargain title, Regeneration features plenty of solid, although repetitive, gameplay, well-done cut scenes, a combat system that is simple, but sturdy and a good camera. More than enough to justify the price of admission, but if you got the Army of Darkness reference in the opening, you probably didn't need much more convincing.
First Play: A-
Last Play: B
Overall: 86% B