It’s a moot point for a gaming geek to say they’re a fan of B-movie actor Bruce Campbell and the Evil Dead movies. They’re a wildly diverse set of movies, as the first one is dedicated to scaring and grossing you out, while the second one veers between outlandish comedy (the main character played by Campbell being attacked by his own hand) and the supremely gross (Campbell chopping off said hand with a nearby chainsaw), and the third one just going for all-out comedy (“Shop smart, shop S-Mart, ya got that?!?!”). The subsequent games have also veered wildly, but they’ve gone from “suck” to “rockin’ cool”. The latest falls into the “rockin’ cool” category as Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick (which wins points with me for the title alone) just kicks all kinds of butt and lands squarely in the fun-to-play category.

I’ll say it up front: The graphics threw me. I couldn’t figure out whether I thought they were great, or were just really lame, but either way they work for the story. They fit into the saga well because they give the feeling of watching a shoe-string budget horror flick which the entire trilogy really was. The maps aren’t the most inspired (or even the most organized) but they ooze atmosphere. Dearborn, MI, has never quite oozed like it does in this game.

If you can get past the fact that the game uses save tokens then you’re fine. They’re scattered about each board and naturally the harder the difficulty the fewer there are. You can also save between boards. I didn’t have too much of a problem with this as burning through each level never really took that long, not to mention if you’re good enough with your use of ammo and the chainsaw, then you shouldn’t need to worry about constant saving.

The graphics really struck me as unique when I first played through the game. The Deadites come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and all look appropriately evil. The real treat is the attention to detail as when Ash is swinging his chainsaw, limbs and blood go flying everywhere. Deadites can also get blown in half, and their upper torso will still crawl towards you. It seems that every piece of the character models is able to come off, as I’ve taken off arms, legs, heads, and miscellaneous bits and pieces and it all looked great. The work done on the town is so-so, and actually reminded me of Neil Manke’s legendary They Hunger mod for Half-Life. Spell effects are pretty snazzy as well (for some genuine belly laughs, try screwing up the spells), and their effects on mobs of Deadites are quite nifty. Bruce Campbell’s talent with the one-liner remains unsurpassed (“When you’ve just emptied both barrels into your favorite bartender, it’s a safe bet Happy Hour’s over.”), and the constant rumbling of the chainsaw, the sound of the shotgun blasting Deadites, and the splattering of body parts and gore all come through with a terrific vibrancy. I’d play through it again based solely on the sound effects and they are just really cool. The Deadites sound like they do in the movies too, all evil and “swallow your soul” style menace. Some really good stuff to be found here. And did I mention Bruce Campbell living it up?

The controls available are fairly well laid out and easy to use, but the targeting reticule is a double-edge sword. One the one hand, it’s great to be able to target Deadites over the shoulder and blast them with your shotgun (a really cool animation by the way), but when you try and target mobs of enemies it’s way too easy to be locked onto one enemy while 15 more attack and slaughter you. Plus, the combo moves are a little tougher to consistently pull off than the developers would have you believe.

The fun factor in Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick is sky high for fans of the series. A good way to describe it would be to call it Gauntlet with a chainsaw and shotgun, as you’re constantly swarmed by enemies who need a good killing, all while looking for keys. There’s some repetition to be found in key-hunting, but there’s just so much fun to be had in the meantime it’s easy to accept. Not to mention you can beat the game in around six hours if you really try for it, so this is a perfect twitch game for the weekend warrior. I love impaling a Deadite on Ash’s chainsaw, then blasting them into the air with my shotgun, while Bruce Campbell throws out a pithy aside. Any game that lets you do this deserves to be played right now.