Evil Dead: Hail To The King
THQ/Heavy Iron Studios
Release Date: December 4th 2000
What the critics said
Gamespot: “Had the battle sequences not been so maddeningly frustrating and frequent, Evil Dead: Hail to the King would at least weigh in as a decent Resident Evil clone, but they work to make the game almost unplayable”
IGN: “You wanted this one to be good. I know, buddy, I was there too. But as much as I give respect to Bruce Campbell, it’s tough to follow his every move when so often he steps in crap. He can’t save every flaming shipwreck — I know, I saw the Twister rip-off Tornado”
GamePro: “It’s a mystery (and a shame) why with solid survival horror games like “Nightmare Creatures” or the “Resident Evil” series out there as examples, a “can’t-miss” movie license like Evil Dead couldn’t have faired better. ”
GameOverOnline: “Terrifying for all the wrong reasons. The gameplay is repetitive while the combat is frustrating and unrewarding. The graphics are outdated and the sound is unimaginative.”
Sometimes things just don’t make sense……
The cancellation of HBO’s Deadwood
British Summer Time
Mayonnaise with Chips
And, the lack of a truly excellent Evil Dead video game.
The cult horror series, in which Bruce Campbell – as the chainsaw wielding Ash – battles demons known as Deadites, seems like the perfect fodder for an excellent video game adaptation. Hell, for years other games have borrowed and referenced the films ad-nauseum. Don’t get me started on Duke Nukem – the dirty little thief. While pretty much everything the guy says is a reference – from Dirty Harry to “Rowdy” Roddy Piper – the majority of the lines that Duke fans hold dearly to their hearts belong to Bruce Campbell (who wasn’t happy about it).
Many would argue that the recent Army Of Darkness for the iOS platform is a decent Evil Dead video-game, being both enjoyable to play and fiendishly addictive. But, as a tower defense game designed to be played on the bus or on the loo, it’s hardly the epic video-game that Sam Raimi’s trilogy deserves. There’s been several other attempts over the years, but none have been anything other than middling tie-ins which fail to be anything other than mediocre.
Evil Dead: Hail To The King, released in 2000 for the Playstation, Dreamcast and PC was the most disappointing. Released with a significant marketing campaign and hype among the loyal fan-base of the films, Hail To The King turned out to be little more than a cheap knock-off of Capcom’s Resident Evil games – complete with static backgrounds, awkward controls and having to find ink ribbons… uh, I mean save-tapes.
To be fair to Hail To The King, of all the styles to which Evil Dead licence seemed like a natural fit, the survival horror of the Resident Evil games was probably the most suitable. The idea of having the same mix of atmospheric horror and immersive exploration in the eerie woodland and cabins of Evil Dead sounds awesome on paper – especially when you throw in the ability to take control of Bruce Campbell’s Ash, complete with a button for taunting (“Come get some”) and the signature arm mounted chainsaw.
Sadly, Hail To The King is a monotonous slog which is never anything but tedious to play. The controls are unbearably sluggish, the graphics are poor and the game is hampered by bad design choices. Even combat is a chore, with the Deadites – which look nothing like those in the films – being nigh on impossible to kill and Ash having all of the agility of a paralyzed sloth.
In fact, the combat is so frustrating and sluggish it’s best to simply avoid it. While killing feadites should be fun, gruesome and satisfying it’s better to simply run away and pretend that they aren’t there. Almost as annoying as the combat are the constant cries of “Join Us” as you navigate the wood areas surrounding the cabin. I’m not joking either, playing Hail To The King you’ll hear these words uttered endlessly during your attempts to outrun every deadite you cross.
Hail To The King was followed by two further attempts to successfully translate the films into a video game that didn’t suck – 2003’s Fistful of Boomstick and 2005’s Evil Dead: Regeneration. Both games were an improvement over Hail To The King, but only marginally so – failing to reignite much interest in the series.
Sadly it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see an Evil Dead game which lives up to the reputation of the classic films. With a video game market already over saturated with zombie games like Dead Rising 2: Off The Record and Dead Island, things are perhaps already a little too crowed for Ash and his Boomstick. Still, as lousy as Hail To The King was, at least the advert was awesome – featuring the chin himself and a hedge-trimming variant of the iconic arm chainsaw….. Groovy.