previews\ Jul 7, 2005 at 8:00 pm

MediEvil Resurrection - PSP - Preview 2

Ah, 100 years of peace, of songs that cast great choruses to the winds because it didn’t really matter how well they did on the charts, of great wines at affordable prices … Can there be anything better?

But, as in most tales featuring diabolical evil, the good times were not meant to last. And when you have an evil sorcerer messing with and re-animating the dead, well, that tends to put people off. So what better way to battle back than with a hero, who also happens to be dead – quite the conundrum, animating the dead to fight an evil undead whose crime is animating the dead – returned to defeat the same sorcerer he once defeated?

SCEA and Cambridge Studios are behind the PSP title, MediEvil Resurrection, a graphically pleasing title that has a few stumbles (at this point in the development) in the gameplay mechanics, but still is sprinkled generously with humor for an entertaining time.

It has been 100 years since the evil Zarok, once favored by the king of Gallowmere, was defeated by the mortally wounded Sir Daniel Fortesque. Zarok is back and raising an undead army to gain his revenge on Gallowmere. Fortesque is back as well, with a second chance to purge the world of Zarok’s evil.

MediEvil Resurrection is a gorgeous graphic experience, playing off the same look that thrilled moviegoers in Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. The three-dimensional world is somewhat linear in design, but the textures are wonderful and the color schemes play into the theme quite well.

The game does use a fair amount of arcade tools, with puzzles built in to draw players along. For example, early in the game your way is blocked by a giant boulder. You need a weapon to break it, as your arm (your first weapon is your left arm – Sir Daniel is back, but is a skeleton with a few fleshy bits) or even the sword you jump to acquire will not damage it. So you pick another path, defeat a few mobs, pick up a rune that unlocks a gate that leads to a club that can smash the boulder. However, do not become too attached to that club. It wears out, and you will need it down the line to smash other blocking boulders.

There are powerups to find, coins to collect to redeem at the minor demons for health potions and such, and some amusing little items to discover. Find the chalice, defeat enemies to fill it up with souls and redeem it for a free trip.

It is obvious that the developers placed tongue firmly in cheek when scripting this game.

But while only a preview build (the game does not release until mid-September), there are still stumbling points that may challenge the success of this title. The control scheme really needs to be worked a bit, especially considering that it is tied to a camera that is not overly responsive. As you maneuver Daniel down a path, you may wish to glance about for potential enemies. The camera, locked in an isometric view behind Daniel, does not turn and you end up have to tap the right shoulder control to swing it back in behind him. The D-pad and the analog thumbstick have the same function – movement. It may have been better to dedicate one of those controls to the camera, allowing a free look.

The basic controls do allow Daniel to collect and use items. You hit the select button to access his inventory, and items like health vials will be used when you find them. They are not overly plentiful, especially at the start of the game when the mobs are beating on you while you try to figure out how to control Daniel and angle in for the attack.

Of course, this game is still in development and we are months away from the release, so hopefully some of these issues will be addressed by then.

The game’s sound is a great support to the wonderful graphics. There is the pretense of sincerity, which comes off as silly and underscores the humor very well.

MediEvil Resurrection is, in some regards, a typical adventure game, but where it distinguishes itself is in the interplay of the humor, the sound and the terrific eye candy.

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