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Army of Darkness Defense

Army of Darkness was a film that had many viewings in my teenage years, following my obsession with Evil Dead 2. We’d heard of an impending sequel but due to the lack of the Evil Dead title almost missed it. One afternoon my Dad returned home with a rental copy. There was much rejoicing.

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Skip forward to present day and we have a tower-defence game based upon the final act in the The Evil Dead trilogy. Playing the role of Bruce Campbell’s Ashley Williams, you need to plan the defence of the Necronomicon from those pesky Deadites, who, through a disagreement with our hero Ash over correct pronunciation, have been resurrected from their humble abode.

As soon as the title screen loads, the recognisable music theme from the movie blasts out. Hello nostalgia. Dialogue is sampled from throughout the movie, including many of Ash’s smart-arse remarks and battle cries of King Arthur’s men. Visually it features a crisp, Flash-esqe animation style that is popular among iPhone titles for its style and ease of use.

Before each of the fifty waves, you can use gold to purchase new units or upgrades, as well as choosing who you’ll take into battle. And here was the first issue: at the bottom of the screen is a ‘Buy’ button. Tapping it brings up a new window where you can exchange real money for in-game coins. This is a practice that I frown upon, and one that became more problematic later on.

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All of the units, weapons and Deadites are taken straight from the film. Peasants – the cheapest unit – can be accompanied by a Sword Boy, catapults can be bought, The Pit opened to knock the undead into, and Ash’s weapons can be used. This is a complete fan service.

What makes this different to other tower-defence games is that you have full control of Ash during the battle. Standing at a distance will have Ash fire his Boomstick, while getting up close will cut down the enemy with his trusty – and now pretty rusty – chainsaw. You can even call in arrows or a custom Oldsmobile Delta Royale car to the cries of ‘Welcome to the 21st Century!’. While fighting you also need to spend resources to build friendly forces to back you up.

The Blacksmith generates resources to be spent on allies during each wave. Slaying the enemy brings the occasional reward of additional gold coins and iron. The units are varied, all of them based upon characters from the movie. Archers have little health but stand back and unleash volleys of arrows, Swordmen are the standard unit and even Henry the Red can be called in to smash a few skulls. All of whom can be further upgraded to boost their stats. There’s plenty to choose from and invest in.

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It can become repetitive as the same level loops, the difficulty increasing. Variation in the level background could have recreated many other scenes from the film, such as defending the three books or the windmill. Even with the repetition, it’s an enjoyable fight through each wave and the controls are well implemented on the touchscreen. Then the first difficulty spike pokes you in the backside; quite violently too. There are now two choices: grind the same level to guaranteed failure until you amass the gold to upgrade or exchange real money to breeze through the enemy army.

This comes back to my initial concern about the ‘Buy’ feature. It’s not an issue if it doesn’t affect game balance but when it does then there is cause for concern. Other than this gripe, it’s a great game. But be warned, there’ll be inevitable frustration if you aren’t prepared to hand over additional money.

7 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is the Deputy Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in December 2010. Get in touch on Twitter @shaneryantb.

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