Seven years ago, PlayStation owners were introduced to an unlikely hero: An undead knight fighting to defeat the armies of darkness and their leader, a nefarious wizard. Packing a sharp sword and an even sharper wit, MediEvil and its sequel appeared to be doomed to obscurity, having been severely overlooked by consumers back then. Fortunately, gamers are getting another chance to enter the skewed world of Sir Daniel Fortesque, thanks to the PSP. Feel that magic in the air? Might be the spell cast from MediEvil Resurrection.
For those of you who played the original, you’ll be relatively accustomed to the storyline, since the plot of Resurrection is virtually the same, although with a number of changes. For the rest of you, here’s the basic idea of the game. You play as Sir Daniel Fortesque, a knight of the kingdom of Gallowmere who fell in battle while defeating the evil sorcerer Zarok. At least, that’s the story that all of Gallowmere knows. In reality, Dan was a coward that was felled by an arrow to the eye at the very beginning of the fray. Although the wizard was eventually defeated that day, he vowed that he’d return. Well, time’s passed, the wizard has resurrected himself, along with an army of undead, and is threatening to destroy the kingdom once again. Luckily, Sir Dan has also been raised, and takes it upon himself to fulfill the tale he’s attributed to, putting an end to Zarok once and for all.
Of course, this requires Dan to cut his way through Zarok’s forces before you can put him six feet under again. Although he isn’t a great warrior, he does have some abilities that he can use against his enemies. First of all, he has a strong and a weak attack, which can be strung together into a number of combos or charged for stronger blows. He’ll also acquire a number of ranged and melee weapons over the course of his adventures, such as swords, clubs, throwing daggers and spears. Many of these he’ll acquire during his trip to the Hall of Heroes, a reward from dispatching 100% or more souls on one level and collecting them in a chalice. Some of these armaments will serve multiple purposes, such as setting clubs on fire to open doors or hammers to smash through walls. What’s more, Dan will be able to charge foes with a rushing attack that can easily destroy them. You’re not completely defenseless either, as you can pick up a shield to deflect incoming blows. To also compensate for the transition over to the PSP, Dan has the ability to lock onto a target and strafe around until it’s killed.
You’ll need all of these abilities when you’re traveling through the game’s nineteen different locals. Each one has a number of different themes or locals, so you get the sense that you’re actually traveling through a diverse land. You’ll make your way between cemeteries, insane asylums and deserted towns as you track down the objects you’ll need to eliminate Zarok. Along the way, you’ll also pick up a number of “mini-games” that you’ll be able to indulge yourself in during the single player campaign and as separate diversionary play. Many of these come across as carnival fare, including a “Whack-A-Mole” style game, a shooting gallery and a herding challenge. Players will also notice that Resurrection features competitive play for a level via Ad-hoc connections.
The biggest standout of the game is MediEvil’s sound. The voice acting is sublime, with a great sense of comic timing and delivery on the part of every single person that contributed to the title. It might be worth noting that since Sony’s European division developed MediEvil, the influence of Monty Python is readily apparent. From Dan’s muffled voice to the quirky comments from the merchants and the sneer from Zarok, this is a rich world that strays in and out of the goofy realm easily and believably. For instance, hearing the mayor stand up to Zarok, telling him that he won’t deliver the object the sorcerer seeks because it’s an election year is hilarious. The music is great as well, evoking a sense of spookiness and action during each level.
The impressive quality of the sound is limited somewhat by the graphics of the game. Arguably, you are playing a port from the original PlayStation to the PSP, so there are some muddy textures that pop up here and there, along with some jaggies. However, for the most part, the game comes across much sharper than the original, with more attention paid to enemies and environments. You actually get a sense that you’re going up against a number of different opponents, from shambling zombies to insane asylum patients and even hell hounds, to name a few. However, the largest hit that hampers Resurrection itself is the camera work in the game. While it can give you a decent perspective in most areas, when it comes to combat, it leaves much to be desired. Performing a lock onto a target can easily confuse the camera at times, especially if you’re getting swarmed by a large number of enemies. What’s more, you’ll find that in close, confined areas (such as the asylum and the church), you’ll often get attacked from offscreen and not be able to see where the threats are coming from. Even worse, there are some elements where you’ll need to make accurate jumps, and the camera doesn’t necessarily accommodate you the way you want it to.
Apart from the camera issues, you’ve got a significant problem with the combat system. Moving Dan via the analog nub is definitely not advisable, because you won’t have as much control over him as you would with the directional pad. When you combine this with the inconsistent camera system, it makes it somewhat difficult to start attacking enemies. Once you do, however, you might as well throw the running lunge out of the tactical playbook. It’s slow to trigger, hard to aim, and leaves you open to counterattacks by anything waiting to strike you. You may also find that you’ll abandon charging up attacks in favor of flailing at your opponents, because you’re not guaranteed a clean hit either way. It’s possible to get damaged on every single swing towards an enemy, because of a collision detection scheme that sometimes registers when a legit blow has landed.
These issues aren’t solely limited to the melee weapons. You’ll find just as many issues with the ranged attacks, which, like the lunge, are slow, hard to aim and easily avoided. In fact, by the time you’ve launched the daggers, thrown a spear or fired an arrow, your target has moved out of its path, unless it’s charging towards you. You can’t lead the enemy either, especially because of how random their movements are. Further complicating this is the fact that there’s no easy way to switch weapons without moving through a clumsy menu system, so you’ll frequently just stick with one weapon until you’re forced to change to accomplish some goal, like breaking a boulder. Leaving the combat realm and the single player campaign behind, the mini-games are full of replay value, and you can easily spend hours playing these games. However, the ad hoc mode leaves much to be desired. I’m particularly speaking about the race mode, which doesn’t need to be included at all. All you do is race through a level hitting checkpoints before you get to an exit. Not only can you not see your competitor, your only indication of where they are is by a meter that lets you know if you’re in the lead or not. This is extremely boring and not engaging at all.
Personally, I have to admit to missing this gaming franchise. It’s a great series with well-paced humor, an interesting premise and a likeable Everyman kind of hero. MediEvil Resurrection does a great step towards returning Sir Dan to gaming prominence by reintroducing the title to a new platform, along with packing in a ton of mini-games that are truly engaging. However, the camera issues and combat problems complicate this version of Sir Dan’s adventures, making this one less than perfect, but more than adequate as a basic platformer.