Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Serious Sam

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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)

bomb.JPG (1894 bytes)The Xbox quickly became the serious gamer’s only choice when looking for First-Person-Shooters. The only major rivalry Gates’ black box has had since the release of Halo has been that of the frankly amazing Metroid Prime, which isn’t as much of an FPS as it as an FPA (First-Person-Adventure). So, having moved on from the chaotic destruction of Red Faction II, the intensity of Halo and the spooky sci-fi of Deus Ex: Invisible War where do we turn for our blasting relaxation? To the total nonsense all-out-mash-‘em-up of Serious Sam of course!

            PC gamers may already be familiar with this title, as it is a port of the PC release Serious Sam: The Second Encounter. Yes, true, the PC title is getting on a bit now, but that’s no reason to have a grudge against this port before beginning. The title is pure shooting. Out-and-out blasting action from start to finish and, thankfully, it never tries to take itself seriously, with occasional moments of black comedy and an elaborate storyline which never tries to present itself as reasonable or logical, again, thankfully. Split into five chapters, the game transpires through five (incredibly similar) timelines, each featuring their own boss to fight, most of which are fantastic fun, but one in particular I felt became quite tiresome.

            The scope of level design is quite refreshing. Basic levels consist of rooms built for stand-off shooting, pinning down the enemy in corners, or the staple requirement running around blasting-everything-before-they-blast-you arenas, which happen to be a particular speciality of the Serious Sam franchise. Later levels will reveal more depth, such as ice and glazed floors for you to glide across, collapsing floors, no-gravity chambers and skate-ramp type affairs. Cool. The game does feature puzzles to solve in order to progress, but these are rarely taxing and you will have often collected the item needed before actually realising you needed it! The weapons also cover a large variety of destructive possibilities, with personal favourites being the Missile Launcher, Flamethrower, Canon and, of course, the Double-Barrelled Shotgun.

            The variety of enemies is pleasing, but many of them feel like they’ve been made from an identi-kit, ala Phantasy Star Online: Episode I. The result is still some very pleasing kills, and the game cannot be knocked for its ability to handle ridiculous amounts of enemies on screen at any one time. With that, I can also say that the draw distance in the game is praise-worthy, as is the frame-rate at which most of the game runs at.

            The titles graphics aren’t exactly revolutionary, as you’d imagine from a game released two years ago, ported from a PC release, but they are solid and compliment the game efficiently, with the only real downfall being the occasional drops in frame-rate, and the frankly shoddy work on the later levels resulting in some polygonal pop-up. Disgraceful! The animation is smooth, but then the enemies appear to have been designed to limit this frustration as best as possible. The sound is average Xbox fodder, with occasionally amusing, but more often annoying, sound-bites from the serious one himself.

            The package is far from disappointing, with more than enough levels to keep you occupied for at least a month, coupled with the Multi-player mode you can’t knock the titles’ longevity. The game is about pure blasting fun, and that’s what it delivers. There is no stealth, no real tactics and certainly no clear mission objective, Serious Sam is filling the gap that’s been left in the absence of the king of brash, no-brainer FPS’s on this generation of home consoles, Duke Nukem. The title shows much appreciation for Quake II, and this has by no means had a bad effect on the game.Electronic Theatre Image




















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