Saturday, October 22, 2011

Serious Sam - The First Encounter

Croteam and GOD Games deliver one of the greatest FPS's of all time!

  I remember the days when Wolfenstein 3D and Doom were the must-haves for any respectable PC gamer. The concept of those games was simple: If it moved, SHOOT IT!!!  Now, everyone seems to be cranking out FPS's, and only a few of them get it right. Games like Unreal, Halo, and Half-Life are considered the pinacles of the FPS genre. These games combine action with an impelling story and out of this world weaponry. Then a new guy came to town. His name? Serious Sam. It may sound like a corny name, but the game is anything but corny. Serious Sam is hailed as the King of the Bargain Bins, costing only $19.99 at most stores. Serious Sam takes FPS's back to their roots, back to a time when the story took a backseat to the non-stop action.

GRAPHICS: GOD Games and Croteam took the initiative and developed a whole new graphics engine for this game, called the 'Serious Engine'. All I can say is WOW!! The game contains wonderfully rendered levels on a massive scale. The game takes place in ancient Egypt, and the land of the pyramids never looked prettier. Several of the real-life locations are beautifully rendered. 

The cutscenes are brief, but all run very smoothly.  One of the greatest aspects of the game is its ability handle several dozen enemies on the screen at a time without any slowdown. The glare from the sun on the camera during the day and starry night sky, complete with a beautiful nebula is absolutely gorgeous. Croteam and GOD Games held nothing back when they designed this beauty.

GAMEPLAY: Serious Sam is without a doubt one of the funnest FPS's of all time. One nice thing about the game is the addition of NetRicia, your computerized companion throughout the game. She acts as your guide and an onscreen manual, giving you detailed information about every new area you come to, every enemy, and all the weapons. She also points you in the right direction when you complete one task and are ready to start another. There are ten weapons in the game, most of them pretty standard, and one that you have to see to believe. The weapons include a combat knife, two six shooters, a pump action shotgun, a double barreled elephant gun, a tommy gun, a chain gun, a personal missile launcher, a grenade launcher, a quadbarrel laser cannon, and a cannon. You heard right, you get an honest to goodness pirate cannon that fires uranium filled cannon balls at your foes. It is by far the most destructive weapon in the game. 

Now for the best part, the action. Serious Sam is a non-stop action game from beginning to end. Each level contains at least 400-500 enemies each, and over 2500 enemies in the entire game.  You won't take more than two steps at times before 30-40 enemies are dropped on once. Probably one of the most entertaining parts of the game are the arena areas. These are massive areas where you face off against wave after wave of enemies. In most FPS's, you have to conserve ammo. Not in Serious Sam. Ammo is scattered everywhere, which is good, because you'll need every last shotgun shell you can find to fend off the thirty plus beheaded kamikaze bombers that are running after you screaming at the top of their lungs. 

STORY: People say there's not much of a story here, but they're wrong. There is a very deep story that explains Sam's trip to the past and his one-man war against an army of aliens. Way off in mankind's future, in the ruins of ancient Egypt, evidence of a highly technologically advanced alien civilization is discovered. Man uses this alien technology to travel deep into space and colonize other worlds. 

Then, without warning, merciless aliens from another dimension start literally appearing out of nowhere and wiping out colony after colony, conquering world after world until mankind is pushed back to Earth.  Sam 'Serious' Stone is one of the greatest human warriors. He has fought hoards of the aliens and never lost a battle. 

Knowing there is no other choice, the world leaders decide to use the timelock, another of the alien artifacts that can send one person back through time. They choose to send Sam back to ancient Egypt to find out who the aliens were that lived there, and discover what the aliens that are attacking Earth want.  The story then continues in between battles in the form of cutscenes and text messages from NetRicia. On the way, you'll learn some history about ancient Egypt. But again, Serious Sam is all about the action, the story is good, but just takes a backseat to it. 

SOUND: What would a hardcore action shooter be without music to kick butt by? Serious Sam has many excellent tracks, and uses them to let you know when a batch of baddies are about to be dropped on you. There are several types ranging from heavy-metal type action music, to mysterious-like Egyptian tunes, to the final battle music. It's probably got one of the best soundtracks for FPS that I've ever heard. Another great addition is hearing Sam spout out smart ass remark throughout the game. This is reminicent to Duke Nukem 3D, but the difference is that Sam isn't simply quoting Ash from 'Evil Dead' the whole game like Duke does. Sam does things ranging from whistling 'Singing in the Rain' while walking through a storm to saying 'AAAAAAAAAAAAA, yourself!!' after first encountering the screaming kamikaze bombers. 

REPLAY: There are secrets to be had in every level, ranging from finding powerful weapons early in the game, super-charged health items, and the weirdest having to be finding the developing team locked in a room and having them run after you and introduce themselves. There are also two secret levels that you can find. Both of them are really fun and very challenging. The main reason you'll want to come back to this game is to just fire off that cannon of yours over and over again. 


OVERALL: Serious Sam proves that you don't have to have a massive in depth epic story or tons of futuristic weapons to have a good FPS. No Plasma Beam Cannon will ever be the same as turning an enemy into a smear on the wall with a good ol' fashion double barreled shotgun. 




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