Review: Serious Sam: Next Encounter
Posted 26 May 2004 at 08:27 by Bas Oosterveld
From the moment Serious Sam was introduced for PC by Croatian developers CroTeam it was very obvious that this FPS shouldn't rely on its innovative gameplay. "Simplicity" was its motto; some might even say it was a shameless rip-off with a blink to Duke Nukem with the corky one-liners and its superficial gameplay. Still a lot of gamers embraced this title, enough to release more games with Serious Sam: Next Encounter as its latest, enfant terrible.
Play with the cool guns some more:
Keeping the pretense short, there is a disturbance in the time-space flux and earth scientists believe that the evil Mental organization is behind it. No other than Sam "Serious" Stone, has the task to find out what happened.
Needless to say, Serious Sam is continuing its course on the console of being a linear action packed straightforward shooter. So no stealth operations, no difficult find-the key puzzles or any signs of subtlety. So what's in it then? Well, what you get is score combos, some vehicle missions and even a little platform action for alteration. The score medal elements used in the game are intended to maximize the replay value a bit in single player mode.
Also new is the super combo mode which activates at twenty consecutive kills. When this happens Sam can move faster, his weaponry becomes more powerful and the score doubles for each killed enemy. Although this certainly is a fun element it is not like we haven't seen this before.
There are four difficulty levels in this game, and even on normal difficulty you will have your hands full with the endless supply of enemies. The few bosses in the game can be very frustrating, and I have a broken controller to back that up. Luckily you can adjust the difficulty for each level you play should things get a little too hot for you.
Double the gun, double the fun:
Best part of the game has to be the cooperative multiplayer in which you can go through the single mode story together with a friend. Besides that there is the opportunity to play a couple of multiplayer games up to 4 players. These are death match, hold the flag and pass the bomb where in the latter one is given a bomb and he has to pass it to another player before it goes off. Could be fun.
The mayhem takes place in different time areas like ancient Rome, ancient China and even Atlantis. Although the levels are vast with lots of wide open areas, the graphics are absolutely mediocre. There are hardly lighting or shadow effects, the character models are blunt and crude and the gore used for cruelty effects is far from impressive. On the positive side one can say that the frame rate is steady and load times are short, so that certainly counts for something.
Okay, the last thing which needs to be discussed is the control system. We all know that first person shooters and gamepads aren't best friends and Serious Sam is no exception. To compensate this one could have a target lock or in this case, an auto aim(which can be shut off). That and a very forgivable accuracy make up for the little flaws of a gamepad controller. Playing the game may look like child's play now but you will learn that this is not the case, simply because the huge amount of enemies that keep coming from all directions. And that can be a little overwhelming.
Serious Sam's advantage for the cube is that it hasn't too much competition. That and the sharp price of €30 in Europe could be worth the purchase if you want to play a FPS on your cube. If you can look beyond the dated graphics, the basic gameplay model and of course if shooters are your thing, then you are in for quite some fun, and that's what it is all about really.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Not for easily irritated people.