Serious Sam: The First Encounter
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9  |  Don't mess with Serious Sam
Ash216 , 5/7/2003 4:49:39 PM
Back in the early 90s a game came out that changed what I expected of videogames. That game was Doom II. (Yes, I must have been under a rock or something when Doom I came out). Doom II had a level of sheer action, excitement and violence that I had never seen before. There were parts of Doom II where there are so many enemies on the screen that you thought that there was no possible way you would live through the level. You were literally on the edge of your seat wondering if you could kill all the enemies before your invulnerability powerup ran out. I spent hours in front of that computer screen playing games like Doom II and Heretic while I should have been doing research or homework. Those games exuded a sense of pure action and exhilaration that you rarely find in a game these days.

I am here to tell you that the spirit of Doom II is alive and well in Serious Sam. I will admit that this review is partly an attempt to spread the word on a game that I think has been wrongfully ignored. From the first level, I was hooked. The minimal plot in Serious Sam exists as a flimsy excuse to toss a badass marine named Sam Stone into various Egyptian-like environments and fight hundreds of gruesome monsters at a time. I can’t really be sure, but I think there is time travel involved. The plot really is irrelevant as this game is built for action. You start off with a knife and a revolver and in standard shooter fashion, you find various weapons through your travels. Weapons include shotguns, submachine gun, chain gun, rocket launcher, grenade launcher and some sort of laser weapon. There are about 10 or 15 different kinds of enemies that appear in very, very high quantities. The action is furious and non-stop. While there is generally enough health and ammo powerups to get you through a level, you will never be quite sure you will make it. The quicksave function is definitely your friend. There are also the obligatory boss monsters and rudimentary puzzles, but all of that is secondary to the action.

Another positive aspect of the game is that it does not take itself seriously. Everything about the game has a sense of humor, from the monster design to the Duke Nukem-like wisecracks from Sam. The graphics are good, and the environments are very easy on the eyes, especially the outdoor areas. The game runs well on a pretty low end system (PII, 450, geforce2) with some occasional slowdown when the action gets really hairy. Also worth mentioning is the multiplayer side of the game. There is a standard deathmatch, which is pretty good, but for more fun, there is a cooperative mode where up to 16 people can log in and fight the hoards of monsters together. The co-op mode is outstanding, and I have only played with one other person over the internet. There are many public servers out there chock full of people slugging it out. I wish developers would do this more with shooters. The two games where I have played a co-op mode (Halo and Serious Sam), have both been great fun. I personally like co-op even better than deathmatch.

So if you are looking for a game with tons of action, not much plot at a great value, this game is for you. This game retailed for $19.95 when it was released. You can probably find it in the bargain bin for 10 bucks now. While the game is thin on plot and a little short, it is an outstanding value and the co-op will have you coming back for more.

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