Whaaaaaaagh!! Yeah that’s right, Sam is back! I enjoyed both the original Serious Sam as well as Second Encounter, and although there are a few minor changes, Serious Sam 2 lives up to its previous greatness. Croteam stays true to the comedic, sometimes bizarre, world and story creations just like in the past.
The worlds are full of colorful splendor and thousands of NPCs to kill. You are still up against MENTAL and its forces of evil, and fans will quickly recognize the Kleer, Gnaar, Harpies, and Orc soldiers. You don’t actually fight any Gnaar in Serious Sam 2, but they make guest appearances. Serious Sam has always played a unique role in the gamut of FPS titles that have existed in the past as well as today.
The worlds of Serious Sam 2 are beautiful, lush, and usually very bizarre mixing almost every gaming genre out there. Game worlds range from fantasy RPG looking type worlds to lava rock filled worlds that look like they come straight out of DOOM. Serious Sam titles have never spared using the complete array of colors known to man, and Serious Sam 2 is no different. The scale of the “giant land” world was amazing, and you felt like you were on the set of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Each world and object is very detailed. This is aided by the over-abundance of colors that are used.
All of the weapons in Serious Sam 2 are very detailed and very big. Shotgun shells and shell casings fill the air as you crank off millions of rounds each captured in brilliant detail. The devastation that occurs spares no blood trail or fiery explosion. You can very quickly see the sharpness of each type of ammo or beastie thrown, fired, or running your way.
The cut-scenes use the same graphics engine that the game is rendered in, and although this looks great for the game, it kind of looks cheesy during all the movies. Some of them were just flat out grainy looking. The past titles employed the same techniques, but when you try and compare them to the great cgi treats we are shown in some other titles of today you feel a little bit cheated of the experience.
Sound is used very effectively in Serious Sam 2. You are provided nice, calm and soothing music when there are no NPCs around, but as soon as they appear the music changes to a fast paced rock rhythm. This is very helpful in determining when you have cleared an area, or when you have to switch to FPS run and gun mode.
Each NPC has unique true to life sound effects. One example would be the mechanical yet prehistoric sounds of missile toting dinosaurs. Another would be the horse gallop that the Kleer make as they charge toward you. The Football Orcs, which I hated the most, make “hut” and “groan” noises that you would typically hear watching NFL football on TV.
Character speech is just as detailed as the graphics. The main story is unfolded and told by two older gentlemen that resemble the Jewish elders that Billy Crystal made so famous. The other part of the story telling trio resembles Jackie Brown. Sam even performs a rendition of The Warriors scene where David Patrick Kelly playing Luther chants, “Warriors, come out to playay.” In this case Sam smashes two bones together and recites, “Kleer, come out to playay.” The game is filled with homages to a highly comedic and sometimes moronic level, but you can’t help but laugh.
The control of Serious Sam 2 is what I would deem perfect! Of course, the standard FPS WASD setup is used, but is completely customizable to anyone’s taste. Most FPS fans will feel right at home with the default settings, and I did not change a thing. Each number corresponds to a different weapon or weapon group like dual Uzis or the Minigun, and you can use your scroll button to move through your choices quickly.
You also have the use of the “F” keys to load, save, or record a demo. What is this demo you say? The game offers the ability for you to record all your heroic action for later review. Simply hit the “F7” key and away you go. When you have finished capturing what you want simply hit the “F8” key. It is a great way to sit back and watch all the action without having to be concerned about dying.
Whether you are jumping, running, or usually running and firing, the controls are precise and rock solid. Each of your jumps will go as far as you think they would, and when you line something up for the kill the reticle lets you know. I never had trouble hitting anything I wanted to target. The game also lets you interact with certain objects in the game so that you can get to all those secret areas, and movement of those items was very similar to using the gravity gun in Half-Life 2.
Serious Sam 2 is just a whole lot of fun. It is dedicated to one thing and one thing only, blowing s#*t up! You are served up wave after wave of NPCs of all varying types. Anything your imagination could dream up is pretty much in the game. Many of which you will remember if you have played the other titles. The mega fights are separated by periods of silence for some exploration of the area, and also to get your heartbeat down to 60 again.
Exploration isn’t as massive as it was in the past, however. The game had areas of where you could explore for secrets but you couldn’t go that far. I remember the older titles and how you could run and run and run and still never approach the object in the background. It seemed like the world was 50 miles in either direction. The lack of this past approach made Serious Sam 2 somewhat linear. There is a good mixture of outside and underground worlds to explore. As the game stated, every game has a sewer level and even royal poo stinks.
There are plenty of secret areas in the game to find many offering up all the goodies you might imagine would be in those type places. One of the levels penalized you for exploring, however, by making you take damage. I hate that in a game. Put up your pseudo barriers and walls to stop me, but don’t make me take damage. After all, games are meant to be explored. I took five points right off the top for that.
The main focus is to recover 5 pieces of a medallion, and a huge boss guards each piece. Bosses require special tactics and usually require the use of special weapons made available in the boss’s arena. Once you get all five it’s off to the finale at planet Sirius and its moon. There are parts of the game where you also use vehicles in FPS mode to fly around and kill the forces of MENTAL.
The gameplay is broken up with comical cut-scenes of the completely wacky nature. I won’t list them here so that I don’t spoil too much of the spontaneity of it all. Rest assured you will find yourself smiling and laughing at the outrageous antics.
Multi-player is a great way to have some fun with friends or people you have never met before via the GameSpy network. You can also play via LAN. Up to 16 players can play together, but my experience was not that enjoyable when it went above 4 on the server. I also found it very hard to find servers to play on. The multi-player for this game is surely outdone by the likes of recent releases of Call of Duty 2, Battlefield 2, and DoD Source to name a few.
Serious Sam 2 is definitely a great buy if you like the FPS genre with a comedic and colorful spin. It is a refreshing break away from all the great but repetitive World War 2 FPS titles that are out today. Serious Sam 2 offers five different levels of difficulty, including a tourist mode, which allows one to play through without even a threat of being killed. Of course no self-respecting FPS player will play the game on anything less than normal, but if you know someone that is just trying to break into and get use to this type of game it is a good way to initially learn, and get acquainted with it.
After you beat the game you are able to load any level from your profile and play it again. Your profile also houses your stored demos for your review, and it is a lot of fun to watch your battles. The use of profiles allows multiple people to have their own games available in cases where different people in a household want to play, or you can use them to separate your multi-player from your single player games.
Serious Sam 2 is really fun to play even though the single player is rather short. On normal mode it took me only 16 plus hours to complete, but it’s 16 hours of pure enjoyment. I installed the retail patch prior to starting the game, and I didn’t experience any bugs in the game.