Serious Sam Next Encounter
Oh Sam, the memories we have. Who can forget our epic battle against the roomful of lightning-shooting cacodemons or our after-school visits to the strip club? Oh, wait, wrong hero. But not by much-- Sam's latest console adventure seriously smacks of classic shooters such as Doom and Duke Nukem. Is that bad? Well, how's this sound to you: Every time you enter a room, you'll need to dispense of a wave of enemies. Every time you pick up a shiny object, another wave appears. Every time you grab a cannonball gun, oh you better believe that's another wave. Don't get me wrong, this can be fun what with the fast action, simple yet smooth graphics, responsive controls, some multiplayer and online shenanigans, and big, tough bosses. But things certainly get repetitive, and while the first half of a level may elicit that corridor-shooting thrill you first experienced in 1994, the second half will undoubtedly drag. Serious Sam: Next Encounter isn't a great game--it's a homage to the games we thought were great a decade ago.
Boogers with legs? Awesome! Exploding nerds? Haha! Gameplay creakier than 10-year-old Doom clones? Brilliant! Serious Sam--a shooter as cutting edge as a calculator wrist-watch--has all those things. But it's still fun in that l-hope-no-one-sees-me-playing-this kinda way. It's just a dumb, colorful, hyperactive experience that lulls you into a never-stop-shooting stupor with its goofball enemies that swarm from every direction, even dropping from the sky. And it's only 20 bucks--you get exactly what you pay for.
Serious Sam tosses atmosphere and ambience out the window in favor of a simple rule: Shoot anything that moves. It won't take long for more cannon fodder to arrive, either. Hordes of ill-conceived enemies seem to spawn every 20 paces, locking on to your jock like mice to a buffet of delicious cheeses. Ten years ago this balls-out approach might've been considered fresh, but today it feels like an empty stereotype of the genre's past. Some might dig its old-school vibe, but I'll take a pass.