Serious Sam: The Second Encounter

a game by Gathering
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 8/10, based on 1 review
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Overview

When God was handing out guts, Sam "Serious" Stone must have punched out the three guys behind him so he could have theirs too. A good thing, since Sam is our last hope of staving off an inter-dimensional, time traveling, fire spewing, kamikaze, headless horde of fireball throwing, missile shooting, gattling gun blazing, bomb tossing aliens bent on world domination. Stick our hero in the middle of ancient Babylon and light a fire under his keester to watch him rip through the thousands (literally) of monsters that will try and stop him.

Add to this mix the plethora of weapons of mass destruction that are at Sam's disposal and you have the ingredients of a very fun game. Get your trigger finger ready, 'cause Sam's missed lunch and he sure as hell isn't gonna miss dinner.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

This entire review is written to reflect the multiplayer aspect of this game, as it is a game that is best played cooperatively with your friends.

In case you missed it, Serious Sam: The First Encounter was a bona fide hit in the world of PC gamers. With a price point of $19.99, the bang for the buck was phenomenal. This was quality title that left players thirsty for more action, carnage and other wacky gameplay.

Serious Sam the Second Encounter (SS) picks up right where the first game leaves off, with Sam hijacking a spaceship so he can go dish out some pain against his alien archenemy, "Mental." But Sam's adventures on Earth are merely beginning after a crazy group of aliens rams Sam's ship forcing him to crash. After getting his bearings, Sam does what he (and you) do best: shoot alien scum.

SS is a first person shooter (emphasis on shooter) where the action comes fast and furious. Since this game is tailor made for cooperative play, it really helps to have a couple of friends join an online game that you have logged onto and/or are hosting. The first thing that you will notice, provided you have a decent graphics card, is the scale of the game. And when I say scale, I'm talking about the enormity of the environments and bad guys you will face. Imagine if you will, running into a gigantic open field that is easily a mile across, then, some 1000 yards away, a massive alien demon rounds the bend and focuses on you. Just as you begin to take aim at this hulking monstrosity, no kidding, a hundred smaller monsters come running at you from the opposite direction. Again, it helps to have several friends online with you fighting these odds, since you will undoubtedly be killed 20 times during this melee.

Veterans of the first person shooter will have an easy time configuring the controls to their liking as they are fully customizable. Me personally, I usually attach the previous/next weapon function to my mouse wheel for quick weapons changes. Often, I would employ the always-versatile flamethrower when surrounded by bad guys and then whip out the rocket launcher or alien laser gun when tackling larger baddies that were further away. And you can even use a cannonball launcher that's so huge you have to see it to believe it. Trust me, with over a dozen weapons at your disposal, dishing out the pain is easy.

As far as power ups go, there are several "very" necessary ones. My own gaming tip: if you see a power up just sitting there, grab it quickly as it usually is a precursor for some nasty set of circumstances about to unfold upon you. The same way of thinking can be applied to the finding of gigantic caches of ammunition. Any time you stumble across one of these plentitudes, you can expect things to go from bad to worse in a hurry.

Bosses and mini bosses sometimes appear when you least expect them. At one point I remember activating a switch that was behind a pyramid. Little did I know or expect, the pyramid then crumbled and two 150' demons appeared and attempted to turn me into a little crimson smear on the ground.

The downside to all this action is that there really isn't an engaging storyline or plot. It is basically one crazy battle after another with simplistic keys and traps thrown in to make it feel like you are accomplishing something. Not to mention that after a couple of hours it does tend to get a bit old with all that shooting and shooting and shooting and then more shooting.

Yes, you can play this game on one player, but trust me; the real fun is the coop play. I have played this game with several sets of friends and I never cease to find hidden rooms and special items that are littered all over the game, I've started it 4 different times and still haven't found everything on the very first set of levels.

Multiplayer support/experience

Throw in the "seriously" warped death match 3.0 and you have the best bang for your buck on any first person shooter, period.

Graphics

These guys at Croteam sure know what they are doing. You can not only play as Sam, but as any number of other weird looking characters like the cowboy, the alien, the 70's disco dancer, etc. They are all friends of Sam and they all look funny.

As far as Mental's aliens go, wow! I was literally floored with the quality skins and appearance. If they keep topping themselves with these awesome looking and smoothly framed bad guys, Serious Sam the 7th encounter is going to win the Nobel Gaming prize for coolest looking shooter (okay, we all know that there's no Nobel Gaming prize...you get my drift).

The environments are also on par for perfection. Bright colors and incredibly tight detail make me wonder what these guys are thinking charging such a cheap price for such a fine looking game. Do me a favor, look out you back window at that tree'as far as I am concerned the trees and other foliage in SS look better than the real thing. The structures are authentically replicated as well and seem to go on forever in some cases. Each time I would enter a new area I had to look around quickly so I could appreciate how well everything looked before some scorpion mutant with a chain gun tried to give me a lead enema.

Audio

Sam sometimes says one-liners like a certain other super-hero-type-gun-toting-madman we're all familiar with. Usually they are pretty funny and sometimes they are downright wrong. Whoever voiced Sam certainly has a future in the voiceover market, a deep bass voice that just throttles with machismo.

Explosions, machineguns, demon androids shorting out, this sounds like an action movie. Of course I do have a surround sound system hooked up to my computer and I can honestly say I don't remember a game that gave my speakers as good a workout. I even found myself turning down the volume because it was almost overwhelming.

My favorite part of the audio though, was the action music. It came up as the action started and kept rocking until all the bad guys were meat. After playing for a while you notice that it really adds to the whole gaming experience and fires you up with adrenaline.

Documentation

I don't even remember seeing any documentation. Not that you would need any, however, as everything is explained in the controls section. Most importantly, you just need to know that by default, the trigger is mapped to the left mouse button. Everything else is secondary and trivial.

System Requirements Recommended

650 MHz processor
128 MB RAM
Third generation full OpenGL or DirectX8 3D graphics card with 32 MB RAM

Bottom Line

There is no better (new) game that is worth the money. I would easily have paid a full $50.00 for the fun that I have had with my friends online. At $19.99 and even $9.99 at some places you actually cannot afford to not buy this game. It is so impressive graphically and it's such a straight-up fun game. Not many can say that you will be smiling ear to ear within the first few minutes out of the box, but with this one, you can. Since it appears that we may never see the next Duke Nukem, I nominate Serious Sam as the heir apparent to the alien ass-kicking throne.

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