Serious Sam: The Second Encounter
One of these days, someone will write a really good ending for a FPS. After all, you think you'd be entitled to some sort of fanfare-ridden, stunningly rendered ten minute cut-scene which generally tells you how great you are, as means of a reward for being so damn heroic. Wouldn't you? But ooooooh no, that's too much to ask, isn't it, developers? Hmmm? You lazy bastards. I mean once you've saved the world from inevitable doom, rescued the human race from a hideous, subjugated existence and limped home, propped up against your rocket launcher and having had your nose blown off by a stray fragment of alien skull, all you're generally given is a 'well done' and an ill-thought-out ending. If you're lucky. No surprise then that that's exactly what you're given when you stagger your way through to the end of Serious Sam: The Second Encounter. Thankfully though, the preceding action is anything but disappointing.
Picking up from where Sam 'Serious' Stone, left off in his last, overly short outing, Serious Sam: The Second Encounter sees you dropped off in Egypt for a second dose of alien blasting. And that's about it as far as the plot goes. Which means all that's left for me to do now is to tell you about the action and that'll be me done. Serious Sam: The Second Encounter is a linear, fast-moving old school FPS in the mould of Doom. A superb engine is used to render massive open landscapes in which you engage dozens of rabid enemies at one time with an excellent selection of weaponry and power-ups, while solving a set of rudimentary puzzles. It provides excellent entertainment in small doses and is great fun in co-operative multiplayer. If you buy it, you'll enjoy it. That's it, I'm off home...
Wait a minute? You mean you want me to elaborate? Really? But I've told you pretty much everything there is to know. Like I said, it's a highly entertaining shooter, which is a slight improvement over the last game. What more is there to say? It looks nice. It's got great music... errr... etcetera. How about I just fill the rest of the space up with a self-indulgent rant about the games industry, a cynical train of thought about lack of originality and the bleakness of a society consumed by virtual worlds in a bid to escape its own. No? Shit. OK, here goes then...
Lets start with the Serious engine then, which - and let's be honest here - is what makes this game what it is. What sets it apart from the myriad of other linear shooters out there is that you're rarely pitted against just a handful of opponents. That's because the Serious engine doesn't just churn out stunning landscapes, it fills them to brimming point with legions of enemies who incessantly attack you until either you or they are dead. Scattered around these vistas are copious amounts of ammunition, health, armour and power-ups. It really is as simple and basic as that, but it doesn't claim to be anything else. And that's precisely why it's so entertaining. Don't believe me? Well shut your eyes (but not now so that you can't read this dummy) and picture this...
Seeing Is Believing
You enter a valley that funnels down to an open field housing three majestic temples. The sun beats down on you as you cautiously make your way forwards, growing ever more suspicious of a distant tremor that tarnishes the tranquillity that surrounds you. And then it happens. Just a couple of specs at first. Distant dots posing no real threat. Slowly they begin to loom, gradually metamorphosising into a sea of enemies. You quickly pick off a few with your sniper rifle. But there's too many of them. You unleash a spray of bullets from your mini-gun and watch the approaching foe disintegrate.
But still it's not enough. You switch to your flamethrower as they close in, charring them to a pile of blackened ashes as they rake at your eyes and throat In the clamour, they set fire to one another. Then suddenly, the unrelenting and predictable attacks are interrupted as two rockets thud into your back. Wheeling round, you see a wave of huge mechanised creatures (Bio-Mechanoids) stomping towards you. And you're down to just your shotgun. From above comes a squawk. You look, barely in time to wheel away from the aerial attacks of diving Harpies, dodging and weaving like a matador in a ringful of bulls, picking off enemies as they skid to a halt and lose their footing in a desperate attempt to turn and attack again, and cutting down every creature to finely chopped mince until once again you're left with nothing but the tranquillity of the scenery in front of you. I think you get the picture.
So what's changed from the first Serious Sam then? Well, I'm not going to lie to you, not a huge amount. A handful of new enemies (chainsaw-wielding madmen with pumpkin heads; devils that fire flaming balls of destruction etc.); a few new weapons and power-ups, the inclusion of simple puzzles, more multiplayer options and maps, reams of boring blurb about all of your enemies and about five or six times as much playing time. And that's about it. Puzzles usually come in the form of crude and easily negotiable traps, but while over-simplistic, they do add an amusing diversion from the action while remaining simple enough to prevent frustration. Most of these involve a modest grasp of timing and coordination to negotiate, while puzzles often constitute little more than jumping around in order to hit some switches, which allow passage to the next part of the game. However, one of the best parts of The Second Encounters its abundance of secrets which range from hidden areas rammed full of power-ups and ammo, to hilarious moments when you think you've uncovered something good, only to be attacked by a swarm of miniature ankle-butting werebulls, bio-mechanoids disguised as trees or rocket-firing snowmen.
There's also been some effort to make SS; The Second Encounter slightly less mindless. The inclusion of a sniper rifle gives you an alternative to simply rushing towards an enemy while emptying your load. Surveying a landscape from behind a rock with the sniper scope can often be beneficial, as it allows you to pick off powerful creatures without ever having to engage them face on. The flamethrower is another excellent addition to your arsenal, as once you set fire to an enemy, they'll keep burning till they're dead and set fire to any other creatures they come into contact with. Finally, there's a chainsaw (pretty self-explanatory really) and the Serious Bomb, which annihilates every creature in the vicinity, (useful, but hardly fun).
And that really is about all there is to say. The inevitable and unfeasibly large end-of-level bosses will have you momentarily worried, and the higher difficulty levels are just about impossible. But the simple fact remains that Serious Sam: The Second Encounter is little more than a longer version of the original with a couple of new ideas. And after you get over the novelty of having hundreds of enemies attacking you at once, and realise that that's fundamentally all the game has to offer in terms of thrills, you'll probably find you soon get bored if you play for too long on your own. Most of the enemies are identical to the first game, and they're not nearly varied enough for a game as repetitive as this.
It's hard not to think that this is the game the first one should have been, and is more of a director's cut than a true followup. It's ideal for a daily half-hour blast, excellent fun when played co-operatively and the frenetic action and the sheer scope of the battles are unparalleled by any other FPS. We've also been assured that it's going to ship for a mere $19.99 (after the last-minute price hike debacle of the previous game we asked for a cast iron guarantee), and you can't say fairer than that. Buy it, enjoy it, but whatever you do, don't expect anything groundbreaking or you'll end up sorely disappointed, and I don't just mean with the ending.
Download Serious Sam: The Second Encounter
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
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.
Throw in the "seriously" warped death match 3.0 and you have the best bang for your buck on any first person shooter, period.
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.
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.
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
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.