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Serious Sam Review

publisher: Gathering
developer: Croteam
genre: Shooters

P233, 64MB RAM, 500MB HDD, 3D accelerator
ESRB rating: M

release date: Mar 22, 01
» All About Serious Sam on ActionTrip

Serious Sam is kicking some major booty in Egypt! The ancient city of Memphis better be ready for what is coming. Hell, you better be ready for what is coming at ya!

I used to love roller coaster rides. I also used to love playing them coin-up arcade machines. Does anyone remember "Operation Wolf"? That was one helluva coin-up shooter. No brains to it (on your part at least), and no AI either. All you had to do is throw that quarter in and start shooting.

Well, I just gave you a pretty good description of Serious Sam. In essence, that's what Serious Sam is all about - it's fun, it's fast, and it leaves you feeling like you haven't had enough of it. Sure, it's short, but so is that roller coaster ride, and the time you have before that "insert coin to continue" message pops up. I mean I don't want to get too philosophical about it, but most good things in life are short. Hmmm... yeah, you know what I'm talking about, right? My ex used to call me Mr. Two-minute man, and for a good reason, too.

Sam's story is a rather irrelevant part of the game, but that is in no way a drawback, because you definitely have to be in the right frame of mind to review this one. It'd be absolutely silly to expect a game like Half-Life or Deus Ex, and I'm not saying this in a disdainful way, far from it. Serious Sam and the two aforementioned titles simply don't fall in the same category, that's all. It's like saying that an NBA Live game sucks, because it has no story compared to Deus Ex. Serious Sam is an ultra-fast Space Invaders type of a game wrapped up in a beautiful 3D engine and played from the first person view. You can compare it to Doom, but while Doom was, merely a technology-stricken attempt to edge closer to where single player FPS games are today, Serious Sam is a conscious effort to make something that is "pure gameplay" in all of its coin-up arcade glory.

Therefore, it's kind of stupid to compare it to any other game on the market. Croteam knew what they were doing from day one, and the lack of a more sophisticated AI, or a more elaborate story is in no way a design compromise - the developers simply focused on the important factors, which make Sam a unique project. The only compromise Croteam had to make is about the only real downside to this game, and it has to do with the relatively low number of single player levels (only 15), and the lack of more DM / multiplayer support. However, there's always the option of playing the game on a harder level, and bringing your buddy over to play in the coop. mode.

Further more, Croteam has recently put up a Serious Sam SDK for download, and already mods are begging to pop up on the net. Croteam definitely didn't get the AAA treatment while developing this game, but I must say GoD Games did a decent job, at least as far as the marketing goes. And anyways, in some weird way, even this crippled version of the game (some levels had to be left out from the final version) has a high replay value due to its coin-up style of gameplay. Croteam has somehow managed to slip through the cracks and get a lot of things right in this title and even turn some disadvantages into mild disadvantages. Talk about grabbing the chance by the balls and not letting go. I guess Roman and the gang are skilled at what they do (wink, wink).

Oh, and did I mention the $14.95 price tag? At that price, this game is a steal - it's like buying NIKE shoes straight from the Chinese factory.

What is It About Serious Sam That Makes It So Goddamn Special?

There are a couple of things which make S. Sam a unique effort: the beautiful and versatile 3D code, fantastic gameplay dynamics, OOMPH-happy arsenal, and an incredible amount of imaginative creatures, some of which are absolutely huge in scale. I should also add the atmospheric music and Sam's witty one-liners to the list, which make the whole experience more personal and give it a satirical edge.

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8.9   Very Good

One seriously fun ride, and with a BANG, too! Coop. mode. Oh, and did I mention the $14.95 price tag?

Enemies shouldn't get stuck on walls (noticed this on a couple of occasions), arcade shooter or not. Relatively short SP... relatively. The game lacks better MP support out of the box.


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