Genre: First Person Shooter
Developed by: Croteam
Published by: Gathering of Developers
Platforms: PC, Xbox, Xbox 360, Palm OS
Feeling Like: Serious Same
One of the downfalls of the 500 is that I’m going from last to first. In which case, many sequels will be written about before their predecessors and it’s nearly impossible to discuss Serious Sam: The Second Encounter without talking about Serious Sam (the first encounter). It’s bound to work out, since they’re virtually the same game. While it didn’t have the surprise novelty of Serious Sam, the Second time round is tighter, bigger and crazier.
I’m tempted to write the whole post in capital letters, because that’s the only way to convey how batshit Serious Sam is. It’s frantic, arcade-y feeling first person explosion fest, without any extraneous filler. Buildings are big, levels are bigger and it’s just you and hordes of enemies to get acquainted with.
Speaking of the baddies, they’re the unquestionably the star of the show. Their design ranges from curiously familiar to amusingly grotesque, to outright hilarious. The best part is how they approach. There isn’t any overall strategy to their plan, other than to sprint at Sam and throw/shoot things if possible.
I can’t continue without mentioning my favorite among these murderous rapscallions; the screaming bomber. Most enemies you’ll see coming, as each battlefield gives you MILES of space to strafe, jump and careen to your heart’s content. It’s a neat visual trick; you think to yourself, “I’ve got tons of ammunition, crazy powerful weapons and full health. Bring it” Until you realize that the wave you just barely took out was the first of many, and you’re not reloading as fast as you’d like and oh crap did those toads get behind me? And what the hell hit me so hard it took off 21 health? And so on.
You’ll hear hooves right out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail to signify the skeleton horsey bull things, you’ll hear chainsaws from the pumpkin headed, overall wearing maniacs (I can’t believe I get to explain this), but the one you’ll fear and love the most are the noises generated by the screaming bombers. You’ll hear them long before you can see them.
Their suicidal screech starts out faint, then grows louder, and louder, and louder and BOOM your health takes a huge hit. They will ALWAYS catch up to you and no, you can’t hide from them. Unlike the other enemies, you can survive a couple of close hits from an enemy that flanked you. Sam doesn’t have that luxury with the bombers. It creates a great sense of fearful anticipation; sure, they’re easy to take out but can you take out all of them in time?
Aside from them, the other highlight is a weapon that vaults Serious Sam: The Second Encounter further up the ladder. The SBC Cannon. Yes, that kind of cannon. I love how they describe the cannonballs as “uranium filled” as if the concept of one guy running around with a cannon tucked under his arm like he’s doing a Crossfit exercise wasn’t ridiculous enough. This type of firepower, when charged up for a few seconds, TEARS through enemies and is so satisfying. Now, combine a row of screaming bombers with a uranium filled ball of destruction and you have one Seriously good time.