E3 Impressions - Serious Sam II

By Jason "Rodzilla" Rodzik - May 22, 2005

We had the chance to play through Serious Sam II on the show floor at E3 2005 in Los Angeles, as well as being able to see several levels not otherwise demonstrated at the expo. Seriously! brings you an exclusive look into Croteam's upcoming Serious Sam II with a thirty-two minute Serious Sam II video, which includes a continuous interview with the game's producer, Fernando Melo. While you wait for the download to complete, or if you simply can't hear some of the questions and answers, take a look at our impressions of Serious Sam II below.

Serious Sam II is the true sequel to the original Serious Sam game. Where the original had tons of enemies on screen at once, Serious Sam II will also deliver. However, for the sequel, Croteam and 2K Games are actually applying to the Guinness Book of World Records for the most number of enemies on screen at one time, expected to be around 200-300 enemies, depending on the level and the types of enemies. The enemy AI has been improved compared to the original, and there are certain units that act as commanders over their own squad. Killing the commander results in a decreased intelligence in the rest of the squad. However, the game stays true to the style of the original, and while some of the AI will be cool, the game will still be a run-and-gun shooter that throws hundreds of enemies at you at once.

Serious Sam II will feature fully destructible environments across the entire game. Certain levels have geometry that doesnít make sense to be destroyed, such as levels with rock walls, but in other levels where destroying walls makes sense, such as a level with tiki-huts and rocket launchers, a rocket would be able to destroy the entire structure.

While the build shown at E3 was four weeks old, everything looked very impressive. A few things werenít working, like the new Serious Bomb, which looks impressive but wasnít usable at the time. Other weapons include classics such as the double barrel shotgun, rocket launcher, grenade launcher, cannon, and sniper rifle, although the sniper rifle may or may not be in the final game. In addition to the classic weapons, thereís a new laser gun, auto shotgun, dual uzis, plasma rifle, and most interesting of all, a parrot that flies out and drops bombs on top of enemies. The standard sidearm for Serious Sam II will be dual colt revolvers, while secondary fire always throws a grenade.

Currently there are only two power-ups confirmed for Serious Sam II. The Serious Strength power-up will give Sam the ability to live up large enemies and bowl down other enemies with them. Also, the Serious Disco power-up results in disco music and lights and all of the enemies stop firing at Sam and start dancing, allowing Sam the time to take them out with impunity.

Serious Sam II will feature NPCs in every one of its seven worlds, across which there are 40 different levels. Some of the types of worlds to be seen in the final game include environments of jungles, lava, a futuristic city, and an oriental city. Croteam and 2K Games expect Serious Sam II to take the average gamer 25-30 hours to complete, and it will include a full two hours of cutscenes, featuring the wacky story to be expected from Croteam. NPCs can be allies to Sam, and in one of the worlds they provide Sam with the parrot weapon. NPCs will be able to man turrets, fight against Samís enemies, and even ride in vehicles alongside Sam. Some of the vehicles in Serious Sam II include speeder bikes, surfboards, two-person vehicles, animals which can take out enemies for you, enemies which can be coerced into being ridden, and a spiked ball similar to a hamster ball that can be used to crush over enemies. Also shown was a hover speeder which had some really cool looking jet trails on it, and had plasma rifles as a weapon as well as being able to run down enemies.

The enemies of Serious Sam II include some of the original baddies such as suicide bombers, harpies, and kleers, all of which have been upgraded for the sequel. New enemies include a large wind-up rhino, similar to the original werebull, metallic spiders, a giant raptor on mechanized legs, and football orc-looking creatures that charge Sam with spikes and throw flaming explosive footballs. Dropships are a new addition to Serious Sam II, and will be used at times as a replacement to simply spawning enemies. This allows the player the ability to shoot down a dropship before it can unload all the enemies, which can make things simpler for the player. Netricsa, the GUI , is now a woman in cutscenes, and Croteam presents interactions between Sam and Netricsa as a parody of soap operas.

In addition to the standard levels of the game, there are also certain bonus-type levels which are actually a part of the story. One such level was a checkpoint-style race in which you had a certain amount of time to blast your way through the enemies and get to each checkpoint. The only things currently known about multiplayer are that co-op with much improved netcode is a priority; 2K Games would not comment on other multiplayer modes.

Serious Sam II will feature advanced physics as well, and will include very simple physics puzzles. There wonít be anything complicated, but simple physical interactions such as shooting out the support for a structure and crushing enemies with it will be possible. The game is being developed for the PC and the XBox, with XBox Live! support, and the XBox version will be equivalent to the PC version of the game.

The full level and scripting editor will be included with Serious Sam II, along with all levels in the game. According to 2K Games, the Serious Editor for Serious Engine II is more advanced than that of both Half-Life 2 and the Doom 3 powered Prey. The editor allows a great level of flexibility without having any knowledge of programming or scripting, although scripting can be used for more advanced tasks. One of the premiere features of the new Serious Editor will be the ability to actually pause in the middle of all of the action, to then change settings on the fly, and then the designer can rewind and play through it again with the new settings.

Croteam hopes to go full-out with licensing of Serious Engine 2. As previously stated, the new Serious Editor is extremely advanced. Serious Engine 2, however, is a different style of engine which caters to a different style of game. As seen in Serious Sam II, it can feature cutscenes leading straight into levels, or vice versa.