Serious Sam II Hands-On Preview

By Jason "Rodzilla" Rodzik - September 20, 2005

When Doom was released, it sparked the age of twitch first-person shooters that threw tons and tons of weapons, ammo, and enemies at the player at once. These types of games, focusing more on fun than complication, slowly died off. Then, in 2001, Croteam released Serious Sam: The First Encounter, throwing hundreds and hundreds of enemies at a player in each level, while at the same time allowing gamers to join in with friends in the massive slaughter of hordes of enemies at once. Serious Sam II is the full sequel to The First Encounter and The Second Encounter (both of which are considered two halves of Serious Sam 1), and Sam is back with more firepower than ever.

Serious Sam II delivers even more of the simple fun that made the first games great. Forget about dark corridors, almost all of Serious Sam II is packed with color and brightness. Looking for a deep meaning behind the madness? Look somewhere else, as although the game includes over two hours of hilarious cutscenes, there’s no complicated storyline to bog down the action. And if for some reason you happen to be looking for a Serious game, forget about it, as Sam II is loaded with humor.

However, if you’re looking for thousands of things to blow up, tons of weapons to blow things up with, and gobs of ammo for those weapons, along with some great laughs and non-stop action and fun, then you’ll be right at home in the world of Sam “Serious” Stone. Serious Sam II is nothing short of a masterpiece of chaos, destruction and fun. Hundreds of enemies populate each of the game’s 42 levels, with one of the later levels having more than 1,100 enemies in it. Croteam supplies 15 different weapons, ranging from Sam’s trusty colts to a bird that kamikazes into enemies with a bomb in its talons. Also, the all-powerful Serious Bomb makes its return, vaporizing every enemy within view.

The action of Serious Sam II is both intense and hilariously fun, and at times you may catch yourself not breathing for long periods of time. The enemies are simply gigantic, and at one point I encountered what I thought was the first boss of the game, until another dozen massive mechanical spiders dropped in all around me and I realized how mistaken I was. Enemy counts are higher than ever, with one level in the early stages of the game having over 330 enemies, with a later level throwing more than 1,100 enemies at Sam (we're promised the final game will have even more). Serious Sam II also throws over a half dozen boss fights at Sam, all of which are absolutely massive and leave the player with a sense of accomplishment.

In addition to more powerful weapons and much larger enemies, Croteam also added numerous vehicles and stationary turrets. Serious Sam II delivers numerous moments of sheer bliss. Imagine how fun it would be to fly around blasting enemies in a Star Wars-esque hovercraft while football orcs throw flaming footballs at you, ships fly overhead on bombing runs and attack runs, and objects caught in the crossfire crumble around you. Now do that numerous times, and mix in stationary pulse and minigun turrets, and you might find that Serious Sam II delivers more fun than you can handle.

For those moments when your trigger finger needs a brief rest, Croteam provides a plethora of humor within the game. At one point I came across a large statue of a monkey with “no banana” signs posted on both sides. Upon finding a giant banana in the bushes and hurling it into the monkey’s mouth, Netrisca, Sam’s trusty provider-of-information, says “Don’t feed the monkey!” Serious Sam II holds nothing back when it comes to its competitors, and frequently pokes fun at other games, such as an “Unreal Wasteland” level as well as several Duke Nukem Forever jokes. Although the cutscenes provide a storyline to the game, they also serve as comic relief, with Sam frequently chiming in with his classic one-liners, just as he did in the original series.

Croteam has been simultaneously developing their new Serious Engine 2 alongside the development of the game itself. Croteam has made use of their new engine to deliver a graphically stunning and colorful game world, a true feat when you consider that the game can throw tons of enemies at Sam without cutting back on visual quality or speed. Some of the game’s particle effects are among the best ever seen, with some amazing plumes of smoke rising from the top’s of fiery volcanoes. Also at work with the new engine is a much more advanced physics engine than previously existed, allowing the player much more interaction with the game world. Croteam’s plethora of hidden bonus secrets have been included in Sam II, and many of them require some sort of physical interaction with objects, such as throwing a basketball through a goal.

Serious Sam II delivers amazing action and humor throughout every one of its 42 levels. The game’s co-op mode, which promises support of up to 16 players online and 4 players via XBox system-link or XBox Live! promises to be one of the most fun online gaming experiences in years, with the game scaling up the action for every additional player. Serious Sam II is scheduled to be in stores on October 10th, with a demo release at 10 AM EDT on September 21.

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