Serious Sam II Review

By Jason "Rodzilla" Rodzik - October 11, 2005

Across the game’s more than 40 different worlds, Sam “Serious” Stone encounters several dozen enemies, ranging in size from a foot-high slime-snail to a 50-foot high biomech, Serious Sam II throws all sorts of action at you and never looks back. At times, the sheer number and size of enemies can be overwhelming, but luckily it's possible to change difficulty settings in the middle of a campaign if necessary. Although saving and loading is not restricted, Serious Sam II includes a new lives system that helps to prevent any pauses or gaps in the fast-paced action.

Unlike the previous games, Serious Sam II features several drivable vehicles, including a hovercraft straight out of Star Wars’ pod racers, a UFO-shaped hovercraft with spinning saw blades, and a spiked ball that Sam can pilot similar to a hamster, as well as a variety of turrets. The addition of vehicles adds even more fun to the already proven kill-everything-that-moves formula, and there are numerous occasions where you will find yourself laughing with delight as you blast hundreds of rushing enemies across massively open levels.

Croteam has been hard at work with not only the development of Serious Sam II, but also with their new engine, Serious Engine 2. The effort is obvious, as the graphics are simply stunning, and there was almost no slowdown on a moderately priced computer, even with all the bells and whistles (Bloom lighting, HDR, high quality models and shadows, etc…) enabled. However, there were some minor bugs and graphical glitches visible, and while they did not affect the gameplay in any way, they were significant enough to be distracting at times. While some controls were a bit difficult to setup, a patch has already been released addressing these issues.

Serious Sam II delivers a boss fight at the end of each world, culminating in the conclusion of the game. While each boss is impressive in its own way, the conclusion of the game is simply astonishing, and will certainly go down as one of the greatest boss battles of all time. As the last level contains approximately 1,300 enemies, the entire level could be considered a boss match, and if the game hasn’t already led to the consistent use of the Quick Save and Quick Load buttons, they will quickly become your best friends. Although the conclusion of Serious Sam II is one of the most challenging and intense fights ever, it is also one of the most rewarding experiences in gaming.

At $30 for the PC and $40 for Xbox, Serious Sam II is an incredible deal, especially given the fact that the game’s 16 player co-op mode (4 players on Xbox) is highly customizable and scalable to the number of players currently in the game. Unfortunately, Serious Sam II is missing the split-screen multiplayer support of its predecessors, and while the game lacks a Deathmatch mode, it has been promised to be added in an upcoming patch. The game’s co-op feature is insanely fun, and we’ll have a full review of multiplayer for both internet and LAN play soon after the game’s full retail release so the engine’s ability to handle the sheer amount of action over the internet can be properly evaluated.

If you didn’t like the original Serious Sam or you want to become deeply engrossed in the storyline of a game, you’re simply not going to like Serious Sam II. However, if you liked the first games and are looking for something new, you need this game. Serious Sam II delivers a much needed boost of adrenaline and concludes with one of the most intensely rewarding battles ever seen in a game.

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