Serious Sam: Next Encounter :: and why games should be less realistic.

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Serious Sam: Next Encounter

...and why games should be less realistic

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There was something almost ritualistic as I scoured my attic for the Playstation 2, blew the dust out of the disk-drive and fired it up. Seeing the green and blue lights flicker back to life brought joy and nostalgia into my ever-growing smile. Next to its predecessor it looked like a worn out and tired older brother. There I was, ladies and gentlemen, finally breathing life into my battered old heap of outdated electronics that we know and love as the PS2. What did I perform this ritual for? You may ask. Well, boredom of "realistic" shooters has, at last, overwhelmed me; so I went crawling back to Serious Sam: Next Encounter.

When attempting to play a game like Serious Sam you have to forget everything people have told you about what makes a good game. This is no Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2; in fact if it weren't for the way that both games involve guns they couldn't be any more different. You want a "compelling" story where one or more of the playable characters is bound to die, do you? What you're getting isn't a story, it's an excuse. An excuse to send the player through as many time periods as possible as they hunt down a mysterious alien artefact. Hell... you don't even have to play as the main protagonist; if you want you can play as a spaceman. You want graphics so fine you can see each individual hair on the enemies backs, do you? This game is a port of a game made in 2002 for the PC and even for the time the graphics were laughably simple. You want a wonderful music score composed by the like of Nobuo Uematsu of Final Fantasy, do you? Uh... piss off...

In essence, Serious Sam: Next Encounter is a hybrid of a FPS and an Arcade game. You shoot at things that look at you the wrong way but you gain points as you do so and can even stack up combos for extra bonuses. You have probably realised then, that Serious Sam: Next Encounter is charmingly ironic in the way that it is, by no stretch of the imagination, serious. The game revolves around creating as much carnage as possible and does everything it can to inflate the mayhem. This is shown quite artfully in the very first level. The game places you in an arena, with a minigun and waves of approaching enemies. It gives you a friendly push into a level and declares "just have fun!".

The philosophy of "just have fun" is one that has, until very recently, been dwindling. Unlike yesteryear when games like Serious Sam and the very similar Duke Nukem were doing the rounds, we now drown in a sea of "realistic" and "compelling" shooters as the gaming industry tries to desperately copy Hollywood. Just look at the droves of such games that sell so well: Call of Duty, Gears of War, Halo, Battlefield etc. etc... I could probably go on for hours. All the listed games have you shooting similar looking soldiers in similar looking places. While Serious Sam has you fighting hordes of mini-chariot riders and Tripods from War of the Worlds in ancient Rome. Which would you say sounds like a more fun experience?

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Things have been looking better more recently, games like ModRacing and Little Big Planet[1] target an audience that yearns for an exciting game, one that doesn't weigh you down by moral choices or impending doom. The rising Indie-game community is helping immensely by releasing a torrent of games that you can easily waste a few hours on without questioning your actions. N has been immensely popular but does it have a story? Are the graphics good? Is there any character development? No, no and most definitely no. I am one of many who play games to relax and have fun, which is why Serious Sam: Next Encounter is so perfect.

The guns in the game steer clear of titles filled with a mish-mash of numbers and letters. You get guns like "The Shotgun", "The Uzis", "The Flamethrower" and, my personal favourite, "The Rocket Launcher". Everything in Serious Sam is simple, and therefore accessible. I know that the shotgun is good at short range and that's all I need to know. Factors like rate of fire, accuracy, mobility and all these other categories that recent games have weighed themselves down with don't matter when playing Serious Sam. All that matters is having fun.

As if this game wan't retro enough to make you dizzy, the inclusion of a health bar may make you faint with nostalgic joy. More so when you realise that this isn't a hybrid health bar that incorporates itself with the ever-so-common "regenerate limbs when in cover" system. You refill the bar by picking up health packs[2] and can even add another bar in the form of a shield. Some may accuse this game of giving you rather too much health and giving you too many health packs. But challenge was never something that Serious Sam was going for. I played the game on hard difficulty (admittedly there is one harder level "Serious") with a friend and between us we died around 6 times in 3 hours. That was by using only the rocket launcher and pistols as well. And what happens when you die? Well you wait 5 seconds and you stand back up again! Why would it do this? Because starting from checkpoints and redoing parts is boring.

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The previously mentioned variety of enemies is something that never fails to impress with this game. You can expect to encounter[3] giant, green mutants that spit poison at you, men with rockets strapped to their backs who act like suicide bombers and even gigantic robot scorpions with chain guns for pincers. The enemies go down pretty quickly due to moderate health and the fact that the auto-aim may as well be renamed the aimbot. The chaos of the game lies in the fact that there are just so many enemies trying to kill you at any given moment. At regular intervals Serious Sam places you in a courtyard and sends waves of about 50 enemies at a time at you. The effect is invigorating and crazy, especially when you start killing 6 enemies at once with one sniper rifle bullet. What adds to this experience are the constant one liners that manage to be cheesy yet still funny. Lines like "a jumping puzzle? Why would I ever be doing a jumping puzzle?".

It's probably already been decided in you head as to whether Serious Sam: Next Encounter is a game for you. If you want a breath of fresh air from the sea of "intense" shooters that plague the market and you want that air at a bargain price then this is definitely the game for you.

It's great for playing with friends, for relaxing and most of all, for having fun.

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This article is just me trying out something new, if you liked/ didn't like it be sure to leave a comment stating why as that would be really helpful. Thanks for reading.

Next article: Infamous and superhero games in general

[1] the second LBP is coming out this year, if I was told I could kill to have the game now... let's just say I'd be making levels by the morning
[2] what will they think of next?
[3] Bah dum dum tssshhh

Serious Sam is the last FPS that captured some of the original Doom fun.
Totally love that.

So awesome.I agree with your realistic shooter nonsense.There should be more games like this.

veloper:
Serious Sam is the last FPS that captured some of the original Doom fun.
Totally love that.

I seriously do not understand why no one makes another game like it, if anything it will make them stand out and they will have a pre-existing market of people who used to play games like Serious Sam.

Good review, may I recommend Serious Sam HD which you can find on Steam.

I absolutely loved this game when I had it but to be honest it will never be as good as the First Serious Sam and Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, it was too cartoony for me

ben---neb:
Good review, may I recommend Serious Sam HD which you can find on Steam.

Yeh, I've heard about that. I hear the second one is up there as well (although not this one. I'm not too sure but I think this is a mash up of the two made exclusively for consoles). If I had a proper computer rather than this battered old laptop I would definitely get it. I am thinking of getting a Mac soon though and with Steam for Mac there's nothing holding me back.

Oh, I remember playing this game, ah those were great times.

I do kind of wish that games like Serious Sam were still being made, but sadly times have change.

Armored Prayer:
Oh, I remember playing this game, ah those were great times.

I do kind of wish that games like Serious Sam were still being made, but sadly times have change.

Hopefully, now that games are stopping trying to be "the next Call of Duty" we should be seeing games like this soon. Although I could be completely wrong.

Stranger of Sorts:

ben---neb:
Good review, may I recommend Serious Sam HD which you can find on Steam.

Yeh, I've heard about that. I hear the second one is up there as well (although not this one. I'm not too sure but I think this is a mash up of the two made exclusively for consoles). If I had a proper computer rather than this battered old laptop I would definitely get it. I am thinking of getting a Mac soon though and with Steam for Mac there's nothing holding me back.

but...um...don't only certain Steam games work on Mac?

Onyx Oblivion:

Stranger of Sorts:

ben---neb:
Good review, may I recommend Serious Sam HD which you can find on Steam.

Yeh, I've heard about that. I hear the second one is up there as well (although not this one. I'm not too sure but I think this is a mash up of the two made exclusively for consoles). If I had a proper computer rather than this battered old laptop I would definitely get it. I am thinking of getting a Mac soon though and with Steam for Mac there's nothing holding me back.

but...um...don't only certain Steam games work on Mac?

Only 2 at the moment apparently, though I expect they'll add more as time passes.

Good review. Yes, it was seriously silly fun!

Great game! Me and my friend spent soooo many hours just wasting time with that game, and we loved every minute!

Though I feel the exact same about Halo and Call of Duty. me and friends spent sooooo many hours play and loving thoughs two games series as well.

funksobeefy:
Great game! Me and my friend spent soooo many hours just wasting time with that game, and we loved every minute!

Though I feel the exact same about Halo and Call of Duty. me and friends spent sooooo many hours play and loving thoughs two games series as well.

Call of Duty is by no means a bad game (I've spent upwards of 3 weeks on the series in total) but overall it just isn't as fun. It's an addictive cocktail of excitement and frustration. There may be a tad less excitement on a game like Serious Sam but in the end it is more enjoyable and less frustrating.

Audioave10:
Good review. Yes, it was seriously silly fun!

Thanks for reading. I've just discovered the amount of gags I missed in this review i.e "...but seriously, Serous Sam is not serious"

Stranger of Sorts:

veloper:
Serious Sam is the last FPS that captured some of the original Doom fun.
Totally love that.

I seriously do not understand why no one makes another game like it, if anything it will make them stand out and they will have a pre-existing market of people who used to play games like Serious Sam.

Somebody did: It was called Painkiller, and it came out in 2004 - Yahtzee reviewed it for the hell of it a while ago (that is what the link is pointing to). While taking everything Yahtzee says at face value might not be the best of policies in most circumstances, his review of the game is 100% accurate and in no way exaggerated for comedic effect - he genuinely didn't need to, the game is exactly as awesome as he describes it.

Seriously, if you loved Serious Sam you really need to dig up a copy of Painkiller, it's a blast.

Stranger of Sorts:

veloper:
Serious Sam is the last FPS that captured some of the original Doom fun.
Totally love that.

I seriously do not understand why no one makes another game like it, if anything it will make them stand out and they will have a pre-existing market of people who used to play games like Serious Sam.

Well, Bulletstorm, the recently announced Epic games title, kind of looks like it's heading in that direction. What with the wacky executions and the "better kills = more points" system kind of gives it an arcade feel (from what I've seen/heard) akin to that of Serious Sam.

That's something to look out for, I guess. Oh, and great review!

Gildan Bladeborn:

Somebody did: It was called Painkiller, and it came out in 2004 - Yahtzee reviewed it for the hell of it a while ago (that is what the link is pointing to). While taking everything Yahtzee says at face value might not be the best of policies in most circumstances, his review of the game is 100% accurate and in no way exaggerated for comedic effect - he genuinely didn't need to, the game is exactly as awesome as he describes it.

Seriously, if you loved Serious Sam you really need to dig up a copy of Painkiller, it's a blast.

Painkiller does not seem to be available on the PS3...

SteelStallion:

Well, Bulletstorm, the recently announced Epic games title, kind of looks like it's heading in that direction. What with the wacky executions and the "better kills = more points" system kind of gives it an arcade feel (from what I've seen/heard) akin to that of Serious Sam.

That's something to look out for, I guess. Oh, and great review!

Now that does look good but it looks more like Borderlands. That's not such a bad thing as I adored Borderlands (I need to do a review of that sometime). Even so it looks like a good laugh so I'll definitely be picking it up.

Stranger of Sorts:

Gildan Bladeborn:

Somebody did: It was called Painkiller, and it came out in 2004 - Yahtzee reviewed it for the hell of it a while ago (that is what the link is pointing to). While taking everything Yahtzee says at face value might not be the best of policies in most circumstances, his review of the game is 100% accurate and in no way exaggerated for comedic effect - he genuinely didn't need to, the game is exactly as awesome as he describes it.

Seriously, if you loved Serious Sam you really need to dig up a copy of Painkiller, it's a blast.

Painkiller does not seem to be available on the PS3...

Yeah, there was an X-Box port of the first game combined with the first expansion, but apart from that the Painkiller series is 100% focused on the PC (word is that last year's latest standalone expansion/sequel might see a 360 release though).

But it came out in 2004 - how do you not have a computer powerful enough to play a 6-year old game? Consoles are hardly the natural medium for an FPS game anyhow.

Gildan Bladeborn:

Yeah, there was an X-Box port of the first game combined with the first expansion, but apart from that the Painkiller series is 100% focused on the PC (word is that last year's latest standalone expansion/sequel might see a 360 release though).

But it came out in 2004 - how do you not have a computer powerful enough to play a 6-year old game? Consoles are hardly the natural medium for an FPS game anyhow.

Because I have always been a console gamer, even though my first experiences of gaming were on the PC (Quake 2, Age of Empires etc.). All my friends play consoles so I've never seen the need to get a proper computer. Hell, even now I'm typing on a laptop. I'm about to dish out a lot of money on a mac but not for the games (obviously... it's a mac) but for the speed/software.

Consoles work just fine with FPSs. Though it is a completely different experience than on the PC.

Serious Sam is only one of the best FPS games in the whole world! I can't wait for Duke Nukem!!!!!!!

I suggest Painkiller too, it's dirt cheap on most digital stores, but only go as far as Painkiller or Painkiller Black, game expansion, the two sequels,Resurrection and Overdose, are both terribly disappointing. Still, 3 for Painkiller and expansion, in the Steam sale.

Oh and Serious Sam HD - 3 on Steam for 24 hours! Both games classic and HD versions. Three pounds!

(One quibble, HD? isn't 1024x768 HD? I'm pretty sure the original Sam went way past HD)

I didn't enjoy Serious Sam HD as much as the original. The environment clouded over the enemies. Though I probably could have gone through and tweaked the settings...

Serious Sam is on my list of MUST HAVE Lan Party Games.

Unreal Tournament 1999 and 2003 are high up on that list too.

 

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