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Serious Sam (Xbox) artwork

Serious Sam (Xbox) review


"Serious Sam was released on PC a few years ago to (mostly) great reviews. I recall one major PC magazine review saying something like “Doom is back!” and generally saying that Serious Sam hearkened back to the old days of first person shooters, and felt a lot like Doom. I disagree. There is obvious Doom influence on the game, and it DID seem like the gameplay had just walked out of a time machine- but not from the Doom era. From even farther back than that. It feels closer to games like Ro..."



Serious Sam was released on PC a few years ago to (mostly) great reviews. I recall one major PC magazine review saying something like “Doom is back!” and generally saying that Serious Sam hearkened back to the old days of first person shooters, and felt a lot like Doom. I disagree. There is obvious Doom influence on the game, and it DID seem like the gameplay had just walked out of a time machine- but not from the Doom era. From even farther back than that. It feels closer to games like Robotron or Smash TV than it does to Doom.

You’re a badass dude named Sam and you’re fighting to rid the world of the evil aliens. Some fighting is done in tunnels, corridors, and other small places, but the main part of the action takes place in large open areas. These places are so full of bad guys it’s insane. You can literally have upwards of 30 guys charging you at once-the action gets pretty crazy. You could say Serious Sam is a mindless game and you’d be mostly correct. There’s not much time for thinking.

There is a LITTLE bit of thinking involved, however. Unlike some FPS’s where you just use whatever is your current “best gun” to kill whatever gets in your way, in Serious Sam certain guns are good for killing certain enemies. Each baddie makes a certain sound, and you usually hear them before you can see them so you’ve got a few seconds to pull out the ideal weapon before they get to you. That works fine if there’s only one type of alien after you, but when multiple types start showing up, things get heavy.

This game is hard. Really hard. The odds can sometimes be so ridiculously against you that you’ll think, “No way is this possible.”. I’m a pretty calm and laid back person, and at times Serious Sam pushed me to the point of frustration. Not because it’s poorly made, just because it’s so damn hard sometimes. It seems like there’s points where there’s no other option besides death. This could be a turnoff for some people. The good thing is that when you die you don’t have to go all the way back to the last save point. You’ve got a number of Lives , and every time you die you can respawn right where you died. Until you run out of Lives, that is.

Serious Sam is a computer game that’s a couple years old, but the graphics still look pretty good for the most part. The 3D environments are pretty basic, but they look really good. Lines are sharp and the textures look crisp, even up close. Everything is very colorful. There’s a lot of different types of bad guys, some are cool, some seem pretty uninspired.. They all look decent, but aren’t too detailed. The levels aren’t that detailed either, but it makes sense. If all of the 40 or so enemies and all the objects on screen were very detailed the framerate would suffer so terribly that Serious Sam would look more like a slideshow than a game. That would be bad.

There were a few problems with the graphics. If you spin around really fast, the screen kind of wigs out as the Xbox struggles to render the big environments. Don’t ask me why they didn’t fix that. Also the blood looks kind of corny, and when you blow guys up they turn into chunks of very blocky looking red “flesh”. When Sam reloads a weapon you usually see his arm, which looks pretty lame too. There’s a few other small graphical errors lurking around, I just don’t remember them, but it’s nothing very bad. Overall the graphics look good.

Serious Sam is actually two PC games on one disc: Serious Sam and Serious Sam:The Second Encounter. This being the case, the game is really long, and has plenty of levels, which makes me happy. Besides the single player mode, you can go through the game in 2 player co-op, or have deathmatches with up to 4 guys. All of the multiplayer stuff struck me as being pretty shoddy. The co-op mode is fun, but in split screen the framerate really starts dropping. Same applies to the multiplayer vs. mode. You can have some fun with the multiplayer modes, but Serious Sam is meant to be enjoyed alone.

Serious Sam is an intense experience, the likes of which we don’t really see these days. This kind of game isn’t for everybody. It’s not a thinking man’s game, but it‘s fast, intense, and a lot of fun. I can see some people getting bored with the “mindless” constant running/dodging/shooting, but it was really fun for me the whole way through. Serious Sam is another top notch PC first person shooter that feels right at home on the Xbox.

Rating: 8/10

goatx3's avatar
Community review by goatx3 (December 26, 2002)

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