Review by Antpants
Any game that has a Serious Ninja Chicken in it is okay in my books!
Note: This review will likely contain some minor spoilers.
Before reading the review, answer the following questions:
1) Do you like campy, slapstick humor?
2) Do you like using BIG guns
3) Do you like games that don't take themselves seriously
4) Do you like huge head-counts?
If the answer to most of these is "Yes", this game is your salvation. Croteam has put out yet another gem of a game. It features big guns, a variety of enemies, huge levels, and a multitude of secrets that you'll be seeking out in no time.
Enter Sam, the hero. Sam is fearless, Sam is reckless, Sam is THE guy. Once again, our one-liner sprouting hero is caught up in a battle against the evil MENTAL and his minions. One minute, he's a happy-go-lucky guy, the next, he's battling every alien in the universe (or so it seems). Sam travels from world to world, meeting new and improved enemies as well as some fan favourites from the first series. The story is very thinly presented. The developers make no bones that the story is nothing more than a vehicle to allow Sam to sprout one-liners. The text is written in English that makes you laugh, only because it makes sense barely, and I believe this to be intentional to capture the flavor of the game. But there is a plot. Sam has to collect five pieces of a medallion before he san save the world and face MENTAL. Yep, that's the plot.
As it was in the first game, the one thing that strikes you is the amount of space in each level. The levels are huge. The game engine is another beast altogether. If you are afraid of twitch gaming and don't like to be overwhelmed, stay clear of this game. In all of my years of gaming, I have never faced the sheer amount of enemies that are present in this game. How the game engine handles all of the frantic action and explosions is a masterstroke by Croteam. The game rarely if ever slows down and the character animations are rendered very well. The cutscenes are of a good but not great quality, but the game levels are done extremely well and often in vibrant colors and settings. You'll see no muted palettes in this game.
The levels in this game are greatly varied, from the volcanic wasteland of the Kleer planet to a level that has you feeling like you were shrunk down to the size of an ant, avoiding bowel movements as you walk. There's plenty to love about the level designs.
Sound is excellent in this game. Sound is your first warning that the world is about to collapse around you. Be it the clopping noise of incoming Kleer skeletons, the ever increasing yell of the Kamikaze bomber, the squeaky sound of the unicycle exploding clown, or the oncoming rush of the wind-up Were-bull amongst others, you know that it's time to grip the trigger tightly, because this happy place you're in is about to come crashing down in a blaze of glory (cue Bon Jovi). Sound plays a big part in this game, as you will have to spin around at times to pick off all of your enemies. Surround is a bonus.
In-game music is a mixture of many styles, but always fitting and well implemented. The game features everything from goofy circus music to cheesy 80's rock anthem-styled themes. The music is great, and sets the not-so-serious tone straight off the bat.
Stealth is a word that does not exist in this game. The idea is to pick up ammunition and blast your way through everything, not paying any attention to the amount of ammunition you have left. The basic formula is simple: Sam walks into a room. Sam looks around. Sam sees nothing wrong. Sam eats a power up that gives him one measly energy point and all hell breaks loose. This game pits you mostly in open area environments where you are provided with weapons and power-ups. Once eating them, a pitched battle ensues, often being the type that feeds you a constant stream of enemies before you can continue. The carnage is magnificent and the frenetic action often will have you whooping it up once the battle is over. But you thought it was over...it really isn't. You see, Croteam seems to have this morbid sense of humor in that they'll throw a few hundred enemies at you and let you fend for yourself. Once the battle is over and you're wiping the sweat off of your brow...WHAM! Another 400 enemies hit you. When that's over, you wipe your brow and just for good measure, they'll throw another 20 at you. You can NEVER rest easy in this game.
Beyond the frantic pace and excellent range of weapons (including a homing bomb parrot), you will also find plenty of secrets and secret areas. Some of these provide you with crazy power-ups, like "Serious damage" or "Serious Jump", while at other times, they serve to be funny for no real reason. There's nothing more gratifying than finding a secret area only to have the game pronounce "Serious Ninja Chicken has been found!".
Ironically, when the game starts to feel a bit too "serious", the game throws you some cliched and slapstick humor, helping to keep the experience fresh and enjoyable.
This isn't a difficult game, contrary to the fact that the head count in this game probably amounts to about ten thousand enemies - and I'm not exaggerating. The weapons are powerful and a true joy to use. Ammunition is abundant, and the enemies can be dispatched quite easily as long as you have room to move and dodge. The average gamer will be able to complete this game, but will have some sweaty palms for his/her trouble
Serious Sam is serious fun. If you want realism, do not pick up this game. If you want carnage and overpowered weapons mixed in with some campy humor and very funny circumstances, be sure to snap it up in a second. Serious Sam 2, put simply, is a romp. There's a great time to be had by all, and aside from some battles that you thought would never end, there's not much of anything to complain about here.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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