Review: Serious Sam Double D XXL is a gun-stacking, time-traveling, enemy-blasting good time
If there's something left to be desired after playing Serious Sam Double D XXL, it's a delicious, juicy double bacon cheeseburger. Hell, I could probably even go for a triple or, like, some weird burrito-and-burger combination. The reason for this is due to the constant theme of stacking in Double D XXL. Throughout the entirety of this time-traveling adventure, you're frequently stacking guns to create a massive weapon of pure, unbridled chaos. You then use said weapon of mass destruction to create piles upon piles of lifeless enemies. It's a violent -- and downright delicious -- romp through ancient lands, and it's a bloody good time that will likely leave you hungry for more.
You fill the blood-stained boots of Sam "Serious" Stone as his quest to conquer the vile Mental rages on. As is usually the case, Sam is armed with only his gruff-voiced charm, the advice of his pal Netricsa, and an unrivaled desire to blow sh*t up. Oh, and he also has a bunch of guns at his disposal, which certainly comes in handy as far as killing enemies is concerned. Once again, it's business as usual with Sam -- Double D XXL isn't a timeless epic, but it is a highly memorable adventure with guns aplenty. Despite the fact that this may not be some grand tale, the writing is pretty sharp and filled with genuine laugh-out-loud moments.
What's so impressive about Double D XXL is that it plays exactly like a Serious Sam game should. It properly takes the action-packed FPS gameplay of past games and delivers an equally frantic 2D shooter experience. As you travel across environments filled with pyramids and dinosaurs, you encounter some of the series' most cherished (read: loathed) enemies. You've got the screaming headless kamikazes, obnoxiously dangerous kleer skeletons, and disposable gnaars. Of course, there are also stripper-esque femikazes, explosive chimputees, and adorable fire-breathing kitties(!).
Like its FPS counterparts, Double D XXL throws hordes of baddies at you, and it's up to you to blast your way right through them. Various gun types are scattered throughout the world, and while you're bound to come across them if you follow the main path, a little exploration will score you a bunch of powerful weapons and upgrades. In fact, doing a bit of sight-seeing yields plenty of rewards and secrets for the campaign and the extra modes in Double D XXL, so it’s worth it to look around.
Serious Sam games have always been about unloading countless bullets onto seemingly endless groups of alien enemies. Double D XXL amplifies that aspect of the series with the inclusion of the Gunstacker. This powerful tool allows you to stack up to six weapons to create one giant multi-gun. Think of it as a Swiss army knife, except that instead of featuring lame bottle openers and inch blades, it’s loaded with a rocket launcher, flamethrower, shotgun, tommy gun, and chainsaw. If that combination doesn’t sound enticing, you can always add whatever weapons you’ve collected. It’s a great spin on the shooter formula that makes you feel like a total badass, and it never wears out its excellent novelty.
Double D XXL remains interesting the entire time you’re playing because it throws nuanced gameplay elements your way sporadically, keeping things exciting and entertaining. One example is a slow-motion device that allows you to slow down time at specific moments. In one instance, this mechanic is used so you can jump on multiple missiles and make your way upward. Another similar situation plays out about the same, except that instead of climbing up missiles, you’re jumping off of enemies' heads and using them as platforms. Yes, it’s as insanely fun as it sounds. Then there’s the giant dynamite-armed unicycle you ride later in the game, but really, revealing any more of the sweet surprises in Double D XXL would spoil the fun in discovering them for yourself.
You can take on the campaign alone or with a buddy in local co-op. Either way you choose to play, you’re bound to have a blast for the five or so hours that it’ll take you to blast through Mental’s armies. It isn't exactly long but still makes for a fun time. If you’re up for a different kind of challenge, there’s a competitive Head-to-Head mode and some unlockable Challenge Rooms to keep you busy for a bit longer. Multiple difficulties round out the experience nicely, adding an extra layer to this already challenging shooter. Ultimately, you’ll get the most fun out of the wholly entertaining campaign, but the extras do a great job of giving you more game to plow through.
Double D XXL features a cool graphical style that’s absolutely perfect for this rendition of the series. The level design is nicely varied, and though there are three specific themes, the scenery is constantly changing, so you never get bored with the environments. Additionally, you can edit the bleeding effect so that enemies just explode into piles of tasty-looking doughnuts. Speaking of tasty, those pancake monsters look absolutely incredible. IHOP’s got nothing on Double D XXL.
If you’re looking for a few solid hours of outrageous entertainment, Sam Stone’s 2D romp on Xbox Live Arcade will more than satisfy. The game is a hell of a lot of fun the entire time you’re playing. It’s challenging, so you’ll never get bored, and there’s plenty of variety to keep you engaged. Whether you’re customizing your Gunstacker, purchasing weapon upgrades from a grotesque yet friendly shopkeeper, or taking on legions of aliens with a friend, Double D XXL is one of the finest downloadable shooters you’ll come across on the Xbox 360.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]
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