reviews\ Mar 29, 2001 at 7:00 pm

Serious Sam - PC - Review

In the year 2104, monsters spawned from another dimension, attack human civilization.  In the battles that follow, humankind fights valiantly, but nothing can stop the monsters from coming.  Earth’s forces are steadily defeated, planet-by-planet, from Alpha Centaury back to their own solar system.  World leaders must now turn to their last chance, an ancient artifact called the “Time-Lock”, which is a relic imbued with the power to teleport a single person back in time.  The choice of whom to send is obvious…Serious Sam becomes the final hope for humankind. He must return beneath the sands of the earliest known human civilization, to another, even more ancient, but technologically advanced- civilization.  His goal is to save his race from extinction from an evil force determined to purge the galaxy of all intelligent life.  Now that you have the skinny of the introduction, you are ready to ROCK!  (These are bits and pieces from the manual, but you can get the full scoop at the SS web site). SS website

This FPS is a nice breath of fresh air that will bring you back to the root of what FPS’s used to be.  Lots of bad guys (literally thousands) with end-of-level bosses complimented by many somewhat challenging puzzles.  Add that to stunning graphics, beautiful landscapes, superb sound and music, and you have a quality FPS and a new engine that will rock every PC around the world. 

You will have ten weapons in your arsenal as you acquire them as you progress through the game. They are a Military Knife, Schofield .45 w/ TMAR, 12 Gauge Pump Action Shotgun, Double Barrel Coach Gun, XM214-A Minigun, M1-A2 Thompson Submachine Gun, XPML21 Rocket Launcher, MKIII Grenade Launcher, XL2 Lasergun, and SBC Cannon.  These weapons are much needed for the assault that will be unleashed upon you from some 18 different types of monsters, not including the end game boss.  To name a few you will encounter many headless-bombers, bio-mechanoids, arachnoids, beheaded kamikazes, Sirian Werebulls, Gnarrs, Scythian Witch-Harpies, electro fish, etc.  Some fly, some swim, some charge, some shoot at you, all with one thing in mind…KILL SAM!  There are plenty of power-ups scattered throughout the maps that offer a plethora of health, armor, and ammo to aid you in your quest.

The puzzles are not too difficult.  You pretty much need to push buttons to open doors, or gather artifacts that you will place in certain areas to progress through the game.  But beyond that you will need to kill hoard upon hoard of baddies that will seem neverending.  Just when you thought you might be done, here come another 100 or so.  It’s pretty much a blood bath to sum it up!

Ok, so you bought the game and you beat every difficulty setting including the hardest. (Like that might be possible without riding the save key and dying a few hundred times).  Now it’s time to play multiplayer via LAN or Internet.  You can play cooperatively or go for the all out death-match. A nice change to the DM from most FPS’s is that you receive more points for fragging another player who has more kills and has been alive longer, then you do for camping a newbie the whole game.  Co-op allows you to actually progress through all 15 levels of the game, which you do not see all that often.  In co-op, if the players increase, so do the bad guys…even during mid-game.  That is just plain awesome!  Keep in mind even though you may be playing a LAN game, other players can see your game on the internet and join in, so be careful to select the amount of players that you intend to host for.  If making your own maps is your thing, well you can do that too!

The only downside that I see is that the game requires a fast PC.  You see my test model here at the bottom of the review…all the bells and whistles and as you would expect, the game ran beautifully.  Playing on my slower PII 350 MMX with a 32MB 3D video card and 128MB of RAM was quite a bit slower with a few timeouts while playing LAN games.  It is a bit slower but definitely playable.  If you boast a 550Mhz processor or better, you should be fine.  200 Mhz is required, but I would be a bit hesitant at that speed. 

The graphics are fantastic!  The landscapes are beautifully rendered with special attention to lighting and shading.  They really make you feel like you are actually there.  Changing environments are smoothly done and the 3D perspective is great.  You gotta love Serious Sam’s skin too.  Gone is the fancy armor, but replaced with skin that could just about represent anybody in the world.  Blue jeans and a white T-shirt with the Serious Sam logo on the back!!  Can’t wait for their marketing Department to get on the ball and start printing those shirts!!!  If that doesn’t suit you and you need some other variety of skins, there are plenty futuristic ones available for multiplayer games including Elvis and Santa Claus…QUITE COOL!  All this for 20 bucks …you can’t go wrong!

Installation: Easy
But slower processors will take some time.

Gameplay: 9
Interesting storyline accompanied by puzzles and an OVERFLOW OF WHOOP-ASS. Slower processors may strain a bit but if you have a fast PC with a good video card, the results are terrific.

Graphics: 9
The new Serious Engine provided stunning environments.  I hope to see this new technology licensed out to future FPS genre games.

Sound: 9
Great sound effects and music make a nice complement to the game.  If you hear the music getting louder, it's because hell is about to be unleashed.

Difficulty: 10
Catered to everyone from the novice to the most serious gamer with 5 levels of difficulty to choose from.  Plenty of bad guys to keep the game interesting. Will keep anyone busy for hours at a time. 

Concept: 9
Nice to see a game that gets back to the basics of FPS genre with puzzles, storyline, TONS of killing bad guys, and end-of-level bosses.

Multiplayer: 9
Deathmatches and Cooperative play through ALL levels make this a great multiplayer FPS.  I experienced some lagging during play even with a fast processor and cable modem, which may be the fault of the Host or browser, but either way can be a drag when it does happen.

Overall: 9.5
Puzzles, plenty of weapons, tons of secrets, hordes of bad guys, sprawling landscapes, splendid music and sound effects, great multiplayer capabilities, give this title a great overall rating!


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