Serious Sam: Next Encounter (GameCube) Preview

By James Temperton 05.04.2004 2

Don't be under any false impressions, this is not your run of the mill shoot-'em-up, in fact to be perfectly honest this title isn't really like any game on the market. Trying to get to grips with just what Serious Sam is can be tricky enough. The best way we can think of is to take something like Halo and dumb it down a bit, then a bit more, get it drunk, get it to do hanky-panky with Mario on a bouncy castle and strap on some C4 explosives. A game after our hearts it would seem...

The main focus of any shooter is to (obviously) shoot things, and Serious Sam makes special efforts to ensure this is a prominent feature. This title doesn't require you to think, or to strategise it just wants you to go insane with very dangerous and over the top weapons and blow things up. This is basically an arcade shooter on a console, hence the low, low price point in the USA.

Next Encounter sees you as the hero of the title, going to way against anything that moves and looks vaguely menacing. Excuse us if we sound slightly dismissive of the whole thing, but that is basically it. There are no cranium aching puzzles to solve, no tricky enemies to overcome, just lots and lots of potential corpses to deal with. And just when you think you have cleared a section of the game more enemies come piling towards you, and thus the killing continues. This is not a game for people who want to do some thinking, but then again, perhaps we need to just have simple fun every now and again.

The control system is suitably tight and responsive, with the whole game boasting a very fluid and responsive feel and style. You can turn quickly and easily and aiming is a piece of cake. The shoulder buttons allow you to jump and shoot, whilst the rest of the buttons deal with weapons, actions and other such things. Due to the games simple style there isn't really anything to get too confused about, which means you can get on with enjoying the game rather than worrying about what button to press to activate this doo-hicky and that who-da-what.

Of course all good points come at a cost, and in Serious Sam visual flare and excellence has made way for speed and ease. Admittedly the game moves along at a very smooth 60fps, but the whole thing seems a bit sparse at times. The levels may well be huge, but they lack any sort of detail or definition, colourful they may be, but interesting they are not. The hoards of enemies are also worryingly simple, to be honest they look fairly awful. Its acceptable enough, and far from being the worst we have seen, but a bit more interest on the visual front would be nice.

Most FPS titles offer you at most a dozen opponents in a room at once, this title does things a bit more differently. Each section is like waging war against a whole new army, with fifty foes coming at you at once, sometimes even more. In a nice little twist the game works on points, and uses killing more as a trick than a mission (morally wrong no doubt many will feel). You can get combos by taking lots of enemies out at once and do all sorts of other things to boost up your score. Do particularly well and you become invincible, enabling you to go on an even more insane killing spree.

We have our worries though. With not much to mix up the action throughout the game (with the exception of the occasional vehicle based level) Serious Sam is in danger of becoming very repetitive indeed. If the game can be breezed through without so much as arousing a brain cell, let alone trying to think them perhaps this expression of simplicity and fun will fall flat on its over the top and flamboyant face.

Finally we come to the multiplayer. There is the usual four player split screen action (which looks to be very entertaining indeed) and as a special little bonus the developers have thrown in a two player cooperative mode as well! Basically this is the same blow shit up, move on and repeat gameplay that is found in the single player, but should be great fun when done with a mate and is a welcome addition in our books.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day Serious Sam: The Next Encounter won't break down any boundaries, it won't revolutionise gaming and it won't stun the industry too much, but it was never meant to. This is a simple, explosive and vastly entertaining title that should prove enough fun for any gamer with a yearning for some cranial relaxation.

Developer

Take Two

Publisher

Climax

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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