Serious Sam: Next Encounter (GameCube) Review

By Fraser Wilson 04.06.2004

Developers and publishers alike know that Nintendo fans are a hard bunch to please, with all the quality games that are on the current Nintendo systems. They also know that there is a dearth of decent first-person shooters, and a market crying for such games. But does Serious Sam: Next Encounter match our expectations, and provide a decent and much-needed shooter support to the Gamecube? Read on!

Serious Sam doesn't try to dress up the fact that's it is merely a shooter and nothing else, in fact it evens jokes about it throughout the game. The game has a plot to keep things flowing, and it vaguely resembles the mighty Timesplitter's storyline. Sam's old nemesis, Mental, and his minions are on the warpath, hoping to use ancient Sirian timelocks to alter Earth's past and conquer the annoying planet once and for all. Of course, Sam isn't having any of this, and with the help of the most modern and sophisticated technology to kill and maim at his side, he travels back in time to various points in history to keep Mental at bay and set things right. By killing lots and lots of freakish aliens!

Screenshot for Serious Sam: Next Encounter on GameCube

As you can see, the story isn't the strongest aspect of the game; it's there to keep things going. The game is set over varied time periods: ancient Rome, ancient China and the Lost City of Atlantis. These have their own enemies and different locales, ranging from the Coliseum in Rome to the Steam Temple in Atlantis. The levels are absolutely massive in scale, but lack flair and imagination in their design, but they allow for some major confrontations and plenty of room for you to strafe and circle an enemy while filling them with lead. This is basically the crux of the gameplay. Just about all of the game's features have been in FPS games since they began and then some. What is there though is finely balanced and anyone can pick up a pad and have some fun with it straight away.

The main game, consisting of going into a room or large area and clearing the enemies, is also broken up by some mild puzzling action. We use mild in the loosest sense of the word here – the most the game asks of your grey matter is to gather two keys to pass through a gate for example. You also have a range of power-ups and 3 different vehicles at your disposal to wreak havoc on the bad guys too, and these sections are incredibly fun and fast-paced. The way that game works is similar to retro arcade games – simply blasting away, aiming for the highest score possible, and it works – you never see a Game Over screen in Serious Sam either: you simply respawn with some points deducted as a penalty.

Screenshot for Serious Sam: Next Encounter on GameCube

The enemy AI isn't very challenging however – you’ll have no problems taking on any single enemy as long as you keep your distance and keep shooting, but this changes entirely when you have an army approaching a hundred (and above! How does the Gamecube handle it?) in number attacking you all at the same time. You’ll have enemies blasting at you from high up, while others simply charge in using melee attacks and some use both. If you stand still, you can be ripped to shreds in a matter of seconds, but you’ll have a blast as you gleefully rip through entire legions with weapons that would make the Terminator cry.

On the other hand, the bosses are incredibly difficult and after waltzing through the earlier levels, you come to the first mammoth boss. You’ll find that your most powerful weapons barely scratch it and with smaller enemies bugging you and huge amounts of fire hurtling towards you, you’ll most likely get bored with the repetitiveness of the fight and switch off. This reviewer himself had difficulty passing any of the boss fights above the easy setting, so it’s a blessing that these fights come few and far between.

Screenshot for Serious Sam: Next Encounter on GameCube

In terms of graphics and audio standards, Serious Sam is by the book. There is really nothing special, bar some nice water effects and the framerate is kept above 60fps, and the sound of gunfire with the eerie music suits the game rather well. However, what makes this game special is the co-op mode. If you can get a friend round, or play with your sibling then the game becomes a lot more enjoyable. You can tweak the settings to your own tastes and then let rip on the unsuspecting hordes with your comrade. It gives the game a slightly more strategic edge, giving it more depth and whilst not changing anything like the number of enemies in the game, or not limiting the ammo so that you don't have to decide who gets ammo and health, provides an excellent alternative to other multiplayer games out there.

Serious Sam: Next Encounter is by no means the most involving or refined gaming experience ever, but it provides such enjoyable and simple gameplay that it cannot be overlooked.

Screenshot for Serious Sam: Next Encounter on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Not an essential purchase, but definitely worth considering if you love shooters and you have someone to play the co-op mode with. Serious Sam: Next Encounter adds nothing new to the shooter genre, but it doesn't subtract from it either, providing a fun game while it lasts.

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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