Serious Carnage, Serious Fun!
As you no doubt already know, Serious Sam: The First Encounter was a brilliant game that came straight out of 'left-field' (although it actually came out of Croatia) and won the hearts (and awards) of many for it's masses of bad guys, truly superb co-operative online play, stunning game engine, ridiculously oversized final boss and small-time price. Although initially intended as a 'tech demo' of the Serious engine, the game won multiple Game of the Year awards and was truly a masterpiece.
Now, the series has hit us again, but with a slightly less impact. Prepare to get serious again. Prepare for Serious Sam 2!
Serious Sam 2, by Croteam, the same guys who made the first two games, Serious Sam: The First Encounter and Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, is a pure-breed fragfest of a first person shooter. Most of that nancy-boy puzzle solving stuff has gone out the window, in favor of waves of bad guys that are intent on performing some less-that-surgically-certified-amputations on your all too willing body. In fact, the hardest puzzle in the game is in the first level, and that's a simple weighted switch one. Usually getting a door to open a door is as simple as making a lot of enemies die. Most of the time you won't be thinking how to get to the next area, you'll be thinking about which weapon would kill that guy up ahead the fastest, the most effective or in the funniest way.
And there's a lot of weapons to choose from. You've got your standard dual-infinite revolvers, your zapgun and your chainsaw (which, for the record, is actually a buzzsaw. But who cares? It's a sharp thingy that spins real fast and cuts a helluva lot) Then you've got the shotguns, including one that looks more like a minigun, next are your bullet weapons (including your actual minigun. Hey, it's not Sam without one!), next you've got your rocket launcher, grenade launcher, followed by your plasma rifle, your sniper rifle, an exploding parrot and then the two flagships of the Serious arsenal: the cannon and Serious Bombs. The cannon is one you'd see in a pirate movie, and is effective at stopping whole hordes of enemies, as the cannonball is rather big, and can travel through large masses of enemies without even slowing down. The Serious Bombs are a tribute back to the days of arcade goodness, with those 'flash bombs' that used to clear out the screen of enemies. Light one up and every enemy currently in sight disappears. Sam also gets grenades, but these are different as pressing the alternate fire on any weapon throws one out.
No doubt you won't be wondering about the story of Serious Sam 2, seeing as how the main focus of the series has always been the intense combat, but I thought I'd just tell you a bit about it anyway. Sam is contacted by the Sirian High Council and is told to collect five parts of a medallion that, when joined together again, will make Mental, the enemy of the series, vulnerable. Sam collects these parts and goes to Sirius to fight with Mental. That's it. Not much of a story, but heck, as I said, the series is more about the fighting.
And what glorious fighting that is! You, playing as Serious Sam, will be up against all the forces Mental can throw at you (or, in some cases, what Mental's OTHER forces can throw at you.) And I do mean all the forces. The first Serious Sam game had giant hordes of enemies onscreen and this is one aspect lovingly carried into Serious Sam 2. The hordes of enemies also have that diversity that Croteam has become known for. From the kamikazes that adorned the first game (now they have giant bombs for heads instead of small ones for hands.) to zombie stockbrokers, orc batallions and giant mechs with T-rex heads adorned with lit cigars in their mouths, you'll see a lot of different enemies. You'll also see the insides of a lot of different enemies, as this game has a lot more gibbing than the first one did.
And as you're playing, you'll notice that classic Croteam humor. From the hilarious secrets to the witty dialogue, you'll soon see a big grin adorning your face the whole way through the game.
That's not the only thing you'll see. The graphics in Serious Sam 2 have been vastly improved since the first in the series. Everything looks shiny as, and with the Serious Engine 2, the game can render lots of moving objects simultaneously without any slowdown. Also, since the first game, the Serious Sam series has been branching out from the Egyptian theme that was all too evident in the first game. Now, you'll fight across frozen bases, volcanic planets, enemy prisons, giant forrests, treetop villages and a plethora of other settings. Each area is unique in that some enemies will only be in that certain setting, and that no two areas look remotely alike.
Did I mention the sound? Top-notch stuff. From the appropriate music tracks to the quite witty lines from Sam and NETRISCA (Yes, she can talk now.), the sound never gets boring. Not exactly attention grabbing, but not exactly unnoticable. Just what it should be for a game like this.
Which can be enjoyed online as well. The spectacular co-op mode has been retained and now even includes a feature to allow players to vote on whether the level should be skipped or repeated, or if a player should be kicked, time banned or totally banned. Counter-op modes are still available as well, but that's not really a large aspect. Even now, you'll see a lot of servers out there for Serious Sam 2, so finding a game shouldn't be too hard now.
If you're truly going online with this, then you'll need to patch the game. I reccomend patch 2.070, as this patch comes with Serious Editor 2, which is both a model and level creator for Serious Sam 2. Quite ingenious software. I've even created a couple of player models with it, called Granall and Trogan. You can download them from files.seriouszone.com, same as patch 2.070.
Now we get to the negatives. Well, firstly, there's quite a number of clipping problems when it comes to the cutscenes, which really distracts you from time to time. Also, there aren't that many player models to choose from with the standard game itself, but with Serious Editor 2, that's not much of a problem. Finally, the animations aren't that diverse either.
Well, given the reputation of the original Serious Sam game, this one had quite a lot to live up to. After weighing all the evidence, I say it is more than a worthy sequel. Pick this one up, and get ready to get serious. Again.