Serious Insanity. Review

Joe Dodson
Serious Sam Info


  • N/A


  • 1 - 1


  • Gathering of Developers
  • Gotham Games


  • N/A

Release Date

  • 03/15/2001
  • Out Now


  • PC
  • Xbox


Serious Insanity.

When I flipped on the news today, I was presented with several depressing stories,

all of which were frightening and none of which were in my power to resolve. Our

President is widely acknowledged to be a moron (especially in Canada), there may

or may not be terrorists trying to blow up my bathroom, and the entire political

game got owned by those crotchety old GOPs. Wish I had me a BFG.

According to whiny politicians like Joe Lieberman. games are the source of

all evil because they apparently poison children’s minds with violence and bloodlust.

But at least you get to kick ass, and nothing is better for the old noggin’

than a little victory here and there (especially when everything in the news

claims you either are a victim of this or that, or are about to be).


alleviation of stress through ownage is generally called ‘cathartic.’

It can now also be called Serious Sam.

Serious Sam for the Xbox, published by Gotham Games and developed by

Croteam, is just what the doctor ordered if you suffer from complications related

to being alive in an insane world. Nothing is complicated in Serious Sam,

leastwise the plot. You are Sam and you kill EVERYTHING.

There are simple puzzles here and there which require you to push this switch to get that key to open some door, but most are just pretext for sending tons of monsters at you as soon as any switch is touched or any key is grabbed. From Fiendian Reptiloid Demons to Cucurbito the Pumpkin to Serian Werebulls, Sam has to kill tons of bad-ass enemies at every turn.

While the enemies are basically fodder before your arsenal of rockets, grenades,

lasers and flames, many of the baddies can dish out serious damage. Some fire

green blobs of heat-seeking pain, while others go for the more personal, evisceration-via-huge-spikey-pain

approach. And chances are, you’ll be fighting about a dozen of each at a time.

Sam’s weaponry should be extremely familiar to first-person shooter fans (especially

Doom II, from which much inspiration was clearly taken). You have shotguns,

handguns, machine guns, rocket launchers, grenade launchers, chainsaws, flamethrowers,

plasma blasters, and the Serious bomb (which kills everything on-screen). Unlike

Doom II, which went for a certain anxiety factor via low ammunition availability,

Serious Sam treats you to tons of bullets and tons of monsters to put

’em through.

The action is like something out of an old-school arcade game (Smash TV

comes to mind). You enter an arena, which is typically wide open (although occasionally

you’ll battle in temples and alleyways), and then the enemies come. First they

scream, though, which is helpful since you’ll know what scourge you’re dealing

with and which gat to blast ’em with before you even see them.

The only problem here is that it gets a little redundant. You’ll basically

jump and circle strafe until everything around you is reduced to chunky red

polygons. You always bust out the chainsaw when assaulted by melee monsters,

and always go for something like the shotgun or rocket launcher to put the biggest

holes in the biggest baddies. This is where a plot might have helped. While

there are some humorous cut-scenes, killing the same enemies the same way over

and over gets boring.


Serious Sam has some seriously cool multiplayer options. The Cooperative

Play option is, in my opinion, the best way to play Serious Sam. It’s

the perfect dorm room anti-drug solution. Sitting around with some geeked-out

friends, mindlessly mutilating legions of monsters over some chips and some

Mountain Dew is a lot better than getting high and passing out to Judge Judy

or Gundam Wing.

The Deathmatch Option has always been included in FPS games, but it has never

seemed so inexorable or unnecessary. Why fight one or two other dudes when you

can fight a hundred at once? Anything under a four-player deathmatch is pretty

lame in the first place, and oddly, Serious Sam is not supported by Xbox

Live! D’oh!

Still, the single-player and co-op is fun. The level design is decent with

cool art and details on walls and impressive structures. There are also some

really cool environmental obstacles like rotating rooms and bouncing floors

to add a new element of insanity to already manic massacres.

Graphically, Serious Sam is a less than perfect port of the PC

. For example, if you stand still and turn in a circle, the environment

won’t turn smoothly, but instead will get blocky and jagged as the Xbox struggles

to compensate for the constantly changing appearance of the environment. Also,

some of the animations are less than satisfying. The hit detection could be

more sophisticated, the chunks could be more chunky and less blocky, and the

deaths by chainsaw could be waaaaay more gruesome. I mean, it’s a chainsaw,

it doesn’t blow things up, it rips them apart. Can I get an amputation here?

Serious Sam‘s audio, however, is great. I actually turned down David

Bowie to better hear what was going on in the game, and I never turn

down David Bowie. The explosions are robust, the monster screams distinct, and

the music changes to suit the intensity of the situation. No symphony of destruction

is complete without good gun noises, but some of the noises could have been

much more violent.

Overall, Serious Sam is a good offering for the Xbox. The high intensity

gameplay and over-the-top presentation are signs of a game that was fun to make,

and so is fun to play. Serious Sam is long enough for some serious sessions

of sordid slaughter, and if you don’t take plot too seriously and don’t mind

some repetition with your ultra-violence, then it’s worth your money. Seriously.


Graphical flaws