Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Serious Sam

I'm gonna open this review by saying straight-out, I'm not really a fan of most first-person shooters. Personally, I find most of them insanely repetitive and the worst of them always seem to degrade into more of a maze game than a shooting game. Basically, I find them dull.

So, with my bias out of the way, I will now discuss time spent playing Serious Sam.

Starting out

Like many older games, upon launching Serious Sam, you're presented with a demo watching the computer play a bit to get a feel for the game.

However, upon hitting a key to stop it and actually play the game myself, it loads another demo instead. Strange. Hitting the escape key fortunately brings me to a menu where I can start a new game.

A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away...

The game opens with a shot of space and Earth with text explaining the plot so far scrolling up the screen. Apparently the universe is under siege from evil aliens from another dimension and Earth's armies keep losing the battle to them...it's discovered that the only way to stop them involves going back in time. The person they choose to send is an strong soldier named Sam "Serious" Stone.

And with that, the game actually begins with this Serious Sam fellow dropping into an ancient civilization armed with nothing but a .45 revolver and a combat knife.

I feel kinda unequipped, considering I'm supposed to be Earth's last hope, but whatever. It's standard FPS fare to make you gradually get better and better weapons.

Oh well, time to start shooting. The first enemies seem to be some kind of head soldiers that fire beams of yellow light towards, but they're quickly dispatched and then....

You've Got Mail!

As soon as I've killed my first baddies, a message pops up in the middle of the screen informing me that I have an e-mail. Huh?

I go into some computer type system where the e-mail contains an analysis of the bad guys I just took out. It seems that they are revived soldiers who carry their heads around and fire magic missiles...I thought this was serious FPS, not Dungeons and Dragons.

These analysis e-mails pop up every time I encounter a new enemy and frankly, it's kinda annoying. But so is watching e-mail pile up. I never thought I'd have to apply Merlin Mann's Inbox Zero methodologies to a first-person shooter...

Moving through some temple like area, I finally score a pump-action shotgun...only to find out getting it triggers a scripted sequence where a crap-tonne of aliens come rushing at me.

I'd use this as a jumping off point into a rant about scripted sequences in action games but I shouldn't be surprised. Why else would there be a shotgun sitting around in 1300B.C.? Clearly, it was a trap.

Wisecracks and Kamikazes

The second level opens with a massive pile of shotgun shells being available for the taking.

I'm scared.

I've played enough action games to know that when you're given a shitload of ammo, it means you're gonna need it.

As it turns out, I'm right. One kamikaze dude comes running over a hill and I blast him before he can blow me up. After Serious Sam makes a wisecrack (and I get an e-mail explaining the kamikaze character) a whole slew of them comes running over....AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Wait a second...first-person shooter...evil aliens...male protagonist with too much testosterone who keeps making quips...I've played this game before. Except it was called Duke Nukem 3D last time.

With that realization out of the way and having been killed by the horde of suicide bombers a few times, I figured out that the trick is to shoot one of them in the middle of a group. The way when he explodes, he takes a bunch of his buddies with him.


I continued playing a little while longer and ran into more new baddies followed by an e-mail and more scripted sequences that triggers large groups of these bad guys to come rushing after me...this is the repetition I find so annoying about these games.

So will I keep playing? Probably not. It's definitely not a terrible game but since its release in 1999, there have been so many FPS games that are significantly better, many of which I still haven't had time to play.

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