Serious Sam has a long and illustrious history since the series started as first person shooter by the Croatian outfit known as Croteam in 2001. The game’s popularity on the PC meant that it was ported to many later consoles such as the Xbox, Gamecube, Playstation 2 and eventually, an HD upgrade to the Xbox Live Arcade. Serious Sam was always considered an alternative to the Doom series as they had many glaring similarities in style, substance, and even subject matter at several points. Roll on 2011 and we have another instalment in the Serious Sam series – Serious Sam Double D. It was released as a PC only 2D side scrolling shoot ‘em up, but fast became a hit and it made gamers clamour for an Xbox Live Arcade release. The guys at Mommy’s Best Games went to work and not only did they make a port for the original, but they expanded on it in style.
So we know that this game is a 2D side-scrolling shooter, but we’ve seen these before in abundance. Why should you give this game a go? The answer is simple, mayhem. Bloody, funny, gunny, mayhem. There is an abundance of craziness, the likes of which you have never seen. We have giant gorilla monsters with buzzsaws for hands, giant dinosaurs that will stomp you to death at the drop of a hat, and other huge beasts of a genetically inappropriate nature. But this is all part of the “what the hell did I just see” charm that is plastered all over this game.
The game is essentially very basic in that there is not much you will be doing in the way of gameplay. It is not that much different from booting up a little game of Contra or a more toned down Megaman. However, there is one new feature in this game – gun stacking. You can stack guns upon guns upon guns! Combining the sheer force and strength of a shotgun with the relentlessness of a Tommy Gun has only the most devastating of results. Ultimately you can find your best combinations and stack as many guns as you can think of to find the most ‘killy’ (yeah we invented a word) of combinations. Each weapon that you stack has its own kind of ammunition though, so you will have to be smart about what you combine as some forms of ammo will run out before others. There are around thirty different guns that you can make combinations of. Ammo ranging from fire to even bees (yes…bees) will ensure that you always have a fun time. The ‘gun arrangement’ screen is very reminiscent of Resident Evil 4’s inventory system in that it’s almost a living schematic.
Combining guns isn’t the only gun editing aspect in the game. You can buy upgrades for each gun that will change the way you play. For example, the air buffer will soften falls and even help you jump higher. There is even an upgrade that will let you shoot flesh eating beetles at your enemies. All the upgrades are very innovative and will even make you chortle from time to time.
Why do you need all of these monstrous weapons anyway? Well I already mentioned just a couple of the enemies you will go up against. But let’s have a bit of a rundown. There are suicide bombers with bombs for heads, jetpack monkeys that fire bananas at you, fire breathing kitties, and wait for it…some kind of pancake-panini monster with forks for legs that blows a vuvuzela at you. There are many more enemy types in this game, and they spawn in droves. The abundance of enemies can be a little bit trying at times as they just do not ever stop.
The level design is nothing to shout about. I wouldn’t say it’s bad, but then again, I wouldn’t say it’s good either. It’s just passable really. Run, jump, shoot. That is the essence of this game, and the level design does nothing but promote that. Some levels do have multiple routes but it is almost pointless as the different routes add nothing to the game. To sum up the level design – “meh”.
Graphically the game is pretty sweet. It’s like a hand-drawn Megadrive game. It does amaze me that a 2D game such as this does have a hint of realism. The enemies are so well rendered that the game is almost like a pop-up book. It is one of the most colourful games that I have ever played. The vibrancy does look as though it could give you some kind of epileptic fit due to colourful strobe lighting. But it can be a sight to behold at times, even distracting. The amount of times I was killed because I was too busy staring at the latest gargantuan enemy that stepped into my deadly arena is unreal.
So anyway, there’s one gameplay mechanic that in my opinion, makes a mediocre game worth playing. Co-op. Co-op and competitive gameplay is where I think the true fun comes out of this game. It doesn’t add that much to the game, but anyone will tell you that playing a game with your friend is much more advantageous than playing alone.
So to sum this entire thing up, the game is a romp. A ridiculously funny romp. There is non-stop action, stacking up to six guns to make the most killer combinations, several upgrades that alter the game’s infrastructure, co-op and competitive play, level design that isn’t so bad but isn’t so good either. I have almost nothing bad to say about the game, so you may be wondering what my deal is.
I’m just not impressed by it. I think it’s a good game, I had fun. But I think it’s good in the sense that a free-to-play mobile phone game is. I would not pay money for it. But I also cannot say it’s a bad game by any means. This is definitely a catch-22. Unless you know for a fact that you will be making good use of the co-op, I’d say you’re not missing out on anything by skipping Contra: Duke Nukem Edition. Sorry, Serious Sam Double D XXL.
So this non-impressive, non-bad, just barely average game is worth a play in my books, but not worthy of its price tag. I give it…