by Gotham Games
With the long absence of Duke Nukem on the PC, FPS fans needed an all action hero. None of this sneaking about and being tactical, but simply a game where you pick up your weapons and go all out for the kills and thrills. With Duke on an indefinite sabbatical, it was obvious that somebody else had to do the job. That someone else was Serious Sam. Serious Sam offered all the immediacy of games such as Doom and Quake but excelled in the way it offered non-stop frenzied action, perhaps more so than the legendary ID titles. With the Xbox proving itself as a great console for FPS titles, it was always going to be a wise choice to bring the game to Microsoft's console.
Sam's story begins in the year 2104. The human civilisation is heavily under attack from monsters from another dimension. The humans are defeated on the planets they have conquered, time after time, until they are forced back to the place from where they came, Earth. Human kind as we know it is on the verge of destruction. It's time to call on Sam 'Serious' Stone who must return to the past to change it and prevent the threat of human extinction becoming a reality.
Of course if you've played Serious Sam on the PC, you may be wandering how it plays on the Xbox and you may also wander if the game retains the same maniacal feel to it. Well the game is just as exciting as it ever was on the PC and thanks to the nature of the Xbox controller (both normal and Controller S) the game is also a delight to control. The controls feel comfortable and will be second nature to those of you that have played titles such as Halo or Ghost Recon on the Xbox. The left analogue stick controls the movement (keeping the stick pressed down makes Sam crouch). The right analogue stick controls your view. The A,B,X,Y buttons allow you to change weapons and select your favourite weapon (the option to bookmark your favourite weapon was a masterstroke on the part of the developers and is an extremely useful feature). The customary fire button is the right trigger and the left trigger is used for jumping. The white button is used for accessing the NETRICSA and the black button is for using items. All in all a very satisfactory control scheme. Auto-aiming, auto-centering and sensitivity alterations can be used if so desired.
Whilst Serious Sam couldn't possibly look as good as the PC versions when set to a high resolution, it does come very close indeed. The quality of the textures and the animation is virtually identical to the PC versions of Serious Sam, which is very impressive indeed. The framerate is mostly very impressive, although it does dip on the odd occasion but it is only slightly noticeable and it never harms the gameplay. The ability to change the colour of the blood (with the option to substitute blood for bunches of flowers) is a nice touch and especially welcome if you have squeamish members of the family in the room where you play.
Serious Sam on the whole is OK for deaf gamers. All information is given completely in text and in-depth information on your enemies and weapons can be accessed in the NETRICSA (NEuroTRonically Implanted Combat Simulation Analyser) by pressing the white button. Whilst the NETRICSA is being used the game pauses and you can read all the information at your leisure. What deaf gamers will miss out on though is Sam's sense of humour. These humorous little touches really are very funny. Early on in the game Sam walks into a corridor and is faced with a huge stone sphere that begins to roll toward him. Sam begins to whistle the theme tune to Raiders of the Lost Ark as it is very similar to the opening sequence of that film. Of course these unsubtitled pieces of humour do not spoil the game but nevertheless they would enable a deaf gamer to appreciate these subtle touches that make Serious Sam a very popular character. Where deaf gamers are slightly disadvantaged, as with the PC version, is that they won't be able to benefit from the audible warnings that the enemies give. This is only a problem on the more difficult of the four difficulty settings though when the enemies are really something to fear. The manual has been well done and supplies you with all the information you require to fully appreciate the game.
Serious Sam is just one of those games that are great to have in your collection. The single player game, whilst not that long, is enjoyable, replayable even, but what makes the game extra fun is the ability to play through the game in a 2 player co-operative mode via split screen or system link. There is also a 4 player deathmatch option with the ability to create a time limit of indeed a frag limit to decide the winner. I'm sure there will be a sequel on the Xbox and one addition that would be superb is support for Xbox Live. The ability to play a game like Serious Sam over Xbox Live would be brilliant and give the game almost endless replayability.
Game Rating: 8.8/10