Summary: CroTeam's long-awaited sequel to Serious Sam is nigh upon us, and they have released a teaser of what awaits in the demo. Is it worth the download though? Check Jakub's comments out.
In doing so, Serious Sam became a best-seller and reminded us Ė if only for a brief time Ė that entertainment isnít synonymous with realism. In Serious Sam the player threw himself into gigantic levels with dozens of enemies at a time and hundreds per section, mowing them down with revolvers, shotguns, rocket launchers and even knives. There would be headless suicide bombers with their chilling screams, giant alien bulls that charged like freight trains, harpies that flew overhead like Luftwaffe bomber formations, and huge red scorpion man-things with twin miniguns per arm. Levels were gimmicks, they were elaborate traps and the game wasnít ashamed of it. And the boss, wow, he was big.
Painkiller came along with a similar style of play, but the levels felt smaller and the game as a whole was dark, morbid. Serious Sam was humorous in an offbeat kind of way, but never goofy despite its bright colors and textures. Of course, Painkiller upped the ante in level style and especially boss quality.
So, Serious Sam 2 has, it seems, decided to go with fancier, smaller levels and putting a bit more weirdness into the characters. Does it work? Well... the final game isnít out yet so Iíll reserve judgment on the whole until then, but the demo is rather a disappointment. In fact, I donít even know where to begin listing all the little things that made me come to the conclusion.
For starters, the game isnít merely bright any more, itís cartoony. The weapons and enemies have more flat, bizarre textures on them, while the models are goofy-futuristic rather than realistic. Changes to the weapons seem especially bizarre, since they work the same way for the most part. Thereís the regular shotgun (except this one has six barrels, like a minigun), and then thereís the double shotgun which needs a reload after every shot (and it looks nothing like the old coach gun).
Sam also doesnít face as many enemies at once, as he faces multiple waves of them. The areas where he fights are more confined too. A double blow is that the confinements are many times invisible walls. The first Sams didnít have any shame about their levels being ad-hoc melee arenas, why is Serious Sam II now trying for standard level design?
Even after years of reviewing, I find it strange that so many small changes in the game can make such a deep impression. Ultimately, there is no doubt this is a Serious Sam game. What other titles float armor, weapons and health any more? What other games are so shameless about the simplicity of their AI? This isnít a knock on Sam either, thereís skill involved in making simple, reliable AI that is entertaining and challenging to boot. Make no doubt about it either, Serious Sam is challenging and the pace is as frantic as ever Ė it just isnít what we were expecting.
Is the demo worth a download? Well, fortunately itís off its FilePlanet exclusive now and itís a very slim download Ė a mere 235MB. By comparison, Serious Sam: The Second Encounterís demo was a heft for the time 110MB download. When you consider the extra art assets of a modern game, the size of the file barely keeps up with technology. This is yet another reason why weíre reluctant to make any firm conclusions about the final state of the game.
But that doesnít answer the question, is it worth the download? In our opinion: no. The Serious Sam 2 demo is, at best, not representative of what Serious Sam 2 is going to be. At worst, itís a demo of a game that has lost focus of what made it appealing. Either way, the end user has no benefit in downloading it Ė at least not until he can hear some opinions on whether or not the completed game mirrors the demo experience. That makes CroTeamís decision to release this demo even more bizarre. After all, you either put your best foot forward for a good impression, or you donít bother at all.
Hereís to hoping for a Serious Sam 2 with bigger levels, more monsters and no invisible walls!
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