2005 Reviews

Serious Sam II

  • Review Date: 2008-09
  • Release Date: 2005-10
  • Developer: Croteam
  • Rating: 8.0

After reading reviews from Gamespot & IGN that gave rather average ratings (6.9/10), complaining of cartoon-like design and repetitive gameplay, my expectations for Serious Sam II weren't high. However, I didn't have the option of comparing it to the first two parts of Serious Sam, as I only ever played the original demo years ago. This may have been a good thing.

As it turned out, the further I progressed in the game the more I realised this is a well underrated game. In particular, it was the level design that truly impressed me. Compared with other FPS' that have you plodding through the same themes for hours; eg. Doom3 and it's indoor base, Croteam throwing in a brand new world and theme almost every second level was very welcome.

Some players might complain that it's all too inconsistent (those some players probably complain that the gameplay is too repetitive), but it was all well tied into the story as to how they could present so many different themes and cultures.

Some of the memorable themes for me were the swamps of Deadwood, giant tree village of Woodstock, the Giant Junkyard, the entire Kleer chapter - very similar to Doom3's Hell levels, and the many little villages in different planets. Fantastic level design all the way through the game, all very colourful and bright. This may be the first game I've ever played where I didn't have to turn the lights out to see properly! My only nitpick in design was the lack of vertical design - it's all very flat and open.

Gameplay was all very enjoyable. I will say that those reviewers that complained about it being too easy on normal are very much wrong. The in-game menu describes normal as being for the "Experienced FPS Player" and that's exactly what I am. I found the gameplay to be pretty spot on. There were some parts that were a little tight on health, but ammo was always plentiful. I played through most of the game with the DBL-SG and Minigun, always with more rockets (and later cannonballs) left than what I should have. My only criticism is the final level, which went on far too long. By the time I managed to make it to the final arena, I felt it was already enough of a build up to bring on the final boss. I was wrong, it's time to battle around 20 giant spiders. By this time I was sick of it and ready to put god mode on just so I could finally get to the boss. The final level was also probably the worst looking level in the game, so it was a poor way to end the game.

One more strength Serious Sam II has is the humour, albeit sometimes too cheesy. Still, this beats NOLF/NOLFII as the funniest FPS made. And it actually had a story with two cutscenes after every single level. Good job for a game supposed to be about pure hardcore action. In fact, Serious Sam II probably has more cutscenes than Halo and Half-Life! Admittedly the story was rather straight-foward compared to something like NOLF.

Overall Serious Sam II is very good game, particularly if you don't take gaming too seriously (Halo & RTS gamers may not like this). Croteam are very tight-lipped on Serious Sam III, but I'm definitely going to be on the lookout. The Serious Engine III is said to be at least as good as Unreal Engine 3.