Serious Sam Impressions

Gathering of Developers shows off its upcoming shooter.

Gathering of Developers showed off several of its games at an event in San Francisco yesterday, one of which was the eagerly anticipated Serious Sam. Though the build we were shown was relatively new, not much has changed since the engine test demo was released a few months ago, as the levels are still enormous, a huge number of enemies can be onscreen at once, and the character design is still rather bizarre. Gathering of Developers managed to show us a weapon not available in the demo, as well as one of the new stages and some new enemies.

The level shown to us did an excellent job of showcasing the engine's abilities with a series of sand dunes, vast valleys in the immediate area, and an ancient Egyptian city off in the distance. After gathering some ammunition and armor, you're immediately hit with an attack from some of the better known enemies, such as the head-carrying, rocket launcher-equipped individuals, as well as the skeletal beasts that toss a dual ball-and-chain weapon at you. Once the first wave is defeated, another wave quickly follows - this time with about three to four of the charging gold bulls and approximately ten of the rocket launcher enemies. Waves of enemies keep coming, but fortunately, there's a small lull in the action that gives you a chance to secure more armor and some health. Just over the ridge where these items are located stood two bipedal mechs and an insane number of enemies. This is where we were shown the tommy gun, a rapid fire weapon made popular by gangster movies, and it seemed like a rather effective weapon, though a little less powerful than the chain gun.

After defeating the numerous hordes of enemies, a menacing four-armed, fireball-tossing monster appears just on the top of a far-away sand dune, and it quickly charges in your direction. Though there weren't any additional enemies to worry about during the boss fight - due to fact that the difficulty level was set on easy - the boss fight itself seemed reminiscent of those in old arcade shooters. You can either destroy the fireballs while attempting to hit the boss in the process or try to avoid the fireballs completely and take on the boss in an indirect fashion. The level boss can be defeated by a few precise shots with the rocket launcher and a barrage of bullets from the tommy gun. However, upon entering the city seen from a distance at the start of the level, you're confronted with two towering mechs and another horde of enemies. Needless to say, it's a good idea to save often in Serious Sam, since what often seems like the last battle usually isn't.

Visually, the game looks very similar to the test version, with no noticeable differences in texture quality, special effects, or the complexity of the different models. The reflective surfaces, such as pistols and shotguns, looked a little better, but this could easily be attributed to the high-end hardware in use at the event. The full retail version of Serious Sam, complete with multiplayer modes, will be published in Q1 2001 by On Deck Interactive, the value division of Gathering of Developers.

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