Serious Sam II Hands-On Impressions - Crazy Weapons, Crazy Monsters

We sit down with the upcoming Serious Sam sequel for some serious shooting that turns out to be, surprisingly enough, seriously crazy.


We recently had a chance to get our hands on an early version of Serious Sam II for the PC. The game is actually nearing completion, as almost all the content in the game's 40-plus levels is done, and the developer, one Croteam of Croatia, is busy shearing up the rest. We had a chance to both play through part of a level and take a look at several new levels we hadn't seen.

Just like with the previous games, Serious Sam II will have an extremely bright, colorful look to it, perhaps as a counterpoint to some of the other popular shooters out there that emphasize realism, grit, and dark environments. We had a chance to try out just about every weapon in the game, including the miniature circular saw that hero "Serious" Sam Stone uses as a melee weapon, along with his dual pistols, combat shotgun, grenade launcher, rocket launcher, sniper rifle, and improved version of the cannon. For those who haven't played any of the previous Serious Sam games, that cannon is an actual in the kind you'd expect to find on a 17th-century pirate ship rather than in the hands of a muscle-bound tough guy. But that's the kind of hardware you'll carry in the game, along with bomb-dropping parakeets (which fly cheerfully into enemies before exploding) and the "serious bomb of death," a smart-bomb-type weapon that immediately destroys all enemies onscreen. Fortunately, Sam will also be able to toss hand grenades without having to swap weapons. You know, for those rare occasions when he needs to blow up a bunch of enemies.

This is 'Serious' Sam Stone. He doesn't know karate. But he does know something else.
This is 'Serious' Sam Stone. He doesn't know karate. But he does know something else.

The level we played was an underground military base, which, in proper Serious Sam fashion, was manned by Day-Glo-colored aliens with robot arms and cackling witches with bubbling cauldrons. (Yes, witches. This is Serious Sam we're talking about here). Like in the previous games in the series, the action seemed fast-paced. And on the highest "serious" level of difficulty, the action was also nonstop, as enemies constantly attempted to blast us or trample us. The game will have more than 40 different enemies, each with its own different behavioral patterns, including alien sergeants who provide a morale bonus to their troops; cackling witches who ride broomsticks (which explode into puffs of delicate purple smoke when destroyed); and three different types of the galloping kleer skeletons that include standard, metal-plated, and flying name just a few. Now that Sam is up against more enemies that are smarter this time around, backpedaling while keeping your trigger pulled won't always cut it.

We also had a chance to skip around to a few different levels, which not only featured some of the game's many vehicles (like the flying hovertank, which essentially handles like a slow-moving jet fighter), but also offered much of the game's bizarre sense of humor. In addition to making not-so-subtle references to other games with levels like "Doomed Canyon" (a hellish, lava-filled world full of flying demons) and "Unreal Wasteland" (see if you can catch the reference there), you can also expect to see references to various motion pictures in the game's cinematic cutscenes, as well as references to more-obscure stuff, like Mexican soap operas.

Apparently, according to the game's story, Sam is working with a group of peaceful alien sorcerers to recover the fragments of a medallion that will help him defeat his archnemesis, the alien overlord known as Notorious Mental. Sam will also receive help from Netricsa Lite, an upgraded version of the supercomputer program that aided him (and catalogued all his weapons and enemies) in the previous games. The new program actually takes the form of a female character who exchanges verbal barbs with Sam as he makes his way through the story. And the story is really just an excuse to stomp through seven different worlds, which include environments like jungles, deserts, and the Fifth Element-style skyways of Siriusopolis. Fortunately, the game will also support online multiplayer, including the series' infamous cooperative multiplayer for up to four people on the Xbox and up to 16 people on the PC. Considering its colorful look, warped sense of humor, and over-the-top action, Serious Sam II looks like it should offer plenty of bang for your buck, in addition to some extra crazy tossed in for free. The game is scheduled for release later this year on the Xbox and PC.

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