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Serious Sam: Next Encounter Review

Developer: Climax Publisher: Global Star
Release Date: April 13, 2004 Available On: GCN and PS2

Serious Sam is an action-shooter for the PS2 and GCN. Published by Global Star, Serious Sam: Next Encounter is the first game in the series to make its way to these two systems. The last game in the series, Serious Sam, for the Xbox, was not enough of a hit with the public to warrant another Xbox release. The level layouts in this title are straightforward. The procedure is simple enough: walk into a giant courtyard, kill every living creature, and then move on. Doors ahead and behind you will be locked, requiring you to dispose of the scum in the rooms before continuing on your journey. Sometimes doors require explosives to give way. Other times puzzles need to be solved.

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Circles around enemies show health. Green means they have high health, yellow means medium health, and red means low health. Most enemies will take only one hit to kill on easy, but others can take upwards of ten from dual pistols. Boss battles offer little challenge. The first boss battle I clocked in at about a minute. After the first though, the difficulty does increase and you might have to play it a few times. Next Encounter offers some seriously fast-paced shooting action, not offered in most other shooters. Next Encounter’s fast-paced action is inspired by arcade and PC shooters. There are some tense moments, but you never get the feeling that you are ever in great danger of losing your life.

A scoring system in Next Encounter awards players at the end of levels. Unlockable features are available if you rack up the points and receive awards. During gameplay, you are generously supplied with health, ammo, and armor, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to score high, get a good time, and stack up the combos. There’s a hodgepodge of randomly placed enemies, that contrast with environments and each other, so be prepared for varying attributes.

Let’s take an examination of the graphics. Some of the ugliest games must have copulated to come up with the disappointing graphics in this game. There’s an overall lack of enemy model variety and all environments/monsters are crude looking. The lighting effects are practically non-existent. Water looks like it would be in a last-generation game like Turok. The one plus is a solid frame rate, even in rooms dense with monsters. The on-screen menu consists of weapons selection, ammo, health, armor, etc. Health is displayed in the bottom left of the screen. 200 is the maximum amount of health allowed, but it depletes slowly until it reaches 100. Armor is displayed above the health meter. Armor can also go up to 200 and again, it depletes to 100 slowly.

Here’s a quick rundown of the controls. Sam is moved with the left analog stick, while the camera (inverted) is moved with the right analog stick. Triangle is used to access the “neural interface�, R2 to fire, L2 to jump, R1/L1 to swap weapons, square to toggle ammo types, reload pistol, and zoom for the sniper, and X for the “use� button. The use button pulls levers and switches. The controls feel natural, except I don’t like the fire button, since the natural position of fire on the PS2 is R1.

Finally, Next Encounter offers both offline and online multi-player. Offline modes include 4 game types. Co-operative allows you and a friend to play the single-player missions together. Death match is a mode that I’m sure you know about already. Hold-the-flag is played like capture the flag, but you are to hold it for the longest time to win. Pass-the-bomb is like hot potato. You pass the bomb by shooting and killing your opponent, before the bomb explodes.

Serious Sam: Next Encounter is definitely a budget title. The graphics are gritty, the sound is bland, the AI isn’t all that difficult, and things just get repetitive after a few hours. The single-player game should take around ten hours to beat, but the multi-player modes aren’t inspiring enough to warrant much playtime. I’m reluctant to recommend either a rental or purchase, since both might be a waste of money, but if you had to choose, pick the latter, due to the cheap price.

Graphics: 2
Sound: 4
Gameplay: 5
Creativity: 3
Replay Value/Game Length: 6
Final: 3.8
Written by Kyle Review Guide