Take 2 Interactive – Serious Sam review

Duke Nukem clone?
Photo of Take 2 Interactive – Serious Sam

Hmm… Serious Sam is an odd name for a video game character. Sounds like one of Desperate Dan’s long lost relatives. There’s probably a large family of alliterative heroes out there somewhere; you can just imagine the re-union… “It’s good to see you again, Sam. Fancy a slice of cow pie? Heard anything from Incontinent Ian lately?”. Or maybe that’s just us…

It’s pretty easy to sum up Sam’s character in this 3D shooter, in fact two words will suffice – Duke Nukem. He has the same crass sense of humour, coming out with wry asides as he blasts away all the alien dirt-bags who dare darken his proverbial door. That’s right, this game is another exercise in xenophobia, as once again a hostile race threatens Earth’s very existence (as if we don’t do a good enough job ourselves).

Mr. Sam – as we presume his first name is Serious – is the hero of the piece who has to go back in time to ancient Egypt, assemble the elements of an archaic key and thwart the aliens; presumably by locking some sort of giant galactic door. Well, who cares about specifics – the real plot is, of course, to blow everything away.

It’s not so much ‘Serious Sam’, though, as ‘Seriously the Same’ – sadly there’s very little original here. It’s more formulaic than ‘A’ Level Maths, with the same tired old ‘pick up the armour, then the health, grab another gun, shoot another bad guy’ routine… which is kind of uninspiring. However, after playing for a bit it does become clear that there is a certain amount of polish here.

The beasts you face are quite impressively varied, with many different attacks, ranging from giant arachnids armed with chainguns (bit of a Doom flashback) to headless corpses that lob grenades at you. Alas poor Yoric, he couldn’t count so well…

Visually it must also be given the thumbs up, with some top rendered Egyptian environments – and the sound is quality too. There are definite moments where the guttural growls and sudden appearance of some nasty thingamajig will make you jump in your chair.

Also included for the first time in a 3D shooter on the PC, at least to our knowledge, is a split screen two player mode, so those without a LAN or Net access can dally with multi-player action. It doesn’t work too well though, especially seeing as only one player can use the mouse. Is there anyone left out there who still plays Quake-style games with the keyboard? Shut up at the back!

Despite the interesting monsters and fairly impressive graphics (oh, and a very nicely implemented level editor), Serious Sam fails to make a positive impression. We’ve seen it all before and far too often.

Company: Take 2 Interactive

Serious Sam isn't a bad game, by any means. It's reasonably amusing in places and the monsters are very well done, plus the graphics and especially the sound are commendable. But the lack of originality mars the game quite considerably, and only those who are desperate for another 3D shooter fix will want to splash out on it.