Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone







Serious Sam may not be a groundbreaking game in regards to originality or gameplay, but what it does possess is the ability to take a true fan of the classic first-person shooter genre back the days when large amounts of firepower and ammo and enemies were all that was needed to have a great time on one’s computer. With the advent of better and newer technology that wasn’t available in the Doom and Duke Nukem days of computer gaming, the creators Serious Sam are able to take us on an updated yet truly nostalgic romp through the heyday of first-person action.

Every once in awhile a gaming title comes around that transcends the boundaries of creativity and ingenuity, setting a new standard of game play within the industry.  Serious Sam isn’t one of those games, however…and it doesn’t pretend to be. What Sam aspires to do is bring back the glory days of gaming, where intense action and fast paced arcade style fun was the main calling of the dedicated video gaming acolyte. Blowing up the bad guys with a varied arsenal of weapons hasn’t been this fun since the early 90’s, and that bit of gaming nostalgia is what makes Serious Sam a seriously fun game.  

The game play within Serious Sam takes us on a journey to the past, borrowing from such classic first person shooters (FPS) from the heyday of the genre. The characteristics that were prevalent within such titles as Doom and Duke Nukem can definitely be found within Sam, and any gamer found for the memories that these classic games sparked will be extremely delighted. Though that’s were the comparisons between the old and the new end, however, and where the new technology involved with developing Serious Sam takes place, showing game players what a dose of modern day designing can do with an older theme.

As with most older FPS styled games, the plot and storyline pale in comparison to what the game is really about: total all out carnage. The designers at Croteam opted to keep this approach while developing Serious Sam, so no outlandish surprises involving the overall theme ever came to fruition. The basic story behind the game deals with an alien war and invasion sometime in the 21st century in which humanity is losing. A discovery of great importance in Egypt could lead to the salvation or complete destruction of the human race, and its up to the war hero Sam ‘Serious’ Stone to travel back in time and solve the mystery that lies in ancient Egypt.  Armed with various weapons of destruction, our hero must traverse the deserts and ancient structures in Egypt, battling hordes of aliens and demons in order to save mankind.

The game play behind Sam runs about as simplistic as the storyline. Again, that isn’t a bad thing whatsoever considering the intent of the game. The player is reminded once again from the very first encounter that this game is about blowing enemies and villains up…and quite a few of them, actually.  Croteam has gone to great lengths to develop their own unique brand of weapons and cannon fodder in order to give the game its own sense of individuality. From such FPS standards as the rocket launcher and knife,  to your not-so-standard weaponry like the laser cannon and tommygun, the designers of Sam have made the ‘blasting concept’ something quite interesting. The icing on the cake when it comes to weaponry on this game comes from the acquisition of a hand held cannon, believe it or not. Nothing felt as good as to see the hordes of alien legions literally bowled over with the powerful blast of a the Volkswagon sized cannon ball fired from this little gem. A truly satisfying experience.

As for the aliens/creatures/demons that make up the crux of what passes for enemies within Serious Sam, they also stand out as unique for the most part, and sometimes even comical when compared to other FPS. Over 15 unique specimens of villainy are found throughout the various levels of the game, each with their own unique abilities and attributes. Several of the most notable include the wereboar, a fast moving behemoth that plows through and knocks the player into the air. There are also headless Sirian soldiers that come screaming at you (without a mouth?) as a suicide bomber, with an explosive device in each hand; and the Lava Golems, sporting molten lava projectiles that become smaller versions of the golems themselves if they miss their intended target.  

For the majority of the game, there is a noticeable lack of the standard FPS ‘boss’ character that denotes the ending of a current level of game play. Instead, Croteam has opted for a slightly different approach, consisting of multiple waves of massive attack forces.  An interesting concept to say the least, considering the problems that most gamers experience when pitted against a seemingly almost unbeatable ‘boss’ figure, stopping and game progress. The fallback with this style of game play, however, comes from the repetitiveness that occurs within the battles. Halfway through the game it just becomes tiresome, as you circle and fire repeatedly at the onslaught thrown at you time and time again.

Serious Sam may have quite a lot in common to its elder FPS counterparts when it comes to game play and theme, but the technology leap from the early 1990’s has been tremendous. This in itself gives Sam a modern and superior feel when compared to the old school titles. Utilizing their own game design engine (known as the Serious-Engine), Croteam have produced 3-D models within the game that are vivid as well as extremely detailed.  The massive landscapes that make up ancient Egypt in Sam have a mostly realistic feel to them, matching other feats of game engineering not unlike Unreal and Half-life.   Frame rates were smooth even at the higher end of screen resolution settings, with rarely a slowdown even with minimal support from older 3-D acceleration cards. This was definitely a surprise when you consider the amount of characters on the screen at the same time, during the major attacks.  

A few added bonuses that happen to come with the full version of Serious Sam include LAN and internet support for multi-player gaming, and even a full game editor. A definite plus for those wanting to create their own carnage laden levels. Custom level downloads from Serious Sam fans shouldn’t be too far in the future. Also, sticking with the recent trend from smaller and independent game companies, Croteam and publisher GOD Games have taken the inexpensive route to pricing this game, charging about half of what normal games cost (roughly $19.99).  A definite bargain for most avid gamers.

All in all, Serious Sam is a highly addictive and fun game, bringing back the best of what made the genre of first person shooters such a success in the first place. High action, great graphics, comedy, and a load of ammunition makes Sam a standout title in the FPS world that any classic gaming fan will adore immediately.