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  1. #1
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    In here, I rant and ramble about stuff...

    ...that are videogames. In particular, those games that I find/found to be bitterly disappointing for whatever reason. Oh-ho, what a surprise. The resident pessimist finds yet more to complain about, in a subject that there's a lot to be disappointed over. And today's victim subject is... Serious Sam.

    When it was released in 2001, Serious Sam was hailed by many as 'the spiritual successor' to id Software's aging classics, Doom and Quake. Both of these had been revolutionary games on release, with Doom itself being predicted by id Software as "the number one cause of decreased productivity in businesses around the world", a prediction which was accurate enough; Doom was both occupying the time of employees and clogging computer networks with traffic caused by the then-new 'sport' of deathmatch. Quake went further and introduced full-3D environments, client/server multiplayer over the internet, and the engine used is responsible for an enormous number of games around today, built on the original technology.

    Anyway, enough of that history and back to the point. At a glance, this praise for Sam seems fitting; after all, the 'plot' is paper-thin, and the game heavily involves the use of big guns to kill hundreds of vicious monsters/aliens. This alone puts it in place alongside id's groundbreaking efforts, surely?

    No. Because THAT is where the similarity ends. Sadly, there is nothing revolutionary about Serious Sam, at least nothing good. Not one positively groundbreaking feature was to be found. Because...

    Sam is a terribly bland game.

    Allow me to explain. I've heard people complain about Doom/Quake, calling them 'mindless shooters' -- well this may well be the case in the sense that there's no deep story to mull over (there's barely any story at all), no long-winded all-talky cutscenes to help you try and understand the purpose of the characters (or 'character'), and no NPC interaction other than plugging some murderous 10ft abomination with several dozen rounds of ammo, but to call them 'mindless' is wrong. Very wrong.

    Both of id's games (and most of their sequels) feature bizarre, labyrinthine maps that require the player to at least keep some bearing on where they've been and to look out for distinguishing features of each map for easier navigation and less time spent running around in circles/into walls. Add to this all manner of environmental hazards (acid/lava, crushers, explosives, etc) and sudden monster ambushes, and you'll find yourself thinking a lot more than the obvious lack of story would have anyone believe.

    This is not at all the case in Sam. I can give a description of nearly every level in one sentence. Ready?

    "Enter room, shoot swarm of bad guys that either run in through a doorway or from holes in the ceiling, proceed through a newly-opened door once they'e dead and get ready to repeat this task until the end."

    No, really. That's about it. The map design isn't even interesting, as most of the fights with these aforementioned swarms take place in large box-like arenas, with little to no variation in height or hazards. Sure, there are some moments of looking for switches or items to unlock some doors, but you'll get no prizes for guessing what happens when you find these switches/items, and what happens when you use them. And then what happens when you go through the previously locked door.

    I could go on about this, but there's really nothing else to say because that's all there is to it. It's not technically a bad game, it's just staggeringly boring and monotonous. Even the finale largely consists of running in a straight line to the final arena (lo! Another great big ****ing box of a room!) while yet again gunning down row after row of incoming feeble opposition. Serious Sam is a game so brainlessly narrow in design, it manages to make the gameplay in 1992's Wolfenstein 3D look more complex than the unnecessarily detailed Rainbow Six series. All I can honestly say it's got is an entertaining co-op mode, and even then that's only because servers descend into some stupid teamkilling mess.

    Oh god, that last sentence just says it all.
    "It turned out that the ghost was just Mr. Finley, who ran the amusement park. The spooky part is that, as soon as the ghost appeared, the teenagers' dog began to speak! And it spoke in a tortured parody of human speech: 'relp me, Raggy,' it would say. 'I am an abomination and rould re rilled. Rill re, Raggy.'"

  2. #2
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    RE: In here, I rant and ramble about stuff...

    First of all, well done on that brilliantly written review (You need to write for a website or a blog, or something). I looked at this game a few years back, and kind of assumed it would be like this. A boring, uninspired garden variety shooter. At the time, I didn't even know it was from Id, But looking back now, that hurts especially bad.

  3. #3
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    RE: In here, I rant and ramble about stuff...

    Oh, I should probably have mentioned that Croteam were behind Serious Sam, and not id Software. I'll admit that when I first read the 'spiritual successor' LIE myself the first time all those years ago, I assumed that id were in someway responsible. Thankfully I was very wrong.

    As for writing a blog or reviews for websites, it has crossed my mind in the past (and thanks for the further encouragement), but I'm just so incredibly spontaneous and disorganised with this sort of thing that any form of 'regular' content anywhere is about as likely as me building a theme park on the moon.

    Well alright, maybe I'm not that bad.
    "It turned out that the ghost was just Mr. Finley, who ran the amusement park. The spooky part is that, as soon as the ghost appeared, the teenagers' dog began to speak! And it spoke in a tortured parody of human speech: 'relp me, Raggy,' it would say. 'I am an abomination and rould re rilled. Rill re, Raggy.'"

  4. #4
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    RE: In here, I rant and ramble about stuff...

    Notable games developed by Croteam

    Football Glory (1994)
    Inordinate Desire (1995)
    Five-A-Side Soccer (1998)
    Serious Sam: The First Encounter (2001)
    Serious Sam: The Second Encounter (2002)
    Serious Sam II (2005)
    Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter (2009)
    Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter (2010)
    Serious Sam 3: BFE (2011)

    Oh....
    No wonder I'd never heard of them.

  5. #5
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    RE: In here, I rant and ramble about stuff...

    There is absolutely no information available for those first three games on GameFAQs, other than that Croteam did indeed develop them and that they were released in those years.

    No reviews. No scores. No links to other sites. Nothing.

    I've yet to play any other Serious Sam games after The Second Encounter (which is pretty much the first game again anyway with a change of scenery), and to be quite honest I don't think I'll bother any time soon. After seeing several videos of the recently-released BFE, it seems that the core monotony sadly remains intact a decade later.

    Oh well.
    "It turned out that the ghost was just Mr. Finley, who ran the amusement park. The spooky part is that, as soon as the ghost appeared, the teenagers' dog began to speak! And it spoke in a tortured parody of human speech: 'relp me, Raggy,' it would say. 'I am an abomination and rould re rilled. Rill re, Raggy.'"

  6. #6
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    RE: In here, I rant and ramble about stuff...

    I'll have to agree with you here. I don't think Serious Sam was close to being brilliant. However, nor do I think it was absolute rubbish. It was just pretty average. I got the double pack for the Xbox I think, which had the First and Second Encounters. The bad level design is glaringly obvious, and you're right about huge open environments with absolutely no design within them except a bunch of suicide bombers charging towards you screaming "AAAAAHHHHHHHHH!", and a few health packs.

    For some reason, I played it all the way through. Maybe I was just very bored. I played a lot of Xbox games back then. Due to nostalgia and a tempting promotion, over a year ago I got Serious Sam HD from the Xbox Live Marketplace. It was only then that I realised how bland the game I sort of enjoyed really was. I just can't play it. Bores me to hell. I can't remember if the HD release has a co-op mode, but that's the only way I could see myself getting through it again.
    Gene: "Have faith in me guys, enjoy the ride—you're in good hands. I can handle this. I can do it!"
    Jim: "How do you know?"
    Gene: "I don't!"
    Jim: "I knew it."
    Gene: "That's okay. There's a first time for everything!"

    Anime and Steam info

    Anime-Planet.com - anime | manga | reviews



  7. #7
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    RE: In here, I rant and ramble about stuff...

    That's all it is; a middle-of-the-road FPS with nothing worth shouting about. The engine deserved much better content, because I can say for certain that the controls at least felt solid and responsive, with no bizarre physics causing unnecessary frustration.
    "It turned out that the ghost was just Mr. Finley, who ran the amusement park. The spooky part is that, as soon as the ghost appeared, the teenagers' dog began to speak! And it spoke in a tortured parody of human speech: 'relp me, Raggy,' it would say. 'I am an abomination and rould re rilled. Rill re, Raggy.'"

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