Malcolm Owen On March 19, 2002 at 9:12 am

Oh really, Croteam? You think you can release a sequel to a highly successful game in what feels like months after the original, offer it at a low price and expect us to believe it isn’t a cash-in? I’d love to see you try!

Serious Sam: The Second Encounter (SSTSE) is a follow up to Serious Sam: The First Encounter, which was praised by everyone for it’s gameplay and pricemark. The only real problem is that hey haven’t improved the game as much as people had hoped from a sequel to a good game.

As Sam (Egotistical Duke Nukem Wannabe), you were flying from Earth in a spaceship to Mental’s home, to stop his evil ways. Unfortunately, you crashed into South America, and must find another ship to continue your journey. As usual, Mental has seen this happening, and sent another army of beings to take you on.

As soon as you start the first level, you discover one minor mistake Croteam have made: The chainsaw. Granted, it is fun to slice up enemies, but why bundle you with both a knife AND a chainsaw from the start? And then there’s the 6 shooter that never runs out of ammo. WHY!? This now makes the knife completely redundant and the chainsaw mildly distracting! If you can shoot things over a great distance with a tiny gun with infinite bullets in complete safety, why the heck do you need to put yourself at risk by running in with a freaking chainsaw?!? Methinks someone forgot about this…The range of weapons is fairly large mind, going from the Tommy Gun (Function – Kill) and the Rocket Launcher (Function – Kill with Explosives), to the Cannon (Function – Make Sam look Superhuman by carrying around something 4 times his weight, and firing something that’s taller than he is, and still Kill)

The enemies are not much better, as most, if not all of them, were in the first game anyway. The challenge of "shoot everything" is still there, even if the main way of defending yourself against anything is just to circlestrafe with the highest powered weapon you can get your hands on. It does get a bit repetitive, with wave after wave of headless screaming bombers, and those bony things that sounds like galloping. The puzzles in it aren’t too great either, ranging from "Grab A to Open Door C whilst Fighting F-J11" to "Hit Switch B to Open Door D whilst collecting E1-3 and Avoiding Wave 3 of 15 of type P". It’s almost a formulaic game!

No-one can complain about the graphical capabilities of the engine, with many a player looking up at the sun just to see the lens flare effect. Indeed, this time around, Croteam have thrown in a "Showcase" level, demonstrating all the effects it can muster, possibly an attempt to make a marketable engine (Did someone say "Q3A" or "UT"?), so there is the slight chance of seeing even more generic FPSs from small and misguided teams around the world. A prospect I am not going to be happy with. Having said that, the engine is damn good for what it does…

As for the sound, it’s fairly OK. You get the occasional grunting from Sam on the off chance you actually get hit by something, and of course, the Duke Nukem-esque quotes at appropriate times in the story. It does have a cool feature of when an enemy is near, the music changes to a more "Drum and War" based tune, possibly to heighten the apparently "great adrenaline rush" we are all supposed to have.

It has the obligatry "Multiplayer", "Co-op" and "Splitscreen" modes, to help with the game’s longetivity, and though these do help slightly, they cannot be relied upon.

As it stands, I suggest you save your money, buy SS:TFE on budget, and when SS:TTE comes out, get SS:TSE on budget, and so on. This game does not warrant the use of the normal game price range stickers! If you want a mindless shooter, get SS:TFE. If you want a story, read Harry Potter. If you want excellently constructed puzzles, play Monkey Island 4. Only get this if you want something that requires very little thought to play through at all.


It’s practically a long tech demo with a game built in, following the mantra “Shoot first, ask questions about the huge amount of things onscreen”


Great lensflare, good detail, and long distances!


Not as inspiring as it could have been


This score is only marginally saved by the excellent graphical power of SS:TSE, but the rest just lets the side down…

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