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July 12, 2004
Serious Sam: Next Encounter - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
14/5/2004Take TwoClimax/Croteam1-2, 8 MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
108KBStereoYesNoNoneNo

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It does look nicer in action...
There have been quite a few First Person Shooters (FPS's) on the Playstation 2 to date. Titles such as TimeSplitters 2, Red Faction and Medal of Honor: Frontline amazed us while others like EA's Medal of Honor: Rising Sun utterly failed to live up to the hype. Needless to say all of those titles have each sold well in excess of a million copies worldwide with the FPS genre being one of the most popular today. Serious Sam has been around on the PC since March 2001. The first game was widely acclaimed as one of the most enjoyable FPS's in years with an odd sense of humour. This PS2 game isn't a port of that original, but rather an entirely new game built for the console.

Ever since the discovery of ancient Sirian artifacts at the beginning of the 21st century, Earth and its solar system have attracted the attention of the evil being known as Mental. Countless times he has sent back his hordes of deprived monsters to attack humanity, beaming them back in time to steal the power of the Sirians. Each time one man has stood in their way - Serious Sam. If Mental's forces beat Sam to this powerful time-traveling artifact, it's last call for humanity! This is serious.

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Using the sniper rifle.
The main game comprises 32 levels spread across three time periods including ancient Rome, feudal China and the legendary Atlantis. Each is suitably varied in architecture although, as discussed later, not exactly the best looking game ever. As with most other FPS's the analogue sticks are used to run around the levels and target the crosshairs, L1 and R1 allow you to change between weapons, R2 is used to fire the weapons and L2 to jump. All-in-all the controls are well laid out and responsive to your commands.

Twelve weapons are available in Serious Sam: Next Encounter include the chainsaw (which is tremendous fun!), desert hawk pistol, double barreled shotgun, grenade launcher, mini-gun, sniper rifle, mines and grenades to name a few. Pickups are littered throughout the levels and include ammo for the weapons, shields, and health. During the levels it is possible to activate a Super Combo Killing Spree where same will score higher and move faster for a short period of time. This is activated by killing a large number of enemies within a short period of time.

One addition to this game is the ability for Sam to jump in three vehicles including a jeep, submarine and combine which allow you to tear through the levels at a frantic pace. It's a tremendous addition that adds plenty of fun to the game. At the completion of each level players are awarded a score, which then determines a medal which you area awarded. Gold medals contribute to unlocking new features including levels and characters for multi-player matches.

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Racking up some combos.
Speaking of multi-player this game includes a 2-player cooperative mode allowing two people to play through the entire game together. Of course not everyone wants to be friends so the developers have added in deathmatch. Even better is the news that this game includes online gameplay through the Network Adapter for up to eight people with game modes including Deathmatch, Hold The Flag, and Pass The Bomb.

Graphically this game looks like shit in still screenshots - plain and simple. What you can't see here is the frantic pace and the often dozens of enemies approaching your location making this game one of the busiest ever put to screen. The low polygon count and average texturing also ensure that the game maintains a rock steady frame rate, crucial to the enjoyment of any fast paced game such as this.

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One of the online games.
Sound is another area where Serious Sam: Next Encounter inspires very little. The music is forgettable while the sound effects hardly rate a mention. The speech, however, is often humorous in a Duke Nukem kind of way, but very poorly acted. There's won't be any awards in this category that's for sure.

If you need games to look stunning and sound incredible then you certainly won't like Serious Sam: Next Encounter - both categories are very average. If you can look past that, however, then you'll find a very enjoyable, and often engrossing game which has been released at the very generous budget price of $AU49.95. Throw in some online gameplay, which admittedly was a bit laggy from our connection, and this is one great package. Serious Sam: Next Encounter is highly recommended for FPS fans and/or those on a budget.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSLow polygon count and average textures do allow a solid frame rate.
56%
SOUNDEverything is pretty average in this area, but nothing is horrific.
65%
GAMEPLAYProbably one of the most enjoyable FPS's on Playstation 2 to date.
80%
VALUENot overly long, but multi-player both on and offline adds longevity.
79%
OVERALLAlmost nothing was expected of Serious Sam: Next Encounter however the game turned out to be a real gem. If you can overlook the very average graphics and sound then you will find a highly enjoyable title, and at a budget price too!
74%

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