It's no wonder that Croteam have yet to outdo this game, as it is damn near perfect.
Looking back on the history of video games, there may arguably be one major element that separates the old school from the new: As technology advances, money becomes a greater driving factor for production. What had at one point been someone's personal creative project may require hundreds of personnelIt's no wonder that Croteam have yet to outdo this game, as it is damn near perfect.
Looking back on the history of video games, there may arguably be one major element that separates the old school from the new: As technology advances, money becomes a greater driving factor for production. What had at one point been someone's personal creative project may require hundreds of personnel and potentially millions of dollars to pull off in today's market. Even disregarding how many games have come out in the past 10-20 years that have been obvious cash grabs, there's still an element of honest companies trying to satisfy expectations based on the trends of other popular games of the time. This brings us to Serious Sam: A shining example of what happens when you let passionate, hungry developers be their own greatest critic.
While many developers started focusing on adding a more cinematic approach to their games around the PS3 era, this came from just before that. While the first 3D gaming systems were severely limited in hardware and processing power, by the time we reached PS2 and X Box, developers were finally being able to enact concepts they couldn't initially pull off, while still having more incentive to make a game as memorable as possible in every manner other than graphics. In a way, this could be considered one of the furthest true progressions from old-school gaming, as this game excels at everything that made old games classics, while taking elements of some staple 90s FPS games (like Doom) and making them better.
Best parts of this game:
- The level design is vast* and expertly layered. Secrets are consistent, but never cheaply hidden, and almost never obvious. The act of uncovering secrets can legitimately keep you on your toes as they do WAY too good of a job at either bringing up enemies when you least expect or taking you to an area you didn't initially conceive of being part of the environment. I'm SERIOUS when I say that these people mastered the average person's expectations to the point of being able to toy with it, like a master poker player who already knew what your next move was going to be.
*Oftentimes, you'll think to yourself "there's no way they programmed this entire area just to hide a secret." They did. And good thing, because it was way too tempting to explore, especially as a breather from the constant action.
- The enemies. The kinds of enemies and how many you have to take on. This is the absolute epitome of triggering "fight or flight" mentality, minus the "flight." While there are enemies with different levels of intimidating, there's one particular enemy that's pretty much officially synonymous with this whole series; For anyone who doesn't know, this game is the perfect first experience with it. My first experience: "What's that sound? What's that thing running straight at me from the distance? Why's he yelling like that? OH GOD, WHERE IS IT'S HEAD!? WHY IS IT SCREAMING WITHOUT A FACE!?" [Starts running backwards] ...Ahem.
While you would think facing literally tens of thousands of enemies throughout the game would get repetitive, it's kind of crazy how the constant variations in the environment actually make the repetition more of a strength; There's a very specific dynamic that keeps this game from being overbearing, between excessive battle scenarios, explorable environments, and a very ironic sense of humor. This leads me to my next point:
- The writing. I'm assuming if you've come across this game, you've at some point heard of Duke Nukem. While the Duke Nukem series ranges from endearing humor at one point to tastelessly low brow and potentially misogynistic, the character writing here takes a cue from the more self-aware glimpses of Duke Nukem's character, and in turn makes a cliche action hero that's so over-the-top that it enters the realm of pure satire. Not to mention, I would NEVER expect Sam to indicate anything remotely condescending to a female character as he's more the type of person who accepts that life is chaos and jumps straight into it rather than trying to feed a negative, insecure stereotype of manliness; The satire wouldn't be as effective if it wasn't thoroughly aware of what normal should be, or what really makes a man a... manly man.
While later Serious Sam games would falter here or there by making Sam seem like a sort of expectable, gritty action hero, every line in this game adds to him effectively being the epitome of a protagonist for a totally over-the-top game with just the right aspects of believability to make suspending disbelief feel realistically welcome.
Altogether, this title is an absolute gem for enthusiasts of intense FPS games, or anyone who longs for a different era of game development when the GAME was the absolute most important part of a video game. This is a prime example of a games flaws being used as it's strengths, and I still enjoy this more than any specific Doom game that's come out to date.… Expand