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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: February 26, 2002
Most of us love to see an underdog come out of nowhere to become a smashing success. Such was exactly what happened when little Croteam from Croatia released Serious Sam last year, only to find it quickly become both hugely popular with consumers and applauded by critics. It was a fun, whimsical old school first-person shooter that captured the hearts of most who played it. Now less than a year later, Croteam has released Serious Sam: The Second Encounter — can the little guy win again?
The plot of the second episode begins right where the first one ended — early in the 22nd century — and an introductory video links the two together. After vanquishing untold numbers of foes under the control of a powerful being from the planet Sirius known as Mental, our hero Sam Stone boards an alien spaceship to confront the arch-villain. Unfortunately, he loses control of the craft and it crashes back on Earth in the South American mountains. Now surrounded by an even stronger array of Mental’s minions, you play the role of Sam as he makes yet another valiant effort to save the world.
Serious Sam: The Second Encounter dwarfs its predecessor, encompassing 12 levels spread over three gargantuan environments. As before, you move seamlessly between amazing indoor and outdoor settings, although you bypass ancient Egypt this time. You visit, in sequence, the Mayan city of Teotihuacan in Mesoamerica, the grandeur of Persepolis in Babylon, and a spooky medieval European village. As I passed through these three worlds, I liked each better than the last, with the final setting — containing quaint homes, snowy mountains, and haunted graveyards — being the most special and differing from the South American and Middle Eastern environments both in physical appearance and in the nature of the challenges presented. Unfortunately, this final locale is also where you spend the shortest amount of time.
In addition to the lovable crew of monsters from the first episode of Serious Sam, such as the memorable Kleer Skeleton and Sirian Werebull, this second episode introduces seven impressive new foes. My favorite is Cucurbito the Pumpkin, a giant redneck wearing overalls and toting a chainsaw with a jack-o-lantern for a head. Other impressive additions include the Fiendian Reptiloid Demon, a mammoth crimson alien throwing fireballs, and the Zorg Mercenary and Commander from Beelmez IV, rapid-moving alien officers armed with laser weaponry. The bosses are not disappointing and present quite interesting challenges, with the most impressive being the awesome and grotesque one after the second world; but at the same time, they do not blow you away with their innovation or overwhelming power. While none of the added enemies dramatically alters the gameplay from the original, their inclusion makes it considerably more entertaining.
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