I've been playing Serious Sam lately. Not the new game, but the first two encounters. No, not the new releases redesigned in HD, but the old ones. Retro. :) GOG sold both of 'em at less than half price (about two bucks each) last weekend... so I bought them, and I've been enjoying them since!
I've played both of them a few years back, but I never got very far. I think I completed the first, but it wasn't without cheats, and the second... is a blur. I glimpse some nostalgia when running through it now, but most of it I don't remember at all. How far did I get last time? The phone booth at the start of the game, I remember that, and the secret valley with the three temples, but after that nothing seems familiar. Maybe the boss will. Or maybe the puzzles puzzled me too much that time, maybe... enough maybes. I'm running through the second one now and it's going well this time around. The first one was tough, but I made it! In NORMAL mode, wooyeah! At the end I was like UGH, but it went okay.
Then I played it in tourist mode. Twice the health. Ammunition doubled. Enemies dealing ridiculously little damage. Enemies fewer than normal. It was a breeze. No challenge at all. I didn't die a single time. Even when the almighty Ugh stepped on me in the last level, which is usually a one-step-kill, I prevailed! It didn't take more than three hours either. Normal mode took double, and that's probably not counting all the times I was brutally slaughtered by a torment of vicious fiends, or impulsively quit the game in a sudden surge of aggravation... which happened more often than I'd like to admit.
Serious Sam is a serious game-set. It differs from regular games in that the enemies often come in waves, spawning from nowhere, running around in hordes, requiring combined agility and intense firepower with a strategical set of weapons. All games require strategy, but here the different weapons all have pros and cons. They're effective against different enemies, in different locations, and you often have to toggle artillery a lot to clear a wave. The only downside is the surplus of ammo, especially in the boss fights. Saving up on ammunition isn't as rewarding in this game as it could be, but still, it's different, and it's fun. After playing traditional FPS for a while it's a breath of freshness. It also has a lot of comedy, both in speech, text and level design. Like the Crollywood Hills in the second game, or the call from the spaceship when Sam's on his way to Sirius, or the... well just play the game, it doesn't have the same dark-tense-depressing setting that most action games do either. Levels are bright and beautiful. In the first encounter they're sandy and Egyptian. In the second their lush and Mayan.
Another thing about this game is the maps. They're huge, and they're open... mostly. Not to mention graphically enhanced by the Serious engine (it's seriously called that) so that it doesn't look like it's a decade-old at all. It really was ahead of its time back in 1999. Actually the game's from 2001 but that doesn't rhyme. Anyway, is the HD version really worth buying when the original had this good graphics? I'm not saying they're on par with the graphics of the newer games, but still, the game looks good. Maybe timeless. It runs fast, too, considering how large and detailed the levels often are. There's a surplus of settings you can play around with if you want to change how things work or look, and there's even a 'Technology Test' level in which effects and models from the game are showcased. It's a game with a lot of customizability.
Oh yeah, you can load custom mods and maps, too, and it supports both split-screen and online play, a feature I appreciate greatly (especially the split screen, which most games don't support) even if I don't plan on using it anytime soon. It strikes me now, btw, that split screen would work really well with dual monitors! You could even patch in two different keyboards and use two different desks! Just a sudden realization. Or you could run a local network. That works as well.As for online play, there are still a couple of servers running on the First Encounter, and starting your own is easy. On the Second there seem to be about a hundred. Not a surprise since the second game has all the weaponry and foes and stuff that the first one does, including a bunch of neat additions, not to mention even better graphics. So yeah, people are still playing! Nice! :)
I am recording the game as I play btw, and will be posting all footage sooner or later. Excluding unsuccessful attempts at liquidating enemies or blowing myself up with a wrongly lobbed grenade. I say sooner or later because my upload speed is low and the video files for this game currently amount to 38GB, and I'm not done. I've uploaded a third though, so there is hope. And for all of you reading this that haven't tried this game, you shouldn't miss it, it's a classic. I'm serious.