These days, it seems like many game developers are trying to focus more on making "art" rather than making "games." While there's nothing wrong with that concept and there is certainly plenty to be said for making wholly engaging titles such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution, sometimes you just want a popcorn experience — a game that simply exists to be enjoyed in the moment. That concept was the genesis behind the creation of the Serious Sam franchise, and it still holds true today.
The next major release in the franchise, Serious Sam 3: BFE, is set for October, but that isn't the only helping of Sam available. While Croteam works on the main series, publisher Devolver Digital has lined up a series of "indie" games based on the Sam license but created by smaller teams that have proven their expertise. The first game in the indie lineup, Serious Sam Double D comes to us from Mommy's Best Games who is best known for the XBLIG release Weapon of Choice.
Those who have downloaded Weapon of Choice should have an idea of what to expect from Serious Sam Double D, but if you haven't the game can be described in three simple words: blow sh*t up. Serious Sam Double D is not a deep game, but it never pretends to be. Action and humor are always unabashedly at the forefront, with a level of outrageousness that is enjoyably over the top.
The game reunites Sam with his most important ally – his guns. Sure, a hot AI (Netricsa) and a metal soundtrack are also along for the ride, but in Serious Sam Double D, the main focus is on the weapons thanks to the nifty little gun stacker power-up.
Gun stacking is the mechanic that (aside from the sheer insanity of it all) defines Serious Sam Double D. By finding the various gun stacker parts, Sam can stack up to six weapons into a single contraption. This mass of guns (and chainsaws!) can be wielded and fired as a single gun. At first glance, it may seem like a trivial addition, but in reality, it adds a noticeable level of customization to the game.
All of the weapons in Serious Sam Double D have noticeably different attributes, so by mixing and matching what you've got, it is possible to either amplify damage from a single weapon by a massive amount (six shotguns for the win) or arm yourself with a variety of gun types so that you end up with a robust, general purpose weapon. Being aware of what ammo you're shooting is important, if only because of the kamikaze enemies.
Yes, the headless (but still screaming) kamikaze bombers return, along with a new variant, the larger, stronger, femikaze. Dressed in a bikini bottom, stripper heels and sporting double D bombs in just the right place, the femikaze is still headless, but she's twice as dangerous. Getting up close and personal is not advised, lest poor Sam end up a pile of bloody gibs.
Other monsters get even wackier with everything from Serious Sam mainstay, the Gnaars, to flying monkeys with explosive banana bombs, oversized beetles, dinosaurs, killer maggots and biomechanical monsters (including a flirting, hot-pink version that blows out killer kisses and carries a matching purse) making an appearance. Trying to make sense of it all isn't recommended; rather, the enemy creatures are just there to provide a challenge and look cool while they're doing it.
One nifty thing about the enemies is the fact that they're solid, even when dead. Shoot a Gnaar, and you can climb on its body. Shoot a bunch, and you can use the pile of corpses as a makeshift platform. In fact, the game encourages this in some areas where endless supplies of enemy creatures spawn out. It's comedically macabre, yet works well as a gameplay mechanic.
Layered on top of all the shooting and blasting is an equally over-the-top cache of secrets. Serious Sam Double D rewards players who are willing to poke around and look for things in the most unlikely of places. Some secrets are simple power-ups, while others are nods to popular culture, such as the "dream van" from "Inception." Thankfully, all of the secrets are optional. While finding them will most definitely give you a leg up, even without the secrets, Serious Sam Double D is more than liberal with the power-up items. In fact, they seem to spawn just as often as the enemies.
A decent player can likely complete the Serious Sam Double D campaign in an evening; however, doing so is really only half the experience. Those who hunt secrets will unlock challenge rooms, which are even crazier than the main game. If a replay of the campaign is your thing, it's possible to slow down the mayhem by decreasing the game speed to 50%, or jacking it up to 200% for an evening of Red Bull-fueled digital chaos. You'll need the caffeine high just to keep track of everything going on at that speed.
Serious Sam Double D isn't for everyone, but those looking to blow off a little steam at a bargain price ($8 USD) won't be disappointed. Go ahead. Check your brain at the door, kick back, relax and enjoy a little carnage. It's worth it. Seriously.
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