Serious Sam: Double D Review

By Adam Ma on September 5, 2011

It can, at times, be a stretch to compare the videogame industry to the film industry because quite frankly outside of both being venues of entertainment for the masses, there are very few commonalities shared between them. Movies are oftentimes forced to deliver their message in a short span of time while simultaneously attempting to get the audience to care about and emotionally attach themselves to characters; games have the luxury of setting a pace that players adapt to, and then telling a story at their leisure. Then of course there is the B movie. The B movie is a type of film that embraces having a low budget, shallow characters, less-than-advanced special effects, and yet still manages to deliver an amazingly memorable and entertaining experience. Coincidentally a B movie is the perfect way to describe the sort of game Serious Sam Double D is.

For the sake of getting right to the point lets just draw out everything that will obviously turn most gamers away from a game like Double D in a single paragraph. There's no real plot, the graphics aren't mind blowing, the voice acting is dry and features immature humour meant to be chuckle worthy but generally just makes the player wish they hadn't said anything at all. To top it off, the gameplay isn't very deep. Most gamers used to a greater amount of depth from today's games will find that Serious Sam disappoints in that respect, but for those looking to have a little bit of mindless fun, Double D delivers in ways one might not think even imaginable.

From the very beginning Double D makes it clear that this is a game about killing, and the controls are kept simple to keep the killing at a maximum. Movement is done with A and D while jumping and moving down through objects is handled with D. Right mouse button handles all the firing while weapons are attached to the obvious numbers. A quick-save button is also offered to players, which makes appreciating the game even easier. The ultimate goal is simple: move from one end of the level to the other while killing everything in your path until you eventually reach the end. Players then move onto the next level and rinse-and-repeat with a limited amount of puzzle solving between point A and point B. Where things take a turn for fun is all in the gameplay and level design, both of which are top notch.

Hidden challenges, items, power-ups and weapons are strewn across every level, ranging from fake walls to off-screen ledges that can only be reached through either exploration or intuition. Naturally each location can also be riddled with traps, and since developer Mommy's Best Games has no shame in throwing a near endless wave of opponents at the player, staying on guard is a constant requisite throughout the game. This also means that exploration is not only mandatory (because you would hate to miss out on the potential for really cool items) but also very fun; it's impossible to tell what you'll find around a corner "“ or worse, what may be guarding it. Where most titles use the opposing force as something to just fight and move on in life, Double D uses them as a source of hilarity, puzzle solving and general attention-grabbing. A puzzle may have a player fighting off enemies while attempting to push switches located throughout a room, while another will have players trying to navigate a wave of charging monsters into spiked pits to form a corpse bridge in order to reach a hidden item. This is the kind of fast-paced fun that encompasses most of the game, which happens to be fuelled in part by a combination of hilarious weapon customization and ridiculously memorable enemies.

Guns are found all over each level and like most games each weapon's efficiency varies according to enemy types. Normally this means that a developer would force a player to switch between weapons as some form of strategy, but Sam has far too many for that sort of thing. Instead of switching weapons players are given access to a device known as a connector, which allows players to stack more than one weapon on top of each other. Adding more stackers means combining more weapons, so keybindings no longer become simply a matter of which weapon is selected but now which weapon combo is chosen. To top it all off players will also get more than one copy of the same weapon, leaving such combinations as a quadruple shotgun or shotgun-chainsaw-rocket launcher-machine-pistol. Players can combine a total of six weapons together in any way they choose, so long as they've found the weapons to make the combo possible. The result is an amazingly entertaining dynamic to both combat and exploration, as laying down the pain on wave after wave of creature is made possible by spraying the level in a wide variety of bullet fire and finding more weaponry adds to the options that players will have to make deadly combinations with.

The enemies of Serious Sam Double D deserve special mention for being both hilarious and horrifying all at once. The vuvuzela playing kamikaze pancakes with razor teeth get special mention, but every single enemy in game is noteworthy in their own right. Headless men that throw bombs, giant naked women that charge at the player in an attempt to explore, gorillas with jet-packs and other various cyborg attachments, the list goes on and on and all of those examples are taken from the first few stages. Fighting one wave of opponents can be fun in its own right, but when four or five different kinds of monsters are thrown together in a massive arena style setting while at the same time spawning from every single direction, that's when Double D actually starts to become fun. Players aren't often kept waiting for scenarios like these either, most of the time it just takes a quick puzzle or two to unlock a wave of baddies in the next room; and sometimes the puzzle itself involves fighting a massive horde of foes. The strangeness of it all is immensely endearing, and best of all it's absolutely hilarious to watch.

In fact, one of the most confusing aspects of Double D is that when it tries to be funny, it isn't, but whenever the game takes the time to relax and just be itself the hilarity runs rampant. When players are forced to endure any kind of cutscene it works against the flow of things, making you want to desperately skip said scenes and get back to the real fun. If it were possible to release some sort of Directors Cut where all of the cutscenes were actually removed, and any conversation between characters replaced with some kind of Mad Libs mini-game the result would be a vast improvement over what's currently offered. Thankfully players will be spending more time killing things than listening to Sam (or anyone else) talk, but even still the poor attempts at humour disrupt the flow of gameplay so badly it's hard to forgive.

Final Thoughts

So in the end Serious Sam Double D isn't a game for someone looking to engage in a serious storytelling experience, or for those who like to venture out into new and revolutionary styles of gameplay. But that all being said Double D is still an extremely fun game, particularly for those who just want to turn their brains off and relax in the general strangeness that is Sam's world. What the game lacks in depth and longevity it makes up for in some fairly ridiculous action sequences and very creative puzzles. Unlock-able challenges in game extend the experience a little longer and finding each new challenge is fun, but once all the hidden features have been uncovered there's very little reason to have a second playthrough. Still, for what its worth, the DD manages to deliver a memorable experience that makes you wish there was more.

Good old hilarious fun.
Weapon stacker offers plenty of customization options.
There's a colourful variety to enemies.
Tries too hard to be funny at times.
Little incentive to replay the game.
Cutscenes are painful to watch.
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