For a $20 Online Shooter, You Can't Complain Too Much
Think PSone plus a few notches. Yeah, the graphics are pretty bad. The environments are grainy and not detailed while the character/monster models are made out of what appears to be a dozen polygons. The only upside is that the hackjob graphics make for some pretty interesting characters like headless kamikaze guys carrying bombs. Yeah, the game isn't pretty, but the fast-paced wackiness almost makes up for it...almost.
No real strategy is involved here. Just run in, guns blazin', and try to dodge any incoming fire while you run backwards and strafe around the rooms. The controls are responsive enough and putting the Jump button on L3 frees up the face buttons for more important features like...answering e-mail.
You'll recognize the sound of the screaming headless bombers immediately, but while stereo is nice, it would've been great to have those screaming bastards in surround sound. The sad thing is that the rest of the sound effects tend to sound like someone is holding a pillow over your speakers. The soundtrack screams butt-rock, but it fits the game I guess. The music tends to ramp up to let you know that the shit is about to hit the fan, which is nice. The one-liners are cheesey in the same way that all one-liners are cheesey, so that's okay.
Serious Sam fans will be happy to know that co-op story mode has survived the transition to the PS2. The story mode isn't very long, but you have 17 different characters to play as if you choose to do so. Each level in story mode ranks your performance and awards a medal to you at the end. Obviously racking up as many Gold Medals as possible will unlock many hidden things within the game. The immensely surprising thing about The Next Encounter is that it supports PS2 Online. Yeah, a $20 online shooter. It doesn't support the co-op story online, but you can partake in some ridiculous deathmatches. Like I said above though, you pay for what you get with this Serious Sam title. That's not necessarily a bad thing.
Okay, from an overall standpoint, the game is not good. But the point is that you can squeeze fun out of a $20 game that offers more than some $50 games do. Lots of zany characters, a decent variety of levels in the story mode (ignore the plot or lack-there-of), and online play where no one in their right mind would expect there to be. The new scoring system racks up combos as you kill consecutive enemies. Kill enough and you'll hit Killing Spree mode that allows you to fire and move faster than any monster. As far as FPS games, this is not even the best Serious Sam game on the market, but if you're low on cash and want to blow shit up for a while, then Serious Sam may be for you. Just don't go in with any high expectations, because the lackluster graphics may kill it for you if you're superficial.
*** This review was written for Flamevault.com shortly after the release of the game. ***