Tag Archives: serious sam

Serious Sam Fusion 2017 beta: Fish’n’Fries

If you own Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter, you can now download the Serious Sam Fusion 2017 beta on Steam. What is it? Well, apparently some kind of central hub for all things Serious Sam, allowing access to the first up to the third game, presumably including the DLC chapters, and even SS4 whenever it comes out (so far it only supports TFE HD). It features slightly revamped graphics, easier access to all games from one place (guess the Steam client wasn’t easy enough), and probably new leaderboards. That last bit is my current problem.

Perhaps you don’t know, but Serious Sam HD works a bit differently from other games. Your leaderboard score is simply the sum of your scores from every level… and I mean all levels, including extra ones: so if you start TSE HD, and have the Fusion DLC installed, you can get a higher score by playing through the TFE episodes and two demo levels as well, not to mention the Legend of the Beast DLC chapter. It’s kind of pay to win, at least when it comes to leaderboards. But if Fusion 2017 is going to have unified leaderboards for all games, that means in order to keep my spot, I’ll have to replay every game, one by one, and get a high score in all of them!

Oh well, back again with Serious +  No Health + No Armor + No Powerups… 66x multiplier, here I come.

SS HD Fusion 2017: level 1
I’d play on Mental for 76x, but it has less enemies. I noticed you actually tend to get lower scores.

The graphics look a bit more natural, though also a bit less rich… I wonder if it was a side effect of having to make the game work smoothly in VR mode. I kinda like the new look. Currently it has a few bugs and also a few fixes. A big one is the werebulls behavior, which is a bit too aggressive. Seriously, right now whenever I meet one of them, I just bombard them from a distance, because dodging them has become near impossible. One fix, which was a long time coming but still disappointing, is the revolvers reload glitch: now, if you switch to a different weapons, the revolvers won’t be automatically reloaded. I’ll have to plan for that change during big fights.

But most importantly, they actually fixed the fishes’ behavior! In the original game and even in the HD remake, fishes were everyone’s nightmare because their physics were completely broken. They were supposed to be able to electrocute you from a short range, but in actuality, you could be hit from the other side of the arena, and their attacks hurt like hell. As if that weren’t bad enough, they could even chase you out of the water! An absolute nightmare. In Fusion 2017, they finally act like they should: much shorter range, and not nearly as aggressive. I can finally explore the waters in peace.

Now, let’s hope they fix the werebulls soon too, because in their current state they could make later levels near unplayable. And as Sam would say, that’s a load of bull.

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Beyond Good and Bad

Things aren’t always good. 2016, for example, wasn’t good by any stretch of the imagination. Hence, you can’t always talk about good things.I’ll agree that it helps people feel better: “oh, this thing that happened last year was great, totally worth it”. But sometimes you need to take a look at some things that didn’t go as planned. Which leads me to…

Most “Ok Well, That Was A Disappointment” Game of 2016:
The Mansion of Hidden Souls (Saturn, 1994)

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Never forget.

After all, what else do you call a bad sequel to a fairly good adventure, if not disappointing? The original Mansion of Hidden Souls was the very last game I played in 2015, and a surprisingly good one. I had heard about the sequel, so I didn’t have much hope it was good – but it ended up even worse than I expected. I can’t describe its crappiness in words (because it’s too much), or it’s plot (because it’s beyond description), so why don’t you give it a try?

But after the rain, the sun comes up. And we can’t just focus on the negative. That’s not good for your health. We need some good in life, and the best kind of nice things come from unexpected places.

Most “Wait, This Isn’t As Bad As I Remembered” Game of 2016
Serious Sam 2 (PC, 2005)

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Wait, what happened to all the sand and pyramids? I distinctly remember something that looked like a sphynx at some point.

No, hear me out. I know you thought I hated Serious Sam 2. To be fair, my dislike of the game was based on the first couple levels – which were so bad (and admittedly, so different from the original series) that they put me off playing entirely. Flash forward several years later, and I decide to give it a better chance. And what do you know? After the crappy beginning, it gets actually good. Sure, it’s still my least favorite in the series, and some sections are still downright annoying. But at least it’s a fun pick-up-and-play title, whoch lets you have fun blasting those damn Kleers with ease, unlike the older games. And some of the cutscenes are genuinely funny. Which reminds me, after the bleakness of SS3, I hope SS4 is a return to form.

There are even things that aren’t quite good or bad. More specifically, they might be the best you could have done within certain limitations. That doesn’t make them necessarily good, but you gotta at least admire the effort, and at least they weren’t as bad as they could have been.

Most “It Should Have Been Crap But It Wasn’t” Game of 2016
Fable: The Journey (Xbox 360, 2012)

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It was a bit like travelling around in Oblivion, if Bethesda suddenly decided to make an on-rail adventure and actually added some charm to its game.

Kinect, in the end, was only good for a few things: music games and on-rail shooters. Fable Journey did have some of the latter, but it sure didn’t have any of the former. And the rest of the story is filled with horse sections. But hey, at least they make you care about the horse. The story might be utterly predictable, but it’s well told. And while you’ll spend half your time fighting the controls, it’s almost worth it in the end. I can’t say it was a game I’d play again, but it was something I always wanted to play for some reason, and it’s already impressive enough that it didn’t disappoint.

As I said before, good and bad is not all there is in the world. In some cases though, you outright don’t care. Perhaps you are bound by a previous decision, an oath if you will. Maybe it’s simply a case of collectionism. It might even be a gift for someone, who died before you could give it to them, hence you are now stuck with it (oh wow, that turned sour pretty fast). Either way, you have to live with it. With some luck, you won’t care.

Most “I Said I Would Buy It So There Was No Choice” Game of 2016
Lego Jurassic World (PC, 2015)

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Now, eventually you do plan to have Lego enviroments in your Lego game series, right?

Me in 2014: okay, I’m not a big fan of Lego games, but if they made one based on Jurassic Park, I’d totally bite
TT Games in 2015: Lego Jurassic World is so coming!
Me in 2015: crap, at least let me wait for a sale…

Ok well. See, it wasn’t bad. Lego games rarely are bad to begin with. But they are pretty much all the same. I’ve played a few, and I didn’t really want to play any more of them. But in the end, I’m glad I did, because I was able to see what kind of progress the series has made since the earlier efforts. To be fair, not even all that much progress… but that’s better than nothing. Let me also go on record and say that, if they make a Lego game based on Predator, I’m buying that too (pretty sure I’m safe this time).

Finally, sometimes… nothing at all matters. Good, bad, promises, expectations… nothing. You play something short just because you need to finish the 52 games in a year challenge.

Most “I Can’t Believe I Played This” Game of 2016
Teddy Floppy-Ear: Mountain Adventure (PC, 2015)

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I regret nothing.

Don’t ask. At least it was fun, okay?

Bearer of the curse, you have too many souls now

Despite being pretty busy at work, I’ve managed to put in quite a few hours into Dark Souls 2 (again). One thing I found out: if you play these Souls games too much, you will eventually get tired of them.

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Getting tired of Serious Sam though? Don’t be daft. At most, I might choose to play a bit more casually (ie. still in Serious difficulty… but with no extra multipliers)

No surprise there, that’s like every other game ever. Still, because Souls requires a lot out of the player, being tired of it makes it much more painful to play compared to something less demanding. I could grow weary of shoters – unlikely – but still play some casually. Meanwhile, if I grow tired of Souls, playing one will feel like an utter chore. That’s why I decided to drop the last DLC boss, go straight for Nashandra (still too easy) and Aldia (still too easy), and shelve the game. While I will probably pick up Dark Souls 3 eventually, it might be a while before I feel like doing that.

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This guy and his talks about light and dark and whatever, weren’t even there the first time I played, back at launch. So what is a king anyway? According to him, you gotta be a totally amazing dude. Vendrick would approve.

That done, I’ve been looking for other things to play. How many here know about Machi? It’s a visual novel by Chunsoft (before they made 999 and Danganronpa and changed their focus), one that apparently is considered an old cult classic. I found a cheap copy, so I’ll try and make my way through it slowly. Reading sound novels on a Saturn emulator is not the easiest thing, especially because I can’t just use Rikaichan.

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With a colorful cast of characters, this story is sure to be interesting. Ignore the low budget look. I doubt Chunsoft had a lot of money back then (not sure if they do even now).

A gamer detective, whose name is Amemiya Keima. Keema – Geema. Amazing. Even he muses on it. It can only get crazier.

15 Great Games: Serious Sam – The First Encounter (2001)

Serious Sam: The First Encounter

It’s the new century! The future has arrived. The Xbox and Gamecube try to wow people, which in hindsight will be a fruitless effort. The PC, meanwhile, is enjoying its last few years before the dark ages. Arguably, some of the greatest stuff came from around this period. One such game was Serious Sam: The First Encounter.

First person shooters were in a time of transition. Half-Life, which made my list too, had effectively changed the landscape. After its success, any game attempting to be a straight shooter with no plot was going to be met with some resistance. Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament dodged that issue by simply focusing on the multiplayer, but everyone else was in a bind. There was no choice but to adapt, right? Maybe not. Croteam, a then-unknown Croatian developer, chooses the opposite direction. And in crossing the line, they create awesomeness.

So you thought Doom 2 had a lot of enemies. Turns out Doom 2 didn't have nearly enough enemies.
So you thought Doom 2 had a lot of enemies. Turns out Doom 2 didn’t have nearly enough enemies.

Serious Sam, which really should be well known at this point, is what happens if you take Doom, strip the boring parts and feed steroids to the good parts. Which means, no more looking around for keys in labyrinthine maps – don’t get me wrong, looking for stuff in labyrinthine maps can be pretty good, just look at System Shock, but it’s not what I’m looking for in a straight shooter. And to compensate for the lack of keys, you insert a lot more monsters. It works. Much better than one could have expected.

Part of that is due to the concept of “arenas”: you aren’t just killing all these monsters in corridors, often you are thrown into a large closed area and swarmed with enemies. Survival at these times requires an adrenaline rush that few other games can give you. Sam’s trademark humor might have helped a little bit too, but it wasn’t especially present in this game yet. In fact, this was a semi-straight shooter, with few jokes and merely some peculiar monsters and stage design. It certainly wasn’t as crazy as MDK, or its own sequels.

Many shooters won't give you a rocket launcher until you are relatively late into the game. This game gives you one well before one third of the way in. You'll need it too.
Many shooters won’t give you a rocket launcher until you are relatively late into the game. This game gives you one well before one third of the way in. You’ll need it too.

Despite that, it’s my favorite in the series, and I mean a series almost entirely made up of awesome games (we don’t talk about Serious Sam 2 around these parts), so that’s saying something. I should also mention the great pumping-up soundtrack and the quite attractive visuals, but in the grand scheme they don’t feel all that relevant – although props should be given to Croteam for creating an engine that managed to run well even on fairly old PCs despite the number of enemies on screen. The extensive customization options will help you obtain the best quality and framerate too. If you are looking for an entry point into the series, or even just if you are looking for a great time shooting some skeleton horses, Serious Sam: The First Encounter hasn’t been topped yet.

Playing today: now this is one widespread game. After its success, there have been several conversions, upgraded ports, remakes and all that jazz. Let’s proceed in order. First thing first: let’s say you want the original game. In that case, Steam (and GOG) have got you covered. The Classic version will run just fine, although you might have to tinker around the .ini files a bit to activate Vsync properly. Another option is to buy Serious Sam Reloaded, which is an update to the two original games, but I can’t honestly suggest it until they fix a current issue with controls latency. It might not be a big deal to many, but I’ve played this game for years and I can notice the difference imediately.

If you fancy something a bit more modern, Croteam released in 2009 an HD remake called Serious Sam HD. It’s got better graphics, extra shiny, leaderboards, and just a little bit of weird physics. They will screw you up a little in the beginning, but the game is fine. The best idea would be to buy both TSE and TFE at once, which will give you access to a “Fusion” DLC, meaning you can play all of the first game’s levels directly from the second game. There are advantages to this, such as getting a better score on the cumulative leaderboards, but maybe I’m the only one who cares about this. These games are almost always on sale, so wait a bit and you’ll grab them for peanuts.

If you are a console-only player, well, you still have a couple options. A game called simply Serious Sam was released on the Xbox, which is also backward compatible on the 360 (framerate is a bit iffier though). It’s a compilation of the first two games, which are played back to back. The game compensates for joypad controls with some generous auto-aim, and you are also given a lives system, which works quite well. Modesty aside, as an expert, I was able to finish the Xbox version on the highest difficulty with more than a hundred lives to spare.Your other option is an Xbox 360 port of Serious Sam HD. I never tried it myself, but I heard the framerate is not that good. If possible, stick to the Xbox original. Still, if that’s not an option, don’t let things stop you and get SSHD on the 360.