Author: Lydia Sung
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Monday, February 18th, 2013
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/serious_sam_doubled_xxl/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.
Serious Sam Double D XXL is a simple game. The name might sound familiar on account of there being a Serious Sam Double D already for PC, released back in 2011, and the Xbox LIVE version offers much of the same crazy side-scrolling run-and-gun action. Just, you know, more of it. More guns, more levels, more crazy.
Mommy’s Best Games isn’t afraid of extremes, as proven by their work on the Serious Sam Indie Series. The studio understands both the brand and the man, and like Sam, Double D XXL is all about the simple pleasures. Although the game occasionally requires moments of precision and critical thinking, the binding principle here is still guns. You could definitely argue that Double D XXL doesn’t have a whole lot going for it, and I wouldn’t disagree. Yet the game is a lot of fun.
Guns and overblown explosions are Sam’s greatest weapons against the alien threat looming over our planet, because few things in existence can’t be taken care of with superior firepower. To combat the invaders, Sam is thrown back in time to clean-up the mess and locate sources of energy. The plot really isn’t worth mentioning, because it’s little more than an excuse for Sam to be fighting made-up dinosaurs with laser cannons strapped to their backs – among other things.
Double D XXL’s core mechanic is “Gunstacking,” which does exactly what its name implies. Every weapon you find in the game, be it a gun or chainsaw, can be stacked on top of each other using connectors, another item that you’ll find strewn about. Stacks are limited to six weapons, but you can store up to eight different weapons or stacks for quick access. Obviously, the game never forces you to stack anything, and if you’re the sort who believes less is more, XXL will accommodate.
Not every weapon combination is created equal, either. Some are clearly more efficient than others, and figuring out which combos work best tends to require some trial and error. Against common mobs, just about any stack combination will work, but once you start encountering the bosses about midway through Act II, some actual thinking is required. That previously mentioned chainsaw, for instance, works rather nicely when topping off an entire gun-stack, where it can keep enemies at bay should bullets fail to do the trick. Trust me when I say you don’t want these alien monstrosities within melee range.
Just to kick things up a notch, weapons can be modified to shoot different kinds of ammunition. Why settle for a grenade launcher than only fires grenades when you can unload swarms of flesh(or metal)-eating beetles instead? How about shotgun shells that slow enemies? Once you start factoring in all these variables, the Gunstacking mechanic really becomes more complex. The game even throws out occasional suggestions, like positioning a certain type of weapon higher up so that you’re not hitting the ground and wasting ammo.
Enemies in Double D XXL spawn in droves, often infinitely unless you’re talking boss fights. That’s entirely intentional too, and tends to work fairly well for a game like this. The idea is to overwhelm the player, and as overpowered as your Gunstacks might seem, the alien forces will have their moments of triumph. Trial and error, remember? Beyond rearranging your weapons and hoping to find a better combo for whatever situation, XXL doesn’t call for much strategy. More often than not, you’ll die because you weren’t expecting 50 kamikaze units waiting to jump you or a rain of missiles from all directions. The deployable jump pad can come in handy by letting Sam hop a little higher, but at the end of the day, it’s just a test of how fast you can maneuver the guy while simultaneously spamming the trigger button. Not exactly complex stuff.
In terms of appearance, the baddies are definitely a sight to behold. You’ve got repurposed humans with bombs for hands and no heads (yet still scream), kittens growing out of acid vats and flying on jetpacks, pancakes with feet and armed with vuvuzelas, and all other sorts of crazy. That’s SCIENCE, people! Heck, if all of this isn’t ridiculous enough for you, XXL’s gore setting is the cherry on top. Going on a tool tip provided by the game, I changed the blood to donuts, so that every time something in the game bled (which is often), I’d see a burst of frosty fried confections rather than blood and flesh bits.
Admittedly, the sheer number in which you’ll encounter these mutants can get pretty damn annoying, because as I mentioned before, there’s really nothing you can do except jump and shoot. With the exception of a few levels, the environments are hardly useful in any way, and don’t factor in a great deal when it comes to the combat. It’s a real shame too, to see this missed opportunity, because there are some elements that would’ve worked nicely were they pushed a little further. Enemy corpses are sometimes used to access higher platforms, and some stages do house secret passages that lead to ammo caches, armor buffs, and collectibles. Considering how outrageous the enemies are, the environments just feel so mundane by comparison.
Serious Sam Double D XXL is, without a doubt, a wildly entertaining game. Few titles are so self-aware and throw caution to the wind quite like this, making XXL easy to fall into and enjoy. But XXL also fails to offer any sort of depth that might’ve made it more memorable experience. If that’s perfectly okay with you, then by all means, give into the madness. Serious Sam fans should be especially pleased with what Mommy’s Best Games has brought us, though anyone with an appreciation for the ridiculously excessive will have a good time.
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