Take your thinking cap off and throw it out the window. This is first-person shooting at its mindless finest.

You might be confused about the title, Serious Sam II, since the last game in the series was entitled, Sam's Second Encounter. Obviously the developers agree that that wasn't a true sequel. A lot of crap has passed under the bridge since then and Sam's back, bigger, better and badder than ever. This is the game to put your money on if you're looking for tons of shooting fun. It looks great and is loaded with lots of unusual characters and situations. The gameplay may be unsophisticated but there's plenty of imagination at work to keep you from thinking about your rotten life for a few hours.

Sam is still fighting his nemesis, Mental, while trying to save the universe. Mental has managed to put forth countless hordes to stall or cease Sam's progress. There are tons of enemies around every corner. They run the gamut from mechanical spiders to the walking dead. They are all bright, colorful and well rendered. Each has their own attacks and while they aren't all that intelligent, they have sheer numbers on their side. Your button mashing fingers are going to get a workout.

The action in this game is relentless. You'll be giving those monsters an old-school, ass whooping with weapons such as the double barrel shotgun, chaingun, rocket gun and dual pistolas. There is ammo all over the place but you do run the risk of running out before you get to the next supply so try to make most shots count.

Besides keeping yourself alive you are on the lookout for pieces of an enchanted medallion. There isn't a lot of exploring since the game is fairly linear so you'll eventually walk right into them, although you'll have to fight the bosses to collect them. To break the gameplay up you will encounter some platforming and puzzles but they are the exception and not the rule.

Netric sa is back. It's like the female version of HAL from 2001 A Space Odyssey, that gives you hints on your missions. Unlike HAL, Nessie has a more charming and sarcastic personality.

Up to four players can take part in an online co-op mode that is nothing short of great. A few more modes such as a head-to-head and Team Deathmatch would have really rounded out the features but I can't complain about the co-op although the action does get a little too intense at time with so many enemies onscreen at one time. It's hard to see your teammates.

Environments are imaginative and well rendered with plenty of detail, color and spatial depth. The sound effects are beefy with dripping lows and greasy mids. The Xbox has no trouble keeping up with the pace so your fantasy will not be disturbed by lag, slowdown, clipping or freezing.

Serious Sam II is a handful. It may be more action than you bargained for. If you're not interested in the online mode then rent it first but be warned you may not finish it in one weekend.


System: X, PC
Dev: Cro Team
Pub: 2K Games
Release: Oct 2005
Players: 1 - 4 online
Review by Cole