Serious Sam Map & Mod Reviews

Sam Free World (Part 1.1 - City of the Night )

Author(s) : SamSamSam (AKA SamChen or samyup)
Game : Serious Sam : The Second Encounter
Type : Single Player/Cooperative


After reviewing a map made by a Japanese fan, I have decided that I will review a map-pack by a Taiwanese fan next. This review will be divided into 4 parts. The first 3 parts will look at each of the levels presented in the original map-pack release, and the 4th and final part will take a look at the attempt at a sequel that never got finished. In this map-pack, there are 5 level files included. 3 of them are the level files themselves, the other 2 contains the intro cutscene level and the co-op stage select level.


All of the story that you will ever get for this map-pack is contained in the intro level that plays out when you start the level from the custom level menu. To summarize, Sam needs to find a powerful ally in order to defeat Mental, and to do that he must go into the illusory world named Sam Free World to find this ally. On the way, Mental’s forces will try to stop Sam.


Exposition! Now in extremely broken English!

Once the intro plays out, you are dropped into the first level of the map-pack, the City of the Night. The level starts off slow, as expected for any large mapping projects. However, with a little bit of searching, players would be able to find a hidden Rocket Launcher, and a not-so-hidden Double-Barreled Shotgun. One of the first things that you will notice about the gameplay of this level is that the author likes to play a lot with enemy parenting. In this case, players will soon come face to face with a cart made out of wooden logs and pulled by a Werebull, these carts often carry enemies like Zorg Commanders, Demons, Kleers, Cannons and Arachnoids. These configurations make the enemies these Werebulls carry a lot more dangerous, as dodging the Bull-carts become that much more awkward and difficult. There are plenty of other gimmicks to this level beyond the enemy combinations, and you will learn of them once you reach the underground portion at the second half of the level, and pick up a scroll that tells you about them. One of the more notable gimmicks involve using the Flamethrower to light up the surrounding areas on fire in order to navigate around a darkened room full of spikes. The other gimmicks makes players navigate a tightrope room with Cannon enemies patrolling the area, fight a very vertically-oriented garden with enemies bearing down on you all the way to the top, before putting them through 2 very corridor-like rooms with very dangerous enemy combinations that include Gnaars carrying Cannon enemies on their backs and a rapid-fire Enemy cannon that tracks your movement.


Lots of fights

Now where do I begin with all these elements? They throw a lot of enemies at you very quickly after the first few rooms, and you are put in a very risky position where you could be killed outright several times throughout the level. This level has more Cannon enemies than the entire third episode of The Second Encounter combined, and even the most seasoned Serious Sam players will find themselves dying a couple of times. Thankfully, the author put in plenty of auto-save points, so you never will have to retread your steps for long after reloading your saves. Plus, the author is very generous with giving you 100 Health Hearts in this level. On one hand, the extra challenge and volume of enemies, combined with the aforementioned gimmicks do give you plenty to be entertained by. However, for many casual or new players, it could be seen as too much being thrown at them to deal with. While Ten-Four Map’s review is a valid viewpoint for this level, I would personally disagree and say that even low-skilled players could get through this level, at least, with enough perseverance and enjoy the experience. There is one design flaw in this level that I must mention. The vertical indoor garden has a set of stairs that lead to the top, and to exit the room, you must find and flip a switch. However, in order to get to the switch, you must drop down to the pool below, and in doing so, you will be forced afterwards to drop down even further and start over climbing from the very bottom of the stairs. This is a really bad element of level design that forces players to waste time for no reason and it really should have been excised from the level during playtesting. I actually used the ‘please fly’ cheat to quickly get back to the stairs leading to the exit. This would have been avoided if the author added a set of stairs next to the pool with the switch that allows players to return easily to the main stairs leading to the exit. There is also a bug in the map design where walking through certain points in the map would trigger HUD messages, and they could be activated an infinite number of times.



Gimmicks and traps.

As alluded earlier in this review, there are plenty of secrets to find, a couple of them in odd places, and a couple of them reached via very unusual methods that encourages thinking outside of the box, literally. It is then unfortunate that the implementation of many of those secrets in the outdoor sections of the level seemed so messy. There is a part of the level right before you enter the underground sections that allows you to exit the level geometry and explore the level geometry outside the play area. There seems to be an extra area that was planned, but never got completed. In that area, there is a bouncer that allows you to leap on top of the outer walls of the level and access many of the secrets previously seen, but unreachable. Ironically, there is not particularly much to explore in this level, since most of the rooms are based on boxes or boxed-in areas, and most of the secrets are pretty obvious to find. Given the simple nature of the overall level geometry, some praise should be given for the amount of secrets places in this level. There was even one secret that I found completely by accident that I thought was pretty clever.


Just a small sampling of the secrets.

The visuals, on the other hand, are not very good. There are a lot of geometric detail put into the level, sure, but they do not seem to add to the overall aesthetics of the level other than detail being put in for its own sake. Not to mention the fact that for the entire outdoor sections of this map, only a couple of textures are used, and they are mostly badly aligned at the seams. There are also a lot of visibility sectors that were poorly implemented. Moreover, the door are very weirdly implemented, as they rotate around like a revolving door instead of swivelling on the hinges or sliding off to the sides. This gives the effect of previous sections of the level seeming to disappear behind the door’s thresholds. The indoor areas look a lot better, especially the indoor vertical garden, but I do not think that they do enough to save the level’s visuals from dipping below average, especially with how many instances of texture misalignments I found.



Visually, the outdoor sections of this level aren’t very interesting. Moreover, there are plenty of texture misalignments like these.

Another thing I found really off-putting is the author’s face being plastered all over the pillars on the outdoor sections of the map. It is really weird, and it does not add anything to the level’s visuals. In fact, just like with the dragon decals in Slaughter House, I find them to be very immersion-breaking. This is why in terms of visuals and experience, I found that the underground sections greatly outshone the outdoor sections.


His face is everywhere.

On the plus side, the music used in this level was chosen well. They are taken from the BGM of The Pit from the core campaign, and it fits surprisingly well. It really adds to the feeling of isolation and that danger is very close. Out of all the music from the core campaign to appropriate for this level, I would have to say that the music that was picked for this level was the best choice. It is unfortunate though, that this will be the only level in this map pack for which I could say this.

Surprisingly enough, there are a few Netricsa messages that pop up in this level. The first of which introduces you to the idea of the Bull-carts. Most of them are written in very bad and broken English, and takes a bit to understand. Considering that the author’s first language is Chinese, some leeway will be given. I should also note that in one of the custom Netricsa messages provided for this level, a caption is written in Chinese.


These fights seem intimidating at first, but…

So, overall, what could I say about this level? It certainly is controversial in its level design and gameplay direction. Many people would either say that it is a great level with challenging gameplay, or that it throws so much at them that it is more aggravating then fun to play through. I fall firmly in the former camp myself, though there will be plenty who disagree. Yes, the level can look downright ugly at times, but I rarely pay attention to the scenery as I am more distracted by the amount of Bull-carts and Cannon enemies thrown at me, and the creative gimmicks that I have not seen in any other Serious Sam level save for maybe Rusutaku Assault. This is by no means an easy level, and I think that it takes a certain amount of effort to enjoy and appreciate what the author was going for with this level. Once that hurdle is passed, though, one would find something truely remarkable.

Level Score : 72.2% (84/118)


This week, we have seen a good start with Samuel Free World, with a strong and action-heavy first level that does not shy away from clever puzzles and gameplay gimmicks. Next week, we will take a look at Mirage, the second level in the Samuel Free World saga. Will it hold up to the bar set by the first level? Stay tuned for next week!


Download : [Link]

gamershaunt:

Serious Sam as a samurai 

gamershaunt:

Serious Sam as a samurai 

tripleheinz:

Serious Sam: The Random Encounter.
Get it right here.

tripleheinz:

Serious Sam: The Random Encounter.

Get it right here.

spacemarinescum:

I realize that saying the Kamikaze is your favorite Serious Sam enemy is like saying Citizen Kane is your favorite movie, but I cannot think of anything else that can make me so anxious and not angry.

spacemarinescum:

I realize that saying the Kamikaze is your favorite Serious Sam enemy is like saying Citizen Kane is your favorite movie, but I cannot think of anything else that can make me so anxious and not angry.

The Lost Soul

Author(s) : Marko Dzoni
Game : Serious Sam 3: BFE
Type : Campaign


When it comes to Serious Sam 3 modding and mapping, we must distance ourselves from the ideas of the old Classic Serious Sam 1. If we look at it, the main game itself always sets a certain kind of model to how its levels should be for it, whether that is good or bad. Sometimes people try to keep to that model, sometimes, they go against it.

So when it comes to Serious Sam 3, it is definitely a whole lot more advanced than its predecessors. Its graphical fidelity is top notch, its moddability is beyond the complexities of SS1, where one had to know programming to make a new enemy. Its gameplay evolved as well, and while it’s not the best when it comes to SS3 (mostly due to the battle design and item layout of the vanilla levels), it is yet another model. The game now also has cutscenes, voiceovers and, in a way, a better story. The game also has a specific setting: Modern, post-apocalyptic Egypt, with aspects and tones of military, something that was missing from SS1.

So we have better graphics, better story, cutscenes, voiceacting and many other aspects to stand model for aspiring mappers, show “this is the bar you must reach”. Getting to this bar, with a complex editor of a more complex game, without an easy documentation to the said editor, which tools are still being experimented on by the experienced mappers; getting to this bar is indeed very difficult. One should use its own sense to determine, if their product is up to par with the original game. This knowledge of production values is now one of the more important things when it comes to building your own campaign.

And yes, I said “campaign” as with SS3, unlike SS1, the goal of most mappers became not to build a single map, but a multi-map campaign. Due to this, custom SP maps for SS3 are quite rare.

Summarizing the current present of Serious Sam mapping, I decided to look on such a campaign, that somehow fits to all those points raised above.


So a little about the campaign: It is supposed to recreate the hometown of the creator, called Kumanovo. I personally know nothing about the place, so I have no reference to how accurately it was rebuilt, so I’ll just grade the looks on its own merits. The character was also supposed to be not Sam, but some other person named Jason “Caspar” Wytee, but that’s not a huge change.


Level 1 - Apocalypse in Kumanovo

The first level starts with the usual intro, which is used all over the place since SS3 mapping exists: the player getting up from the floor. The first part of the level is a slow walk, setting the mood, similarly how SS3 started. The music playing during this section is quite fitting and dramatic, though it is certainly not from the vanilla game. One other specialty is that there’s some voice acting: It is amateurish, yes, but it is certainly an added flavor. The problem with this however is the lack of subtitles. This is something of a problem that will be present all over the campaign. Now, it seems that there are only just a handful of people around, who knows how to make the proper subtitles in SS3, so I’d forgive this overlook, however there were also many other ways people used to create makeshift subtitles, so there was no way this should have been gone without them. As this problem is present all around the campaign, this could lead to cutscenes where it is very difficult to understand what the characters are talking about. Yes, there are also cutscenes, but we will talk about that later.

During this intro sequence, we can also notice that the creator haven’t paid much attention to modeling the building properly either. Overusing official resources is something that is popular with the current generation of SS mappers, and I’m guilty of that as well. However, this area have so many z-fighting models, that it’s more like a Z-Fight Club! I know I shouldn’t talk about the Fight Club, but this is definitely something that would have been pretty visible to not only the creator, but the testers as well. At least covering them up should have done better. (Those who don’t know, Z-fighting is when two models/meshes overlap and they are “fighting” to appear on the top, resulting in flashing textures). Fortunately, it all goes mostly better once you exit the building.

There is one more thing about this opening area I’d like to go another tangent about before moving on. When the level starts, there is a LUA error displayed in the console. LUA errors are serious, please mappers of today, don’t just leave them there hanging!

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Too bad there are other graphical errors all over the map.

Anyways, moving on, when we reach the outside area, the game suddenly goes back being just how Serious Sam 3 is. Going around a ruined city, fighting some enemies with little to no weaponry, scavenging pickups here and there. This part of the Vanilla game I was always okay with, it encourages exploration and gives this “survivor” feeling to the corridor battles. We also meet a new Beheaded enemy, which has weird color and a strange attack where it shoots two kinds of projectiles at once. I personally do not really find any real use of this enemy type other than a second kind of rocketeer for a variety effect, that seems to be wasteful when it comes to introducing new foes - something, I consider to be one of the best opportunities when it comes to SS3 mapping, something that should be done by most mappers who do campaigns.

Soon, the player arrives in a park, which is a nice wide area. Unfortunately however, it looks quite bland, with only two textures used for terrain painting and no usage of stains texture at all. There are at least some new lamp models, basic they are. Now, the fight in this area is mostly okay, however what I find the best in the area are the events setting the mood. There’s a stray cat running around while there’s also a part when there’s an explosion that makes many birds fly away in the distance. These things set the mood of the level perfectly, bonus points for that one.

Unfortunately, while the park area is mostly okay gameplay-wise, there are two other things that makes things worse, and unfortunately, they are a mainstay in the campaign. One is the “enemy introduction” cutscene, a second long cutscene just showing a new enemy appearing. This is seriously annoying. I get that the creator probably wanted to recreate that scene from Vanilla SS3 when the bull appeared out of the box, but that only happened once, and it showed some special way of intro to the enemy. When it comes to this campaign, there are like three of these mini-cutscenes and they only show the enemy spawning. An annoying and wasteful kind of cutscene, if you ask me. The other mainstay is the sudden drop in FPS, due to no visibility sectors at all. Optimizing is one of the most important parts of SS3, and I know, that Visibility Sectoring is still a dark arts, known by the very few in the mapping community. However, it is still certainly a problem.

The area after that is where the first longer cutscene is triggered (there’s also a very cool chopper scene there, another one that sets the mood nicely). This leads to yet another mainstay problem of the campaign, the design of cutscenes. It is mostly okay when it comes to the characters not moving their lips as lipsynch animation in SS3 is something that right now currently a single person who knows how it is done, in fact, he only just found out about the specific method used about a week ago. However, cutscenes themselves are barely dynamic and such, very boring, focusing on people just standing around and speaking to each other. Not to mention, that due to the lack of subtitles, the conversations are mostly impossible to understand due to the amateur voice acting and accents used.

What follows this cutscene is a quite decent fight, which works well, though sometimes there are a few overspawning and enemies getting stuck. The problem here is the music, which suddenly is that one famous song from Far Cry 3, “Make It Bun Dem”. Now the song is good (which is incredible considering its Skrillex) and it was obviously made with reggie undertones to create this Haitian drugger stereotype music when you go around burning weed and getting high on the smoke. It is a very awesome mission in Far Cry 3, said to be the best and indeed it oozes with style. However, this song is now used here in Serious Sam 3, without the context, without the flames, just because… it’s cool I guess? Unfortunately, this really doesn’t go very well with a fairly normal battles.

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Another problem was finding the damn C4 to blow up the gates… that is already blown up, yet none at the same time? It’s Schrödinger’s Gate, everyone!

The parts following these are mostly okay. From what I’ve played, the battles are mostly balanced and can be fun on the later parts of the level, though I think maybe the “there’s a long corridor before me, enemies come down on them” aspect is maybe a little overused.

When it comes to general looks, mood and atmosphere, the level mostly succeeds portraying an apocalyptic East European city (even if it’s Macedonia). There are many great bits here and there to set the mood, even if one of them was copied over from the Contamination campaign. It certainly looks like that the author have placed much much effort into making this one map… Too bad I can’t say the same about the others.

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The level generally looks okay, with the exception of a few, but very obvious stretched textures and the bugs shown above.

Now that I explained many of the mainstay problems of the campaign, we can move to the other maps, where I’ll mostly focus on the gameplay and layout of the level.

Score: 50/90 - Fair



Level 2 - Back to School

This level takes place in the school of the author. It starts in a dark area, reminiscent of the Museum level of the Vanilla game. First I was actually impressed how the author managed to use the museum assets to make this part of the level seem like an old, overgrown and ruined school. Unfortunately, while there’s a very effective jumpscare at one point, this part of the level is just a corridor, which is really a shame. You can’t enter any of the classrooms and the stairs to the next floor is blocked. It really seems like that the author really only recreated the parts of the school which he was familiar with and only that. Pity, because the concept was good.

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Despite some stretched textures and the leaking in lights, the corridor is mostly well made.

Unfortunately, this scene has like no gameplay whatsoever and after a cutscene that is similarly hard to understand as the others, you are suddenly warped to the courtyard of the school. Now, I know I used the word “mainstay” a lot, but this is really another of it. There are multiple cutscenes in the campaign that just flat-out warps th players around, instead of letting them walk there. It is highly annoying.
This part of the level is basically just a large arena, filled with many enemies and… that’s about it. You fight and then the level just ends suddenly. What.

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Not to mention, this part of the level looks horrible with stretched textures all over the place. Also the FPS drop when looking the other way.

The music is also pretty horrible. When it comes to music in a Sam game, I like to think that there’s a certain style: atmospheric peaceful and fight music that fits the general pace and feel of the level, with some rock/metal music for the large battles; the music is rarely chosen because the author likes it, but because it fits the level the most. However, with this map it seems that the author did chose music that was of his liking and not something that would fit that particular scene.

After such a good beginning, this level ends up with incredible laziness. Not to mention, while the level is supersmall, it still manages to drop the framerates to almost unplayable levels. It is just flat-out horrible. Yet, the potential was there to explore such a scary concept as a dark and abandoned school. Yet that was thrown out the window at the end. Pity.

Score: 8/90 - Abysmal


Level 3 - Construction Site

The third level takes us to a construction site, as the title implies. After yet another incomprehensible cutscene (which was at least funny due to the unmoving car and the engine sounds that sounded like it was made with someone’s mouth), a pretty linear, yet not bad looking level follows after. The mainstay problems are still there, like low FPS, nonfitting music (and if I recall, it was even an SS3 Vanilla music this time around).

The first area opens with an Auto-Turret Puzzle which was sort of different than the original ones, so a plus point there. However, most of the level after that part mostly turns into a pretty linear corridor shooting segments.

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It looks quite good at points, too bad it’s so linear.

There are also new enemies on this level: One of them is this weird fat monster that mainly attack in melee. I know this one is from a Russian survival map (can’t recall the name), but while it looks cool, it is really slow and mostly useless. The other new enemy is a green arachnoid hatchling with spikes on its back that shoots magic missiles. Gameplay-wise its a good alternative to the standard Arachnoid (it is not hitscan at least), however, its LOD models were never changed, so from far it looks like the normal arachnoids.

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Them new guys.

After an underground area with black water, the player reaches the end gauntlet through some pipes hanging so high in the sky that dropping from its ladder causes some medium amounts of fall damage and could kill the player without ways to avoid it. Certainly of a bad design, not to mention that from the ladder, the player can easily see through the illusions of level design.

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I can see my house from here!

The level ends with a very crowded gauntlet type fight, which is made much more difficult than it should by having very few pickups placed to the more strategic locations.

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I think I might have had to switch on God mode for this part.

Overall, while this level was miles better than the atrocity of the previous, it still feels lazy compared to the first level.

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At least we have helicopters that can change form between a Black Hawk and an Apache!

Score: 28/90 - Poor


Level 4 - Mischief and Mayhem

After a fairly good and two incredibly lazy levels I had my doubts that the fourth one will be somewhat of a difference. Unfortunately, my premonitions were right.

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It starts with our cool transforming chopper getting shot down as an apache then turning into a Black Hawk upon crashing, just for good measure.

My first bad vibe came from the looks of the level. While the terrain painting is not too shabby, the lack of any sort of stain texture makes the level look incredibly plain and empty. There’s really not much else to see on the map, as it mostly consist of two areas yet again: a village in the middle of the nowhere reminding us the Silent Riddler level of the Vanilla game, and… a nothing in the middle of nowhere. Yes, unfortunately to us, the level design yet again shows laziness on this final level, when one would expect something more epic.
Going with the plain layout design is a mostly decent battle that ramps up slowly as approaching the door the player must cross. The battle consist of many varieties of enemies, which is really not that bad, and the enemies themselves work together quite well. In battle design at least this level shows something of a similarity with the first level.

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On the other hand, the enemy pathing could be better. That scrapjack was so scared he just started crying in a corner.

Two problems I’ve encountered in this scene were the fact that I had really no idea where I got the Devastator at the beginning of the level, and the fact that I bugged out the key items needed for the gates to open. I think I was supposed to get to the gate first -then- getting the keys, but I did this in the opposite order and thus I couldn’t continue at all without cheating. Overall, not a bad scene at all.

Can’t say the same about the second area though. It starts yet again with a Cutscene that is really bugged (lots of errors in the console) and then the game warps me into Bum **** Egypt, where there’s really only just a truck with a load of pickups and nothing much else.

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Also, the car featured in the cutscene is nowhere near where the player is warped. Not to mention, look at that cool dune. How awesome it would have been if we could have just cross that section on foot, fighting against enemies coming from behind that dune. Such a wasted potential.

What follows here in the middle of nowhere is a really easy and boring final battle to a music too intense for the sake of it. And then there’s a boss, which is a modified Highlander Bride. It shoots almost completely unavoidable fireballs that actually do little damage, however the thing is big and fast, so it can get too close too easily, not to mention its incredible health. Overall, I found this boss to be pretty boring with its singular attack pattern of almost unavoidable projectiles and no other enemies spawning around it, making this final boss just a boring bullet sponge. It is really disappointing, as from the other enemies (especially the arachnoid) it is obvious that the campaign was made after the Edit Data was released for SS3, and that fact can give so many options for a mapper/modder to create a boss that at least have several different kinds of attacks. Disappointing.
And then just as suddenly the boss appeared without fanfare, the credits are rolled after its death. No real conclusion to the story, whatever it was.

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Then the player is warped to an untextured place and stays there forever. What.

When it comes to the level, while it is certainly very vast yet plain looking and the second part is questionable at best, it is still mostly a quite lazy level, just like the previous two.

Score: 38/90 - Below Average


Overall, the campaign itself is mostly a disappointment. It starts fairly well, despite many of the bugs and graphical glitches, the opening level was built with the care of an amateur, but still care which really shows in its gameplay and set pieces that sets the mood brilliantly. However, what follows afterward feels pretty much like an afterthought, made in a few weeks after the first level that took months. They are short, small yet laggy, they sometimes play well, but boring, and the whole thing ends with a negative bang, a mundane final fight that expresses almost everything that is wrong with the campaign. I do weep for it, as the potential was there, but it was ruined with lazy design and a collection of mainstay problems.

On the other hand, if nothing else, the first level certainly showed that with enough effort, the author could do much more better than this. I’ll be certainly curious about his future growth in skills. I would recommend playing through at least the first level, to see some ideas about setting the mood.

Overall Score: 34.4% (124/360) Poor


Download: -Part1- -Part2-

- Reviewed by Solais

keinzantezuken:

Serious Sam 4 Promo Art

Just a note, the top image is actually promo art for Serious Sam HD. It’s the bottom that is a promo art piece for Serious Sam 4.

- Valerie

Recruitment

So, because I cannot possibly talk about all of the Serious Sam content on my own, I have recruited Solais and JuCstin to help with making reviews. Solais has written a few reviews in the past in the Serious Sam Reviews subforum, and has done a very good job of it so far. JuCstin will be mostly doing video reviews.

When I said that I want this exercise of reviewing and talking about Serious Sam fan-content, past or present, to be as open to everybody as possible, I really do mean it. I hope you guys will like their work.

From now on, there will be a note at the bottom that says “Reviewed by xxx” where xxx is the name of the author.

- Valerie

SSHOME

Author(s) : Philer
Game : The Second Encounter
Type : Single Player / Coop


I remember back in the past, when I was still a kid, I downloaded a huge mappack. Playing something akin to a whole episode fascinated me, and I wanted to do something similar. That map pack might have been this one (but maybe it was Portals; can’t remember anymore). I remember this one to be quite interesting, but also buggy. And now, I decided to revisit this.

Now, as this is a 4 levels long map pack, I’m taking a more different approach. Instead of careful overview, I’ll try to recall my experience with the maps as I’ve played them. I’ll also cut up the review to separate parts, as it is a multi-level review.

Level 0 - Intro

Okay, this is not a good way to start a campaign. This intro haven’t got much, just Sam appearing and running around in a Persia themed map. However, the more annoying part is the actual Intro message. Which is not much of an intro, but THE STORY OF THE WHOLE CAMPAIGN! Spoiler much? Seriously, this part of the map pack is just plain unnecessary and is actually worsens the experience. Let’s just skip to the next level.


Level 1 - Home of Serious Sam

This first level starts up in Sam’s bedroom. There’s a Netricsa message going with our “awakening”, with a pretty weird styled image nevertheless. The room itself is also brim with completely new architecture and textures, which is a pretty good start after the awful intro.

Continuing on, we come through some tight corridors and even a smart mirror area, into what I suppose is some sort of storage room or underground or weird puzzle area? This is actually something that most of these levels, but especially those taking place in Sam’s home has it common. These weird gravity and puzzle areas would work REAL well if the setting was some sort of temple of ancient time. But this was supposed to be Sam’s home. Why would anyone build such traps like a crusher corridor with spikes into his own house, near his bedroom? This is what I’d call as a setting-design dissonance, and this mappack is sure full of it.

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Who designed this house anyway?

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This is stupid.

Visually, the level retains its mixed nature. In one hand, it looks very different from the common maps, and uses plenty of nice, though in a way, plain textures. However, on the other, we can see some pretty weird graphical glitches here and there, for example visibility bugs and some stretched out textures. There’s also a design dissonance as well when it comes to stairs: These are supposed to be stairs designed for a normal human being, yet the steps are at least waist high. Unfortunately, not even this duality keeps up when you reach the attic area. Aside from the fact that the areas seem to make no sense (again, setting dissonance), there’s alsmo mainly one texture used for this part of the map.

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Those mountains sure like to hide away when noone is looking. Also featured some not near perfect texturing and huge steps.

Secrets wise, the level is decent. There are some with just plain items here and there, but there are some interesting ones as well that lead to some other parts of the house that is mostly out of the way, like the kitchen, complete with a freezer, or a toilet with a harpy stuck in it… Yeah I don’t get the last one either, and it seems the model have been bugged out since it repeats the same animation over and over. (Actually I noticed something like this in other levels as well, it must be a bug introduced in some later patches.)

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Not even the two most sacred places of a home are no safe from Mental’s evil. Also, that door to the toilet seems to be cursed, be cautious or it will kill you in one hit.

The battles are mixed bags are well. (I have a feeling that I’ll use this “mixed bag” phrase a lot during this review.) It starts well done, with good enemy variety, spawning from reasonable locations. There are even some crazy unique enemies as well, like the bouncing kamikazes, kleer pyramids and mini enemies in a hole.

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I wonder what they were smoking and where can I get some.

However, about half way through about the same time when you find the flamethrower, it seems the quality of battles have slowly dropped for some reason. Many enemies spawn in the tight corridors, almost impossible to dodge and basically the whole level becomes a barbeque feast with your Flamethrower always having enough ammo to fry most of the enemy hordes that get into the way, making the whole level quite repeptitive and boring. There are a few neat ideas here and there (I like that underwater tunnel where you can see through the window that enemies are coming), but it’s nothing much of a thing till the end of the level.

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About here, the map stops being good. With a few surprises like the fish corridor.

When it comes to puzzles, the level doesn’t offer that much of a variety. We have the two switches with the crushers and the gravity room in the beginning, we have key searching, and a clever one at the end where the switch to open the spinning drill-like door (wtf is with that) is cleverly embedded in the texture.

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Not bad.

Overall, the level is a mixed-bag, but in my opinion the best one of the four, made with a few clever ideas, good level design and layour and a few puzzles here and there.

Score: 74/100 - Good

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Oh, this guy appears as well, what is rare in custom maps. Too bad that we don’t fight it.


Level 2 - Over the Earth

Oh boy! Anyone who knows me well knows that I love floating island levels. ANd this one is pretty decent as well! Unfortunately it falls flat on the battle element, but it plays more or less as a puzzle level.

First thing we notice when we start the level (besides the fact that you lost most of your weapons, which is unfortunate) is its quite unique but also familiar look due to the textures and models used. While the level is not the best when it comes to looks (though the game being old doesn’t help either when it comes to me), it certainly looks good and quite unique. Just imagining a few parts in HD made me like the scenery even better.

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Just the potential makes me want to convert the map to SSHD.

Unfortunately, there are also a few problems coming with the looks and the unique design, the most noticeable (which is a standard when it comes to floating islands) is that it is very easy to fall down, due to the unfortunate bumps in the terrain. Due to this, navigation can get pretty annoying at points, especially if you forget to save constantly.

I wrote before that the level is mostly a puzzle level and it shows. The first part of the level basically consist of keyhunt across the islands, due to some weird stuff always blocking the way.

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There’s a huge chair blocking the way!

Continuing on, we get a really well done “turret section”, which I really really like personally, because of the way it is implemented which is brilliant. We also have a bouncer puzzle as well, that is as lethal as it sounds. While I myself love puzzles like this, others might find these to be incredibly annoying.

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Element of surprise! Too bad the cloud is not yellow.

I also mentioned in the beginning that there are not many battles due to it being a puzzle level. This one really shows, not to mention, those few battles the level has are nowhere near good. Enemies coming in a line, harpies pushing you off the level, barely any space to dodge and just not the most perfect pacing overall. In my opinion, the level should have had a clear distinction between puzzle areas and battle areas, the battle areas being more spacious larger islands in general. Unfortunately, that is not the case with this one, with the exception of one single area.

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This one.

One another thing that started to pop up on this level (and will continue on the following levels) is there are less and less Netricsa messages as you proceed through the level, and even if there are a few, their language is getting worse and worse, along with the small messages popping up here and there. Very unfortunate, and it just emphasizes better that the creator is not a native speaker.

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However, that picture. I just love that for some reason.

Overall, the level is very unique, with interesting visuals, some weird gameplay elements, but very lacking battles and fight design. The worst part of the map is the end: There’s a cutscene where it really shouldn’t be any, and this cutscene is completely bugged that makes the level unwinnable. Not to mention, this cutscene was actually broken 10 years ago as well when I first played this level. This is indeed yet another sign of something worse to come, unfortunately.

Score: 51/100 - Fair


Level 3 - Return to the Home of Serious Sam

This level. This level, alright. The one level where the fairly decent mappack does a dive into the worse.
It’s one thing that the level is a rehash of the first level in looks and design, but it somehow does everything worse than what it did on the first level. The worse parts of the first level show up on this one, not to mention, it continues its annoying new trend of cutscenes being completely broken, unless you move very carefully.

The first thing you can notice when you start this level (either using cheats to skip the cutscene at the end of the previous one, or selecting it from the menu) is that there’s no Netricsa message waiting for you to explain what is going on. And this is just the start, because there is only a single message on the whole level, and that is completely useless, pointless and random beyond redemption only just to super conveniently set up the next level, which wouldn’t have any connection to the map pack whatsoever.

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Not to mention the grammar.

Gameplay wise, you get tight corridors with the same gameplay that was the second half of the first level which was disappointing. However, at parts even this level excels, especially when it comes to the large room at the entrance or the bridge above it, where the gameplay is still fast and fun. The only problem that while this large room looks awesome even today, FPS-wise the game really gets a hit, even on my PC; while my PC is really not new, it’s not that old either - considering this, it means that back in the day, this area lagged like hell. Not good at all.

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Corridor shooting like this what this map is mostly about, though fortunately, you get at least a few breaks from it thanks to some weird rooms.

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Then you have the big arena, which looks awesome, plays awesome, but is laggy. I weep for the carpet.

The design dissonance from the first level appears yet again on this map as well, in the form of some sort of mayan dimensional gate, where apparently the key is to the house’s front door, which is beyond ridiculous. Fortunately, the mayan temple part is well designed, with an interesting twist at the end, but the whole area really feels shoehorned and not fitting to the premise of the campaign at all.

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Now that I think about it, it really would be awesome if I could keep my keys in another dimension. My brother wouldn’t take them away by accident, and effectively lock me inside the house.

After that weird trip, you return to the arena for another, yet different kind of battle, which is something I actually liked. Not so what happened afterwards, which was yet ANOTHER bugged cutscene, that also managed to bug out the whole rest of the gameplay of the level!

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Oh ****, NOT THE CARPET!

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Umm, let’s try it again.

Fortunately, after trying the whole thing again for a few times, I did manage to trigger the cutscene normally, and another well done battle have followed, with an interesting spawning style. This is an interesting recurring theme about this map pack, I think. It feels very amateur, yet it has that small shine of brilliance here and there that makes it unique. Unfortunately, that uniqueness can’t help to save this level from below average quality.

Score: 42/100 - Below Average

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And so our hero defeats his enemies and runs into the sunset where he liv- SURPRISE COLLAPSING FLOOR!


Level 4 - Water Temple

Le sigh. Why this level even exists? This map pack was supposed to be about Serious Sam’s home, and yet we have this. I won’t be nice with this one, this level in general is utterly pointless, broken and ugly at times. Interestingly, with all this qualities, it still manages to be quite excellent at times, but this excellence is now too few and far between for this map to do any good.

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Short story shorter: You get a glorified and badly designed sewer level as a finale. AWESOME.

This level seems to just magnify everything that is bad in this map pack. First, the level is mostly a puzzle level, which is not that bad of an idea to begin with, but for the love of all that is Holy, I swear I don’t remember any fights from this level besides one cool area with light effects and the last one, both which aren’t very well designed aesthetic-wise (translation: they look ugly, but at least play well).

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What you get mostly is something akin to a Tomb Raider level. Which is not that bad really, but **** THAT LAST TRAP.

For a pack that started with unique, if a little bland, texture work, this level undoes all that with its blurry, ugly textures covering the walls at the most noticable of places.

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Bleh.

And for a pack, that started with decent Netricsa messages with a few grammatical errors here and there, this map seem to have forgotten that Netricsa messages are existent at all. Not to mention, that the pop-up text is now in German for some reason.

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Gesundheit!

After all this, I’d probably give this map the worst possible grade I could give, yet Philer’s latent brilliance strikes yet again. I already mentioned those two arenas where the gameplay is truly fun and interesting. One of them that plays with colored lights and looks quite pretty; not to mention the interesting “blinding kleers” which give battles an interesting new intensity.

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PWETTY LIGHTS!

And as a cherry on the shitcake, he manages to appease my greatest pet peeve as well when it comes to custom maps. Instead of having a disappointing last battle, or just a Reptiloid at the end for a boss, this map actually uses Mordekai, which is a REALLY welcome sight and many of kudos from me. Not to mention, there’s even a twist on this fight as well! Incredible.

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What a great boss fight for a shitty map.

Unfortunately, the end cutscene bugs out yet again, so there’s no end for this mappack at all. What a shame, because I remember this cutscene working back then, and it actually has some custom speech from Booger himself, which is a great WOW! for a Sam fan.

Score: 34/100 - Poor


Overall

Well what can I say? The map pack, in the end, with all in… is decent. It has its best moments just as it has its worst, but in the end, I’d say it worths at least a playthrough, just to see how to do something unique and how to not do many other (especially cutscenes). It really feels like an early work of Philer, and we know well that he became better after this. So it gets a Beginner’s Achievement from me, for unique design.
I also heard that the map pack is actually a lot of fun in Co-op (most likely due to the lack of cutscenes), so hey give it a try.

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Go home Sam! You are drunk. … Oh wait. Right.

Overall Score: 55/100 - Fair


Download

- Reviewed by Solais

Triphon
Author(s) : KaiserGame : The First EncounterType : Single Player / Coop
Ah, Triphon. This map got a sort-of sentimental value to me. I was like only 10 or 11, when I found this map on this very site. I played it and I really liked it. I liked that the story was set between Metropolis and Alley of Sphinxes, so I wondered if I could maybe add this level to the main campaign, as secret. This idea slept since then, and now I have the Extended project. Some things never change.
However, will I feel the same wonder today, as I did back then? Well, sort of; but also no.
 The level thumbnail and the blurry Netricsa images were kind of like a bad omen. Though, the Netricsa images being blurry might be caused by the larger resolution.
For plot, there’s not much. Sam got lost on his journey to Thebes, and got lost. That’s about it. There are not many Netricsa messages either, just like 3 very brief ones about what to do, no real story whatsoever. Maybe if there were more explanation or lore behind the city, it would have been much better. Though, I have to say that the level itself really doesn’t need much of a story than the simple one it already got.
   Very Croteam-like. The outside areas actually really remind me of the Legend of the Beast levels. And not just in visuals.
Visually, the level is mostly 0k. The outdoor areas look nice, though maybe a little oversized, and very Croteam-like. There are unique buildings here and there, and large, though quite empty areas. Nothing really outstanding visually, but very official-like on that front as well. Not much of a complaint there, outside of one LITTLE pet-peeve of mine as a mapper: Every tree on the map faces the same way, creating a really unnatural environment.
 Look at them standing in a line, all facing the same way! AAAGH!
The indoor areas were more of a mixed bag. They weren’t really that bad, but nothing really outstanding either. One problem is that for some reason, all doors appear full bright, even in a mostly dark room. Another problem I found all around the indoor areas were shadows “cut in half”.
 It’s okay, Devo. It’s not that bad.
Gameplay wise, well… The readme file (Which is well made, and wow, Damjan tested this level!) is mostly right about the difficulty: It’s too easy on Easy, however it can be quite tough on Normal, mostly due to the moderate ammo and health around the map. It’s not too bad, but it really makes the map feel to be part of the Legend of the Beast SSHD DLC campaign. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, just kinda different, where you have to really conserve your ammo and health.
The early enemy spawning is mostly monotonous as well: Two enemies spawn, you kill them, two more spawn from the same place. Not exactly ideal, but not that noticeable when fighting a larger group. In about the second half of the level, the enemy spawning becomes a little better, so not much complaints there either. The level layout itself is simple, and somewhat short, but it works for the most part. However, there are NO secrets on the level whatsoever, besides a single rocket ammo trap I found. The level itself also supports Coop, which is some plus points for me, however I didn’t actually test for that this time around.
One more complaint about the level is the choice of music. Now, I maintain the idea that personal taste for any kind of genre shouldn’t affect the music of a map, but the map itself should affect the music, however, I think that the creator of the map really liked using that War theme in this map. I think that theme played over and over even if you’re just fighting a single kamikaze is just a little too much, as it’s a music “designed” for large and chaotic battles, or bosses. The other tracks used are the standard themes of the original game, and they work well.
Overall, the map is actually quite nice. It really has a touch of ye olde TFE feeling of the past, and besides a few complaints about the indoors and some of the battles, it is really very well made for someone’s very first Serious Sam map. Just because of this, I give it 5 extra points for unlocking the “Newbie Effort” achievement. (:P)
Overall Score : 60/100 - Fair
Download 
- Reviewed by Solais

Triphon

Author(s) : Kaiser
Game : The First Encounter
Type : Single Player / Coop


Ah, Triphon. This map got a sort-of sentimental value to me. I was like only 10 or 11, when I found this map on this very site. I played it and I really liked it. I liked that the story was set between Metropolis and Alley of Sphinxes, so I wondered if I could maybe add this level to the main campaign, as secret. This idea slept since then, and now I have the Extended project. Some things never change.

However, will I feel the same wonder today, as I did back then? Well, sort of; but also no.

H7XIyyms.jpg T4XIAXus.jpg
The level thumbnail and the blurry Netricsa images were kind of like a bad omen. Though, the Netricsa images being blurry might be caused by the larger resolution.

For plot, there’s not much. Sam got lost on his journey to Thebes, and got lost. That’s about it. There are not many Netricsa messages either, just like 3 very brief ones about what to do, no real story whatsoever. Maybe if there were more explanation or lore behind the city, it would have been much better. Though, I have to say that the level itself really doesn’t need much of a story than the simple one it already got.

fOboVQps.jpg caB3vj7s.jpg XksOYsas.jpg
Very Croteam-like. The outside areas actually really remind me of the Legend of the Beast levels. And not just in visuals.

Visually, the level is mostly 0k. The outdoor areas look nice, though maybe a little oversized, and very Croteam-like. There are unique buildings here and there, and large, though quite empty areas. Nothing really outstanding visually, but very official-like on that front as well. Not much of a complaint there, outside of one LITTLE pet-peeve of mine as a mapper: Every tree on the map faces the same way, creating a really unnatural environment.

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Look at them standing in a line, all facing the same way! AAAGH!

The indoor areas were more of a mixed bag. They weren’t really that bad, but nothing really outstanding either. One problem is that for some reason, all doors appear full bright, even in a mostly dark room. Another problem I found all around the indoor areas were shadows “cut in half”.

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It’s okay, Devo. It’s not that bad.

Gameplay wise, well… The readme file (Which is well made, and wow, Damjan tested this level!) is mostly right about the difficulty: It’s too easy on Easy, however it can be quite tough on Normal, mostly due to the moderate ammo and health around the map. It’s not too bad, but it really makes the map feel to be part of the Legend of the Beast SSHD DLC campaign. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, just kinda different, where you have to really conserve your ammo and health.

The early enemy spawning is mostly monotonous as well: Two enemies spawn, you kill them, two more spawn from the same place. Not exactly ideal, but not that noticeable when fighting a larger group. In about the second half of the level, the enemy spawning becomes a little better, so not much complaints there either.
The level layout itself is simple, and somewhat short, but it works for the most part. However, there are NO secrets on the level whatsoever, besides a single rocket ammo trap I found.
The level itself also supports Coop, which is some plus points for me, however I didn’t actually test for that this time around.

One more complaint about the level is the choice of music. Now, I maintain the idea that personal taste for any kind of genre shouldn’t affect the music of a map, but the map itself should affect the music, however, I think that the creator of the map really liked using that War theme in this map. I think that theme played over and over even if you’re just fighting a single kamikaze is just a little too much, as it’s a music “designed” for large and chaotic battles, or bosses. The other tracks used are the standard themes of the original game, and they work well.

Overall, the map is actually quite nice. It really has a touch of ye olde TFE feeling of the past, and besides a few complaints about the indoors and some of the battles, it is really very well made for someone’s very first Serious Sam map. Just because of this, I give it 5 extra points for unlocking the “Newbie Effort” achievement. (:P)

Overall Score : 60/100 - Fair


Download

- Reviewed by Solais

Rusutaku Assault! (Part 5)

Author(s) : DI Joe aka Rusutaku
Game : Serious Sam : The Second Encounter
Type : Single Player/Cooperative


Reaching the final leg of the campaign, we begin to see larger fights and even larger locales. This week, we’ll look at the final 2 scenes and wrap up our thoughts with a final score. I am almost sad, because it’s been a long and fun ride, despite the campaign’s many flaws. Alas, all good things must come to an end!


Scene 9 - Dive into Binary

If there is one thing that personifies the experience playing through this scene, it is dead space. There is so much walking involved, it is not even funny. I have no idea what the author was thinking when he made this scene, he had such a good premise for it and yet it is squandered. For this, it definitely is one of the most disappointing scenes I have played so far in this campaign.

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I think it says something when THIS is what you are given for a virtual reality world.

Okay so the premise of this scene is, as the title implies, diving into a digital world. However, you spend so little time in the virtual world that the title could be anything and it would fit just as well. Not only that, for some reason, you are given a Pistol and a Shotgun pickup there, which makes very little sense. Most of the time spent in this scene involves the final bedroom with an open-top computer setup and a TV, and the backyard of the house. Once you get inside the computer, you are taken into the digital world, which amounted to nothing more than 2 very plain Mayan rooms. After which you are teleported to the backyard, (through an admittedly awesome warp hole) and have to find your way back inside the house. The computer room is massive, and there will be a lot of backtracking because once the mattress flips over to make a ramp to climb into the bed with, there are no teleporters that quickly take you back to the top of the bed, and you will most likely have to drop down unless you know to plug the PC to the wall socket before turning the power strip on. Oh, and guess what! The floor hurts you if you fall from a great height! The backyard is not that much better either, it spans the entire length of the house twice in an L-shape, and you are still the size of an ant. You will therefore be doing a lot of running around for supplies in between waves.

Speaking of supplies, the author went way overboard this time with the ammo, littering the place full of ammo for the Tommygun, Minigun, Laser gun as well as regular backpacks. You are given a lot of Serious Damage and Serious Speed powerups to deal with the large waves. There is so much space to run around though that those powerups are not really needed for survival. So much so that the question is not if you are able to make do with the supplies given, but if you want to bother running for several minutes straight to pick up all the supplies. Strangely enough, this scene is relatively low on armor pickups.

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Given the size of these areas, you would think that the author would get the idea to make travel faster. So much walking…

Another issue with this scene is that the hills in the backyard suddenly cuts off where the outer walls are placed, breaking the immersion of the scene, and making the whole campaign feel really rushed. It certainly does not help that there are so little detail props placed in the backyard like pebbles and large grass blades. That makes for very limited options for exploration compared to the computer room. Ironically, there is nothing to be gained from exploring the nooks and crannies there, except having to walk all the way back to the mattress ramp, all while there are secrets, and even a gag to be found in exploring each sparse clump of detail props in the backyard.

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Yeah…

It is not all bad though, the fights are enjoyably large and varied, throwing you plenty of enemy combinations, like Cannon enemy carrying Kleers, Cannon weapon and ammo carrying Werebulls, and Bull-riding Biomechs and Kamikazes. There was a moment of tension for me when the Giant Lava Golem boss spawned between me and increasingly-needed supplies. The secrets are pretty clever and funny, including the gag that involves a cardboard cut-out of a Kamikaze popping up in front of you. I will not spoil the punchline for you, you will have to experience this for yourself. Moreover, the computer room is, compared to the visuals of the rest of the campaign, quite detailed. From the crumpled rug in front of the central table, the computer chair, the computer desk and the TV rack. I am willing to bet that this is a reconstruction of the author’s own bedroom.

Also a welcome change from the usual, is the change in combat music to an energetic japanese trance rap tune called “うらのおばあさん” or “Grandmother of Ura” , and we hear the return of “Polyushko Polye”. While they fit just as badly as the other songs used in this campaign, it is very much a welcome change from the use of “Genki” and “SkaSkaSka” for the combat music.

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Pictured : This scene’s high points.

Overall, this scene is a disappointment. There is so much that could be done to tap into the full potential of the premise, and yet, this scene is just fairly decent in execution and nothing more. The virtual world section could have been a bustling cyberpunk downtown section where Mental’s forces are the computer viruses that you have to zap out of existence. It could include a gimmick where the only ammo available is for the Laser gun. Here is hoping that the final scene makes up for my disappointment.

So what could be done to improve this scene? For starters, some teleport points added to the floor level of the computer room that activates once the mattress ramp lowers would be nice. Having to run all the way back just because you fell off the table is just a drag, and it is not anything anyone wants to experience. Then there is the lack of any significant virtual reality sections, that could be improved as well. For the backyard section, I would have strewn Serious Speed powerups in a line leading to the arena at the end of the massive corridor. This could give players a choice of fighting every wave one by one slowly and safely, or the dangerous choice of fighting all the enemy waves one after another in reverse order. I would have set up a system of timed triggers that automatically moves pickups and powerups to the final arena once the player reaches that area. I would also scale back the number of ammo pickups, and vary them a little so that it is not all Bullet and Electricity pickups. Finally, I would not have chopped the terrain off at the boundaries of the play area, and would have allowed the hills to extend out a bit before terminating.

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Also, more trippy drop-holes. Always fun.

Scene Score : 66.1% (78/118)



Scene 10 - Unwelcome Visitor II

Hoo boy, talk about an explosive end to a campaign! This scene introduces no new areas, but it bookends the campaign is a very clever way, by bringing the player back to the front yard from the very first scene. As expected for the end of any Serious Sam campaign, this scene is completely focused on combat. Keeping this in mind, I am throwing the evaluation for the visuals and exploration out the window for this scene’s review score and will focus on the gameplay aspects.

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OH GAD! WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE! Oh…

The first thing you will notice after the end of the previous scene is that you are teleported back to the central table of the computer room, and that a ramp is newly formed, allowing you to climb up to the top of the wall of the patio. As you traverse over the patio wall, a space pod containing Mental’s reinforcements appears and slams into the ground, creating a big explosion, lots of noises, lots of shaking, and a crater. Thus the goal of this scene is to get downstairs and wipe out the reinforcements.

The combat this time around starts off in a high note, throwing massive waves of enemies at you as you head downstairs and to the front door. This is where you encounter the first boss of this scene, an easily-exploitable Highlander Bride. After you get past her, the enemy waves only get bigger and bigger, mounting almost insurmountable odds against you as you have to deal with a swarm of Kleers, Bull-Riding Biomechs, and many other enemy types that are fairly good at throwing death your way. On top of that, the second and the final boss appears at the same time. Another Highlander Bride and Ugh Zan III. By then, only your wits and reaction time are able to keep you alive. You have to kill the Highlander Bride quickly to make the home owner “GOK” appear and help you defeat Ugh Zan III. The mechanic is pretty interesting, every 3 minutes, “GOK” would zap Ugh Zan III with an orbital laser cannon, (Fires from the sky, hurts Ugh Zan III much like the spaceship from the First Encounter, only damage is dealt instantly. It is indeed an orbital laser cannon.) dealing massive damage and stunning him for a few seconds. So you just have to survive 3 minutes while the orbital cannon charges up, right? Well, it’s not so simple. Surviving while Ugh Zan III active is a lot harder than it seems, as there is also a massive wave of enemies still on your tail. Opportunities to damage the big bad guy are few and far in between, and you most likely have to wait 6 minutes and 2 orbital laser strikes to finally bring Ugh Zan III to his knees.

Where do I begin with this? Yes, it is massive and epic. I am a big fan of large scale fights like this, it reminds me of the final area of The Grand Cathedral from the Second Encounter. Things happen as you fight and you have to survive insurmountable odds until everything is dead but yourself. The sense of satisfaction of finally beating this campaign is quite an elation to behold. The combat is very very difficult towards the end, no doubt about that, but it is far from unfair or unbalanced. It is quite the opposite, as a matter of fact. You really have to work to avoid as much damage as possible, and to manage your supply of health, armor and ammunition pickups. Massive props to the author for choreographing such a legitimately difficult and enjoyable final fight. This is not something I see very often as most “epic” final fights in custom Serious Sam maps tend towards unfair methods, or an anti-climatic downer of a final encounter. I can understand that many players would simply be unable to beat the final fight, so I included a video for those who want to experience the final encounter without feeling too frustrated by its challenge. Expert players can skip this video and read on.

However, the gameplay in this scene is not without its problems. The first thing that I found really, really, irritating is the doorbell noise that keeps playing as you fight your way towards the front door. It is loud enough to drown out the sounds of everything else that is going on, and it is really obnoxious, not letting up at all through the entire struggle. The relief of when the doorbell finally ends and gives you a sense of relative silence is almost deafening. The second problem occurs when the second and third space pod crashes into the battlefield, heralding the appearance of Ugh Zan III and the second Highlander Bride. When that happens, you better hope that you are not in the middle of the enemy swarm, because it causes an earthquake effect so intense that for the next 5 seconds, it would be impossible to discern what is going on. When you are at the edge of your seat, trying to survive, 5 seconds of confusion can most likely be fatal. I can appreciate what the author is going for, but the quake effect could really be toned down so that players could still be able to fight with perceptive clarity when it happens.

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"Can’t see shit, captain!" "Oops!"

Unfortunately, this is also where the campaign vomits over itself and keels over in a network game. There are so many things to keep track of from the beginning of the campaign, to the absolute mayhem unfolding in the final battle that players are very prone to desyncing at this point, and would be unable to reconnect.

However, these are small problems that only puts a scratch on the solidity of this scene’s gameplay. On top of the intense firefights, this scene features new music. “僧琉” for the peaceful music, “Battle 01” for the fights and “舞踏派” for the final boss. The peaceful and combat music do not gel together very well and all 3 tracks do not fit really well with what is going on. I personally would have switched the combat and final boss music around. That would make more sense since “僧琉” and “舞踏派” are composed by the same artist, and thus more simillar. I am just being picky though, because at this point, I am glad to finally hear something different.

There is one minor issue that I almost forgot to mention, and it has to do with the ending of the campaign, right after beating Ugh Zan III. There is a delay of a few seconds, and then an ending cutscene plays out, showing Sam entering the crashed pod and flying off into space. At least that is what I presumed would happen. You can interrupt the outro sequence by pressing the fire button, and that is what I did because there are still enemies to clear out. You are still railroaded to the predetermined path, so it does not matter anyways. Like I said, it is pretty minor and it does not detract much from the experience. I personally would have scripted all of the enemies to die when Ugh Zan buys the farm, or allow the player to clear out the remaining stragglers and have the space pod itself be the ending cutscene trigger.

On the whole, I would say that this is a very satisfying ending to a pretty good campaign. The fights are very appropriate in volume and intensity, and the mechanic for defeating the final boss is a fresh departure that works very well. I really wish that more fan-made campaigns and map packs are designed with this kind of final encounter in mind. You have no excuse not to play through this scene, be it in single-player or with a friend. Put on God-mode if you must, the final battle is something that must be experienced by every Serious Sam fan. Period.

Scene Score : 82.8% (72/87)


Now that we have reached the end of the campaign, and evaluated all of the scenes individually, what would my final verdict be? Personally speaking, I highly enjoyed playing through all of it. There are so many things that the author did that is unconventional and off the beaten track, that for all of its flaws, trivial, petty or otherwise, it still comes out as a solid piece of mapping work. I really appreciate that he went out of his way to stretch the limits of the engine and the editor tools. This campaign is a testament to his unbridled creativity, and it is a crying shame that he was never able to create and publish more Serious Sam maps since.

You may also notice that the Flamethrower weapon is missing in action all throughout the campaign. This is most likely intentional, as most of the waves would be rendered trivial with its inclusion. However, for the benefit of those who insist on having a Flamethrower, I will include a link to a patch by BD that adds the weapon to the campaign at the Scene Selection level.

There is one thing that I must mention and address, because this is the root of so many of the flaws this campaign has, and it is the fact that everything is in one single level. So many of the issues with the plain and blocky architecture, as well as the poor lighting in some areas could be addressed simply by splitting each scene into its own level, or splitting the campaign into chunks of 2 or more scenes. This would have also served to improve and tighten the gameplay of the campaign quite a bit as it is a lot easier to edit a small level that is part of a large set than it is to edit a supermassive level. Finally, there are lots of missed opportunities for great secrets, gimmicks and gags that I felt would not have been missed if the author focused on each scene separately as their own levels as opposed to a part of a whole.

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Not to mention, stuff from past events in the map like boulders at the bottom of the stairs, and revisiting the beginning for the final fight would be hard to replicate in separate levels.

But then again, this fan-offering would not have grabbed my attention if it was not an entire campaign all in one level. I would highly recommend that you play through this campaign from start to finish, and use cheats if you get stuck. This is a great showcase of ideas which sadly could never be replicated in a more modern Serious Sam engine. ( Why did you have to disable directional gravity, Croteam!? That was the best feature of Serious Engine 1! ) After all, this is 2 years and 5 months in the making, if the readme is anything to go by. I think the author deserves some love for that much time and devotion to a single project.

As a bonus, I have created an OCRemix music pack for this campaign that replaces all of the music with music from OCRemix. This is for those who feel that they don’t like to sit through the author’s musical choices for the entire campaign. Links will be at the bottom, as usual.

Overall Score : 72.8% (837/1149) Good


Download : [Link]
Flamethrower Patch by BD : [Link]
OCRemix Music Pack : [Link]
Credited Artists : "Battle 01"