Serious Sam Double D XXL
Released for the PC in August 2011, Serious Sam Double D XXL has been revisited and teleported – along with Sam and his enemies - into the past-of-the-future of the XBLA marketplace. For a series about time travel, it’s fitting then that SS DD XXL is planted firmly in the past. It would have been no surprise to have iconic PC platforming heroes from the ‘90s appear in cameos. Sam, however, has all the friends he needs in his trusty arsenal.
First appearances count and Mommy’s Best Games have settled for a raw and unappealing menu style. In competition for the most uninspiring and low budget, it certainly won’t appeal to anyone and is aesthetically more suitable to a lower-tiered XBL-Indie title. On the surface this has a Flash-based appearance. The character models are simplistic in design and animation, their cardboard cut-out animations feeling unloved. The lands they inhabitant are drawn in a style similar to old 1960s comic books. After a few minutes it makes more sense and is soon second nature, and the critique here is in regards to the atheistic style rather than graphical prowess.
“Six individual weapons can be stacked”Appearances are not what Sam cares about, however, and the first thing anyone should do in a ‘90s inspired world is walk left. Do so and you’ll more often than not be rewarded with a secret treasure or room. The gags these entail are largely hit or miss, from internet memes I could not care less about to the absurd and smirk inducing. There are also some spelling mistakes – including ‘Laura’ Croft - and misjudged comedic attempts with innuendos a-go-go.
Not before long, however, several guns are being fired simultaneously with a single click of the trigger all thanks to the Gunstack. By collecting adjoining parts scattered throughout Egypt and beyond, up to six individual weapons can be stacked on top of each other. This leads to combinations such as a flamethrower that shoots slippery butter attached to a homing rocket launcher attached to a chainsaw that hoovers power-ups attached to a shotgun attached to a – you get the point, and Mental’s minions will be on the receiving end of it.
Throughout the three chapters a gargantuan amount of ammunition was fired. Guns were stacked to the realms of the obscene and subsequently many time travelling nemeseswere taught a lesson; a serious one, naturally. As Sam finds new weapons and adjoining parts, many of which are located within secret areas, up to five different weapon sets can be constructed, though there’s no tactical reason to go beyond two.
Sam is easy to control, and you’re always given the benefit of the doubt when leaping for ledges and higher ground, which avoids unwarranted frustration. Aliens can be leaped upon too which allows for some neat moments as you unleash a rack of weaponry into the cranium of a giant beast, or use their bodies to reach higher ground.
The few, to use a word thinly, puzzles are solvable via firepower. It’s Sam’s solution to all things and all men. These range from killing enemies to pile up a platform of carcasses, killing enemies to pile up their carcasses on traps or, as a twist to proceedings, shooting already piled up enemy carcasses to discover new areas.
“Brainless fun”While it moves without frustration it does nothing to innovate. Contra or Abuse this is not. An ever increasing level of skill isn’t required and most of the bosses can be ploughed through without a single thought. Which is part of SS DD XXL’s main problem: it’s brainless fun. Walking forward and holding the trigger is the aim of the game and it does it well, but never dares to step outside this comfort zone and create anything bordering tense or mechanically tight.
As the mechanisms started to rust from repetition Sam is cast into a different realm, pepping proceedings up a little. By the end of the second act it had started to stretch itself thin and the change into act 3 wasn’t enough to pique interest again, with larger battles that felt repetitive, as if the developer had run out of variations on ideas.
Included in this XXL package are Challenges and Head-to-Head Arenas, both providing side content that is neither intriguing or flawed. The latter provides grounds for two Sams to battle it out locally. Challenge mode is split into twelve even slices, each unlockable during the campaign by collecting hidden home-baked pies. It’s also worthy of note that the campaign supports local two player co-op, and a Serious mode opens up upon completion where you revisit the campaign with all your gear, and the speed is adjustable.
Serious Sam Double D XXL dishes out more of the colourful carnage the original was well received for and stuffs plenty of additional content into this gun pie. One ingredient missing, however, is innovation. It’s a mindless blast that’s suited for those that want to fire a ton of rounds whilst leaping about outside of the now typical first-person perspective.
Six out of ten