Inside Pulse 12

Review: Serious Sam Double D XXL (Microsoft Xbox 360)

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Serious Sam Double D XXL review
Genre: Firearm Art
Developer: MommysBestGames
Publisher: Mastertronic
Release Date: 2/20/13

I honestly don’t know how to start this review. I’m not sure how to capture in words just how ridiculous Serious Sam Double D XXL is, and as someone who considers themselves a writer (there’s an ad for my book on the right of this page, cheap plug!) then that’s admitting a pretty big failure.

Should I mention the rocket sled? Because there’s a rocket sled. Or the sheer joy of trying to survive while wielding a chainsaw that has several other chainsaws stacked on top of it? Or the just straight up crazy enemy types, like the stacks of pancakes with vuvuzelas sticking out of them? Or donut blood? That’s all in here as well. But telling you about some of the insane moments is nothing like experiencing them, and you should really just buy the game and experience it for yourself. If you need more details as to why, just keep reading.

Serious Sam Double D XXL is a game for manly men. It’s about shooting first, asking questions never, and having the biggest gun in the room. There’s so much testosterone in this game that I don’t think you should play it before any athletic event that may require drug testing. This game put hair on my chest.

No prior experience with a Serious Sam game is required to enjoy Double D, though there are some jokes that do reference the prior games in the series. All you really need to know is Sam “Serious” Stone fought an intergalactic menace named Mental, and killed him. Mental’s forces are still causing havoc though, so it’s up to Sam to clean up the remaining forces.

The main Serious Sam games are First Person Shooters, Double D XXL is a 2D shooter, though Double D XXL retains the same style of the First Person games. As Sam you’ll face large waves of enemies in different arena-like areas, running and gunning your way through each level. The health system is even the same, you find armor, health and bullets. So if you’re a fan of the FPS games then rest assured that the general feeling of the series remains intact.

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The game separates itself in a number of other ways, like with the Gun Stacker. Can’t decide on whether to use the shotgun or the machine pistol? Stack one on top of the other and you’re ready to roll. As you play through the game you will unlock the ability to stack guns, and buy upgrades to the existing ones, in such a way that you will be able to combine the weapons in any number of different configurations. A fight with a giant gorilla does not seem as imposing when you’ve got a tommy gun stacked on top of a machine pistol stacked on top of a grenade launcher stacked on top of a shotgun. There are a ton of different guns to play around with as well.

If the sense of sheer firepower with the Gun Stacking system wasn’t enough, each gun has a number of upgrades. Nearly all of the upgrades are creative and well thought out. Some just have more of a tactical advantage to a situation than others, for example, the Air Buffer attachment slows Sam’s fall rate, which means if that gun is in your stack then you can get above your enemies and rain lead down upon them. Finding the best combo of upgrades to how the guns are stacked adds a little bit of tactical thinking to all of the running and gunning.

The level design is also really great with secret passages and some light platforming between battles that provide variety to the game. Some of the design is pretty clever too, I don’t want to give too much away, but there was an area where I had to create a bridge out of the corpses of enemies to reach a different section. This was completely optional as well, you can tell a lot of thought went into even the side content and hidden rooms that many players may not even find or experience. At one point you get a launch pad that you can throw out that you can bounce off of that attaches to pretty much any surface. This is used for level navigation, but is also just fun to play with in battle, I use it often to put some distance between Sam and the horde of whatever he’s fighting, but it’s also great to throw it down in front of an oncoming enemy and skeet shoot them after they bounce off of it.

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Graphically the game looks good, with a more cartoonish look to it than something like Serious Sam 3: BFE, though any scenes that have a character talking looks a bit…off, like digital puppets with a hand up their ass making their mouths move. That’s the best way I can describe it. That’s really the only problem I had with the graphics, otherwise the game runs smoothly even with a million things happening on screen, the game only ever stuttered when I hit a quick save point. It’s amazing with all the little character details that it runs smooth, plus there’s never really any sense of visual confusion. With the amount, varying sizes of, and different types of enemies it is still easy to identify individual threats. The game will occasionally zoom in or out as the situation applies for and is handled well. What the game lacks in visual polish in some areas is made up for with great artistic design in the enemy models and the background of the levels.

In addition to the art design, the music and sound effects are really well done. You can recognize different enemy types by just the sound they make, which is probably a part of being able to make sense of the chaos. If you hear “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH” you know a Kamikaze soldier is coming for you. The music can change from elevator style music when shopping or changing gun stacks, to balls out guitar riffs when you’re murdering everything on screen. Each fits perfectly with what you are doing. There is voice acting in the game and it is quite often hilarious. My favorite thing is just to see what the shopkeeper is going to say next.

The game uses the left joystick to move, and right joystick to aim. Right trigger shoots, left trigger jumps, left bumper throws out the launch pad. You can switch between created gun stacks with B. All of the buttons are customizable if you don’t like how they’re set up by default. The default set up worked fine for me though, so I didn’t change anything. The aiming with the right joystick works well with a reticule that appears onscreen, which turns different colors to indicate the health level of the target.

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The game has two unlocked difficulties, Chilled and Normal, and a third Serious difficulty that is locked after beating the game on one of the initial difficulty settings. The Serious difficulty adds a new character and new guns to play around with. The Normal difficulty is a good balance, you can’t just run into larger battles without a game plan, like for example fighting a giant flying laser shooting buzzsaw monkey, it might not make sense to equip the beetle launcher since the beetles, while effective at eating large enemies from the inside out, just fall to the ground while the monkey is flying around in the air. Man that was a weird sentence to type. Still it’s accurate of the thinking involved while playing Serious Sam Double D XXL. The game isn’t heavy on tactics, but just because you can stack guns on top of each other doesn’t mean it’s a cakewalk either.

The campaign can be played co-op locally, and in addition to the campaign there are twelve challenges and six head to head arenas that can be unlocked. The challenges are fun, like how long can you survive with four chainsaws stacked on top of each other. There are leaderboards for these challenges to compete for placement on. I did not get a chance to check out the head-to-head arenas. So in addition to the base game, there’s a new character for the hardest level, new weapons, the arenas and challenges to add additional value. The unlocked character gets completely different dialog, and the unlocked weapons are even crazier, making it really worth a second playthrough.

Serious Sam Double D
isn’t a very deep game, or the best game I’ve ever played or anything, but it is flat out fun. I’ve played a lot of video games recently that have felt more like products that someone is trying to sell, adding popular mechanics without understanding them. Serious Sam Double D just gives you different crazy tools of destruction and over the top situations to use those tools in and invites you to go nuts. I enjoyed the hell out of it and I had a big grin on my face from the moment I started playing.

Plus there’s a setting to make the enemies bleed donuts. Donuts!

Short Attention Span Summary:
Buy it, it’s fun. If you like it, go buy Weapon of Choice on Xbox Indie Games by the developer as well.