About games and gaming thereof!

Serious Sam

Take two things into account:

With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that JPH loves himself some Serious Sam.

I’ve already decided that Serious Sam 3 is the next on my list of DO WANT! games. I’ve been playing Serious Sam: The Second Encounter in the meantime, which I never finished beforehand, and I’m absolutely loving it. But if there’s one thing that drives me crazy, it’s Serious Sam fans.

It’s not because they really like the series; after all, I really like it too. It’s not the fact that they’re over-hyping it; every Big Game is over-hyped these days. It’s not even that they use the word Serious every chance they get; I’m fairly guilty of that as well. No, what annoys me is that their reasoning for why it’s great generally doesn’t make sense.

If you want to see what I’m talking about, look at the tagline for Serious Sam 3: “No cover. All man.”

I don’t know how much of this is rooted in nostalgia, but a lot of shooter fans on the ‘net have decided that cover-based shooting is inherently horrible and stupid and an abomination on the games industry. They sneer at Gears of War and Mass Effect, and they complain endlessly about the various directions shooters have collectively taken over the years.

As such, when a company like Croteam dedicates itself to making shooters with old-school running & gunning, they jump all over it like it’s the Software Messiah.

I’ve said in the past that I really like the old-school style of shooting, since it’s fast-paced and it’s all about movement. But I don’t think cover-based shooting is inherently bad. If it were, it wouldn’t be so popular. It’s just different. It can work quite well if it’s done properly and it fits the game’s tone and gameplay. (Deus Ex: Human Revolution comes to mind; I don’t think that game would have felt nearly as realistic and immersive if it was a run & gun.)

Moreover, if you simply praise Serious Sam because it doesn’t have cover-based shooting (or regenerating health, or the two guns rule, or whatever aspect of new shooters you hate) you’re selling it short. You’re not giving it the credit it deserves. Because Serious Sam isn’t awesome because of the features it lacks.

You can love it if you like. In fact, I encourage you to do so. But don’t love it for the features it doesn’t have; love it for what it does have. Love it for its brilliantly balanced and varied weapons, monsters and level design. Love it for its imaginative set pieces. Love it for its wonderful pacing, which always seems to follow every particularly brutal fight with a relaxing wave of beheaded dudes to let you take a deep breath and mellow out. Love it for its amazing optimization, which allows it to look beautiful while still running smoothly on relatively low-end hardware.

But don’t just love it for its lack of cover-based shooting, because that doesn’t make sense.

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One response

  1. I feel compelled to agree.

    Also, I’m forced to love any game that manages to make a wave of headless suicide bombers seem relaxed by comparison.

    September 28, 2011 at 2:29 PM

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