Serious Sam: Double D XXL is the ultimate edition of a 2D spinoff of a First Person kill everything simulator. Bit of a mouthful if you ask me. We originally saw an incarnation of this title released exclusively on PC in 2011, but this week we see an enhanced version become available on the Xbox Live Arcade. Developer Mommy’s Best Games has put together a bombastic twin stick side scrolling shooter with the hopes of replicating the mood and feel of the original Serious Sam titles, and you know what? It does so extremely well.
As you’d expect, the majority of the game is a standard Serious Sam affair, but in 2D. You’ll travel through Egyptian ruins, prehistoric jungles and all manner of other locations killing everything you see in the most explosive manner you possibly can. Memorable standard enemies from Serious Sam titles gone by make a triumphant return at the expense of one of their dimensions; Jetpack Gorillas, oversized bio-weapons, suicide bombers and one eyed monster…things. All are charmingly animated, especially when they’re dying in some kind of horrific fashion. Gorillas spin off in little arcs with gorgeous smoke trails before erupting into flame, visceral blood and guts splattering absolutely everywhere unless you decide to turn it off. Which you won’t. The game isn’t the best looking out there and it doesn’t really try to hide that; it is instead proud to be cheap, colourful and incredibly vulgar and that really works for it contextually.
Combat in the game works fairly well and is exactly as you’d expect. Hordes of enemies (the more the better seems to be the standard here, you’ll often end up leaving mounds of enemy corpses 4/5 high in your wake) spawn as you progress anywhere or pick up almost anything and you’ll often find yourself just holding down the trigger and adjusting your aim occasionally when dispatching grunts, much to Serious Sam Double D XXL’s detriment. Luckily weapons are exceptionally satisfying to use, with excellent kick and accompanying sound effects. Unfortunately, the console port really suffers with very limited options to adjust the sensitivity of the aiming reticule and it being exceptionally hard to control in general. It reduces aiming to feeling clunky and hard to manage in intense situations and that all comes together to become massively disappointing.
The main evolution of the series comes in the form of the Gunstacker System. As the name so tastefully implies, it allows you to stack collected weapons on top of one another (literally) using a series of crude metal bars and pipes that can be found hidden across levels. A maximum of 6 weapons can be placed on top of one another in a stack, with you being able to stack literally any weapon together in any order and even use duplicates of weapons if you’ve managed to collect them. This adds a degree of strategy as you must piece together a weapon combination that will minimise splash damage to yourself while causing the highest degree of destruction.
I’ll be honest and say I had an absolute ton of fun with the Gunstacker system, often spending 10-15 minutes messing around with different combinations and seeing just how many Chainsaws I could stack on top of each other to create the most carnage. Added to this is the option of purchasing weapon upgrades, 3 per weapon to add variety and a further degree of customisation in the hopes of making each stack a little different. Gunstacking is by far the most fun part of the game and creating new combinations then testing them out for maximum destruction will be by far the biggest reason for any potential replays.
The biggest weakness Serious Sam Double D XXL has is the fact that it’s Serious Sam, ironically. Poor sex jokes, shooting, half naked headless suicide women monster things, shooting, the occasional vehicle section, shooting and some more shooting are order of the day here, and all of it isn’t done as well as it could have been or as well as we’ve seen in previous entries in the series. Any attempts at breaking up the pace with puzzles or vehicle sections end up playing fairly poorly, but the gunplay isn’t good enough to carry the title on its own. This all comes together to make a title that’s pretty damn fun for an hour or so, but after that it verges on monotonous. The entire experience is massively enhanced with the drop-in drop-out Co-op play as you’d expect. After all, 12 guns killing everything is better than 6, right?
Serious Sam: Double D XXL is a game that succeeds completely in what it sets out to achieve: mindless slaughter. It doesn’t try to be a standout title in the genre but rather to provide quick injections of sadistic enjoyment with an interesting twist on a very standard formula. For the 800 Microsoft Point price point I find myself on the verge of recommending it, but I just can’t do so because it’s so limited in its audience. For fans of the series most certainly, but of the genre? Maybe, on a good day.
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