E3 2011: Serious Sam: Double D preview—creativity meets mindless violence

Except for a few outsourced oddjobs, Nathan Fouts is the one-man army responsible for bringing something new to the Serious Sam brand. His indie developer, Mommy’s Best Games, known for Xbox 360 indie titles Weapon of Choice, Shoot 1UP and Grapple Buggy (all amazing, by the way), is taking Sam to 2D. This is an odd move given the franchise’s first-person roots, but Serious Sam: Double D is no less bananacakes-crazy than any of Sam’s other outings. Seriously, it’s nuts: one of the new enemies is a chimp with jetpack feet, sweet sunglasses, and a battle axe and machine gun for arms.

As a side-scrolling shooter, Double D is inherently easy to understand. You walk to the right, blow holes in all the dumb jerks in your way, and get to the end with your head still intact. Fouts is a clever guy, though, and small, smart touches to the traditional genre make it fun again. Sabotaging explorative players by bombarding secret rooms with a swarm of enemies? Cruel, but creative. Stacking corpses to climb to higher ledges? Morbid, but brilliant.

“Stacking” is a bit of a running theme in Double D. Its main hook is the collectible connectors, which let the player pile guns on top of guns. Rockets on top of chainsaws. Chainsaws on top of chainsaws. Experimenting with various combinations opens up different types of firepower—close- and long-ranged, explosive, melee, scattershot, etc. As the campaign goes on, enemies come in greater numbers to compensate for Sam’s increasingly insane firepower. Throwing six guns on top of each other looks silly, and firing all of ‘em at once, which cripples your ammo count, is similarly goofy – but awesome. We can get behind it: This is exactly the sort of humor that makes Serious Sam such a beloved series. That it impacts the gameplay in a way that benefits players is just gravy.

The finely tuned balance looks like a blast. We’re curious to see what kind of combinations the community cooks up to challenge themselves — playing through the game with six chainsaws? Rockets on the bottom and shotguns on the top? We’re already excited for what looks like Mommy’s best — and for what might be the secret finest version of Sam we’ll play all year.

Jun 16, 2011