Serious Sam 2 dispenses with all the plot and pretenses of first person shooters to deliver tonnes of action, big guns and stupid fun.
In many ways, the first person shooter genre has evolved into gaming's most movie-like experience. The first person perspective means that the action is at its most visceral, and the best games feature intricate plots, character interaction, strategy and spades of spectacle. Serious Sam 2, however, dispenses with all pretenses to deliver tonnes of action, big guns and stupid fun.
Just like a like a pornographic film, the "plot" of Serious Sam 2 exists solely to break up the "action" scenes. Taking the role of Chesty Bond look-alike Sam Stone, you'll be battling the evil forces of Mental as you traverse a number of different worlds collecting pieces of a lost medallion.
During your travels you'll mow down literally hundreds of enemies. Coming at you wave after wave, from land and air, near and far, enemies include giant spiders, bulls, American football players and stockbrokers.
But while these enemies are well rendered and some are impressively large, shooting them individually is vaguely unsatisfying. Auto aiming makes it easy to take them out and enemy AI seems to consist of them running directly at you. Battle enemies in a mob, though, and you'll be glued to the screen as you wave your gun around like a maniac and pump the trigger button. In fact, the only tactical element of Serious Sam 2 comes from deciding what ammo to use when wasting opponents.
You'll be provided with a range of weapons, from the humble shot gun and sniper rifle to more exotic fare like exploding parrots. However, if you're a fan of first person shooters, you'll probably find the weapons in Serious Sam 2 confusing. For instance, the shotgun, an weapon traditionally brutal up close but useless at a distance, is deadly accurate at any range in Serious Sam 2. The sniper rifle on the other hand, offers a precision that is superfluous in a game which rewards ceaseless spraying of ammunition across the screen.
Serious Sam 2 also offers the player to chance to hop into a range of vehicles. Unfortunately, they are rather unimaginatively realised and poorly implemented, with the only stand out vehicle being a big spiked ball, which reaps a trail of destruction by simply rolling through enemies.
Perhaps the biggest let down about Serious Sam 2 is the lack of single machine multiplayer play. While system link multiplayer is supported, the mindless action in Serious Sam 2 screams for a bit of multiplayer mayhem from one machine.
Ultimately though, while Serious Sam 2 might be the Michael Bay (the "auteur" behind mindless Hollywood fare such as Pearl Harbor and Armageddon) movie equivalent for the gaming world, a reading analogy is also apt. While on the one hand you may enjoy a good piece of literature for its scope, imagination and sheer artistry, you might on the other hand also enjoy flicking through the latest issue of Ralph magazine while sitting on the toilet. Serious Sam 2 is the Ralph magazine of the gaming canon. Good as a diversion, but ultimately unfulfilling.