STAFF REVIEW of Serious Sam Double D XXL (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013.
by Adam Dileva

Serious Sam Double D XXL Box art Serious Sam Double D actually released back in mid 2011 on the PC, but unless you’re a hardcore Serious Sam follower, you’ve probably never heard of it. Interestingly, Croteam, the original Serious Sam developers, announced that they were going to allow better known Indie game developers make Serious Sam games in their own styles and however they wanted. Three games came of this initiative called the Serious Sam Indie Series, and Serious Sam Double D by Mommy’s Best Games was one of them.

For those that have never played a Serious Sam game, it’s a line of first person shooters that never takes itself seriously and comes from a time where using cover would have gotten you ridiculed. Serious Sam is a man’s man and shot everything in sight with his plethora of guns. Nothing has changed here in the updated XXL version of Serious Sam Double D (This game referred to as XXL from here on) as Sam will be mowing down hordes of enemies in his path to battle against the evil Mental’s army immediately as the game begins.

So in the past year and a half since its PC release, what’s been added to prompt the Xbox Live XXL version release? XXL packs in more content, challenges, campaign missions, enemies, challenge rooms, leaderboards, couch co-op, and even more upgrades to make the Gunstacker mechanic even deeper. Clearly Mommy’s Best Games wanted the XXL in the title to stand for something.

So what’s the big catch with XXL that separates itself from other shooters? Hands down, the Gunstacker mechanic. As you progress through the game you’ll find new guns along the way, sometimes even multiples of the same types of weapons. As you find special connector pieces you can then attach guns to one another for an eventual maximum total of six guns stacked upon one another. That’s right; you are stacking guns on to one another to make a proverbial death machine of firepower. The more guns you collect, the more broad your weapon creations can become.

Finding all the weapons and connectors won’t be an easy feat though, as many of them are well hidden and will take many playthroughs to find all of XXL’s secrets. Once you connect your guns in any order you like, all you have to do it squeeze the trigger for all of your guns in that stack to shoot all at once. You’ll find many types of guns, ranging from Tommy Guns, Shotguns, Rocket Launchers, Laser Rifles, Grenade Launchers, and even Chainsaws. Something I wasn’t expecting though was the option to collect multiples of the same types of weapons. This means you can collect more than one Shotgun, Tommy Gun, or any other type of weapon and use them in your stacks to suit your situation. If you really want a close range weapon of death, why not try four Shotguns and two Chainsaws? Or if you need to quickly dispatch a mass amount of bad guys and suicide bombers, why not try multiple Tommy Guns linked with some Laser Rifles. Experiment and try multiple combinations and learn what works well in each situation. Or you know, stack some Grenade Launchers with Chainsaws for some whacky results.

A huge new feature included in the XXL version is now the ability to augment your weapons with special power-ups as well. In any level you will probably pass along a shop keeper that allows you to purchase new upgrades for your weapons (and let you change your gun stacks) with the currency you collect from killing the hordes of bad guys. When you purchase upgrades for your guns, you can toggle them on and off on each weapon (that you unlock it for). For example, you can unlock a perk that allows your Tommy Gun bullets either ricochet or go through enemies but if you purchase both, you can put each one on a separate gun if you wish. There are some odd augments such as changing your Shotgun’s bullets into bees, but this just fits in with the wackiness of Serious Sam’s world. You can even purchase upgrades that allow you to increase the ammo of specific types of weapons that you can carry at once.

So why would you ever need six guns stacked upon one another? You’ve clearly never played a Serious Sam game then if you’re asking this. Just like the series is known for, you’ll have dozens and dozens of enemies hurled your way at one time. You won’t just have dozens of small minions thrown your way though, there are also massive enemies that will be trying to rip Sam’s face off as well. All the classic baddies that you’ve been fighting for years return, especially the iconic creaming headless suicide bombers, but there are also some new enemies for Sam to learn and shoot down as well; Lava monsters that use pogo sticks to jump around annoyingly, exploding pancakes that irritate with vuvuzelas, monkeys with jetpacks that throw exploding bananas, and even cute kittens that are attached to glass vials filled with green ooze. Yea, the game is weird, but that’s how Serious Sam’s have always been. Each type of enemy will attack Sam differently and will pose a challenge when multiple types of enemies are coming at you from every angle and every type of gun stack will be needed to keep Sam alive. Not to worry though, as checkpoints are more than plentiful and you’ll never get too frustrated by starting far back into the level.

Another new inclusion in XXL is the addition of local couch co-op finally. Sam can team up with his buddy Dan ‘Huff’ Huffington to battle Mental’s army together which makes for a much more hectic game, but much more fun. If you watched the hilarious live action trailer for Serious Sam Double D, that is the hilarious Huff that player two gets to play as.

XXL features hand drawn art that looks like it’s taken straight from a Flash game in a browser, which isn’t a bad thing, as you have to keep in mind this is made by an indie developer. The gun stacking system is innovative as it is silly, but it’s intended to be that way. XXL features great humor with some hilarious one-liners that even made the teenage boy in me chuckle at its adolescent jokes. The childish humor is intended and fits perfectly with the absurdness of stacking six guns on top of one another and it never takes itself too seriously.

Unexpectedly, there are even a few levels that change the standard ‘shoot everything on screen’ formula up and make for an interesting distraction. One level even has you navigating a giant dynamite powered unicycle… Yup, that’s right. There are a few sections that even rely more on platforming and stacking enemy corpses to reach your next destination. There are even a few sections that you slow down time and have to platform your way up by jumping across moving rockets, but these sections were the most infuriating parts of the whole experience for me. The jumping mechanics are simple, but never feels really tight which brings the frustration when you fall off edges for the tenth time.

There was one really big downfall to XXL though, and that is the game’s length. You’ll finish it in one sitting; sure the game allows for multiple playthroughs to find more collectable secrets and better your times for the online leaderboards, but after my second finish of XXL, I felt I got what I needed from the game. That being said, I did enjoy XXL, as will any fans of the Serious Sam games or anyone wanting a mindless shooter. Simply turn off your brain and blow up everything on the screen with your stacks of guns. Also, don’t ask what’s going on or why, as it wouldn’t make sense even if there was an answer, just enjoy piling guns on top of one another and blowing up everything you see.

While XXL may not bring much innovation outside of the gun stacking, it’s a mindless but entertaining journey with Sam, as is the case with Sam’s previous games as well. I wasn’t sure what to expect with XXL being developed by indie developer Mommy’s Best Games but was pleasantly surprised by its perfect fitting into the world of Serious Sam; As Sam’s journey becomes more difficult, you’ll quickly learn that it’s not always about the size of your guns, but how you use them.

Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 6.5 / 10
Visuals: 6.5 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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