This is getting serious!
This article contains some serious spoilers. Read at your own risk!
Serious Sam: Next Encounter is a first-person shooter video game developed by Climax Solent and published by Global Star Software (now known as Take-Two Interactive) and Gathering of Developers for the PlayStation 2 and GameCube. The game is part of the Serious Sam series, though the game in itself is considered non-canon.
Members of the Russian fan community have developed a fan-made HD remake of the game. The release date, however, is unknown.
The game starts out with Mental talking to an Evil Serious Sam Clone and telling him not to cause any mischief nor get into his personal Time-Lock while he's gone. However, a short while after Mental leaves, the clone decides to jump into the Time-Lock. Soon afterwards, Sam and a scientist are investigating an unusual time anomaly in a lab. It's determined that Sam should enter the Time-Lock and investigate the anomaly himself.
Sam teleports into the Colosseum in Ancient Rome. After appearing and clearing out some of the Evil Clone's forces, a glitch in the Time-Lock warps Sam far away from the Colosseum. Sam, still determined to figure out what's going on, fights through the Roman countryside and ends up in Rome. He carves a path through the enemy forces until he manages to reach the Colosseum again. After being tricked into giving some of his money to a stand made by the Evil Clone and seeing the large amount of enemy forces that are in the Colosseum, Sam decides to sneak into it via the sewers. Sam goes through rather nasty trip through the sewers and gets back to where he started. However, the Evil Clone is more prepared this time, and sends out stronger monsters at Sam. Finally, he brings out his big guns; a gigantic creature named the Diablotaur. Sam defeats the creature, which also shuts down the time anomaly noted at the start of the game. However, the Evil Clone escapes into another time period.
After defeating the Diablotaur, Sam is warped to Ancient China via the Time-Lock. Again, there appears to be strange anomalies in this time era. These “anomalies” soon turn out to be more of Mental's forces, most likely left by the Evil Clone. Sam travels through some of China's countryside and enters some old buildings located in the area. Sam then finds out that there is another Time-Lock in an old pagota, which is also the source of the time anomaly that NETRICSA detected when Sam first warps to Ancient China. Much like in Ancient Rome, Sam forges a path to the old pagota, traveling through castles and a village along the way. Finally, Sam reaches the pagota, and discovers a massive room underneath. However, before Sam can figure out what is going on, the Subterranean Hydra Emperor bursts through the parts of the floor. It's clear that it was the source of the anomaly, as it seems to have been altered by Mental for his own purposes. Sam manages to defeat the Emperor, which clears up the time anomaly and reveals the Time-Lock NETRISCA detected earlier.
After going through the Time-Lock, Sam appears near the lost city of Atlantis. Things start becoming more clear while Sam starts traveling though the icy landscape that leads to Atlantis; the Atlanteans had a connection to the Sirians, but the connection was still not clear at the time. Finally, Sam manages to enter Atlantis, and finds that every living thing in the city have become soldiers for Mental. Sam then fights through Atlantis in order to see what is causing the time anomaly. Near the other side of the city, NETRICSA discovers that there is an old Sirian ship buried underneath the city; more specifically, the throne room for Atlantis' royalty. Sam then boardes a submarine supplied to him in order to get deeper into the city.
Sam gets to the deeper parts of the city, he manages to enter the areas meant for royalty. However, there were several security measures meant to prevent intruders from entering the city, such as a strange void with four triangle-shaped platforms, a damaged gravity system, and a set of three mini Time-Locks that have to be cleared of monsters in order to activate the teleport to the throne room. These challenges, along with the monsters that were scattered throughout them, prove to be quite a challenge, but Sam manages to overcome them. He bypasses all of the security systems and finally manages to get to the throne room, which is heavily guarded by Mental's forces. Sam kills them all and manages to enter to get a chance to sit on the king of Atlantis' throne. After relaxing in it for a minute or two, along with a group of cheerleaders cheering him on for being so great for “finishing” the game, the throne becomes a trap door and sends Sam flying down into the Sirian spaceship.
Finally, Sam manages to enter the Sirian ship, and NETRICSA detects yet another anomaly in it. The ship becomes infested with Mental's hordes, showing that Mental was very interested in something that he discovered in the ship. Sam fights through the ship, and manages to get somewhat close to the core. Thankfully, there is a Gnaar with a taxi nearby, so he hitches a ride with the Gnaar to the core. When Sam reaches the core, everything becomes clear; the Evil Clone's goal is to find and reactivate an old Sirian defense system built into every Sirian spaceship called the Sirian Darklord. The Darklord is a very powerful mech that is nearly indestructible because of its powerful shields and ability to use the ship's materials in order to rebuild any damaged limbs. However, NETRISCA discovers that there are a few moments when the Darklord was vulnerable to attacks.
After destroying the Darklord, Sam walks to the remains of its head, where suddenly the Evil Clone pops out of it. It turns out that the Evil Clone was the one true mastermind behind everything that Sam went though, and that Mental really was off doing something else. Sam begins spanking the Evil Clone, and decides to take it back to the present with him. However, the teleport sequence was rigged to create more Evil Clones when it was activated. After Sam and the Evil Clone warp back to the present, the new clones are created, ready to cause more mischief.
- Beheaded Bomber
- Beheaded Firecracker
- Beheaded Kamikaze
- Beheaded Rocketeer
- Carcinus Lurker
- Chariot Harpy
- Common Aludran Reptiloid
- Devil Stallion
- Diablotaur (Boss)
- Dib Dib Dum Dum
- Elephant Gunner
- Guandi Sorcerer
- Highlander Aludran Reptiloid
- Juvenile Sirian Werebull
- Kamikaze Marine Mark II
- Killermari Rider
- Kleer Skeleton
- Legionarrie Ant
- Leikung Warrior
- Major Bio-mechanoid
- Minor Bio-mechanoid
- Monkey Zombie
- Phoenix Bomber
- Porcine Berserker
- Reeban Tooth Fish
- Sirian Darklord (Boss)
- Sirian Werebull
- Subterranean Emperor Hydra (Boss)
- Temple Guardian
- Tweedle Dum-Dum
- Double-Barrel Shotgun: A side-by-side double barreled shotgun that fires a spread of pellets at a target. If a point-blank shot is achieved, it can do significant damage to anything except the largest enemies.
- MK III Grenade Launcher: A grenade launcher that uses three types of ammunition; standard rounds, limpet grenades, and spider mines.
- P-LAH Chainsaw: A tool that has been modified for combat. Can be used to slash up opponents at close range.
- RAPTOR Sniper Rifle: A powerful sniper rifle which can be used to eliminate weak targets or deliver high damage to a tough opponent from a distance.
- SBC Cannon: Portable artillery that can launch cannonballs with extreme speed and piercing capabilities. Can mow down small to medium-sized hordes of enemies in a row.
- Serious Bomb: An extremely powerful explosive that will kill any enemy within a certain distance of the player.
- Sirian Power Gun: A powerful energy weapon that has two firing modes: laser and energy ball.
- Shofield Desert Hawk: A high caliber, semi-automatic pistol that has a similar damage output to the Schofield .45 from Serious Sam 1.
- Shofield Uzi Pistol: Fully automatic submachine gun. Like the Desert Hawk, the Uzi Pistols can be dual-wielded.
- XPML4000 Rocket Launcher: A rocket launcher that holds four rockets at once, but fires them one at a time, much like the XPML21 Rocket Launcher.
- XM4000 Minigun: A minigun that has been adapted to use 9 mm rounds. Despite this rechambering, the XM4000 is just as effective as the classic XM214-A Minigun.
- XOP Gas Gun: A flamethrower that sprays a pillar of fire when the fire key is held down. These flames can set enemies on fire, damaging them over a long amount of time.
Serious Sam: Next Encounter takes place in 6 historical settings, such as Ancient Rome, China, and Atlantis. Gameplay is much like other games in the Serious Sam series. The goal is to reach the end of the level while fighting off massive hordes of enemies. Weapons and ammo are scattered throughout the levels in order to make sure that the player has the weapons and ammo needed to reach the end of the level, along with healing items to recover lost health and armor in order to reduce the amount of damage the player takes per hit. The player can also use vehicles in certain levels, making it the first Serious Sam game that lets the player drive around in vehicles. Worth mentioning is that some weapons have a secondary mode of fire, provided first the player has found the alternate ammo type (e.g. the XM4000 Minigun can also fire homing or ricochet bullets).
Surprisingly little has been lost gameplay-wise, even though the game is built for a system weaker than the PCs that Serious Sam: The First Encounter and Serious Sam: The Second Encounter were made for. There are still large enemy hordes, and levels appear to be the largest ones ever seen in a Serious Sam game. There is only a bit of slowdown, but only when there are a lot of enemies on-screen at once. Graphics had been scaled down to make all the content fit, so they aren't as good as the graphics in the original game, but they aren't terrible either.
However, unlike other Serious Sam games, there is a more noticeable emphasis on points. In previous games and future games, points are there for fun and there's nothing that can really affect one's score outside of a power up. The Next Encounter is slightly different for several reasons. First, there is a game mechanic called “Super Combo Killing Spree” that gives the player a speed boost and doubles the amount of points they get for around 10 or so seconds. It is obtained by killing 20 enemies as long as there is a “Combo x” indicator on the screen. If this indicator disappears, the player's kill count is reset.
There are other differences between this game and the main series. At the end of each level's results screen, the player's score will be judged- if they have scored enough points, cleared the level under the par time, killed all or most of the enemies and found all secrets, then they will be awarded with a gold medal (however if they haven't been good enough, then they will receive either silver or bronze). Getting enough gold medals will grant the player access to "lost levels", and if they have earned a gold medal on all of the game's 42 levels, they will unlock a secret gallery full of concept art for the game and portraits of the developers.
If the player beats the game on Serious difficulty (Next Encounter lacks a Mental difficulty) and find all the secrets, then they will unlock cheats (god mode, infinite ammo, etc). Worth mentioning is that if the player dies they can revive themselves by sacrificing 5000 points from their score (if they lack this amount, then they will get an instant "Game Over"). However, this will lower the end of the level score and prevent them from achieving a gold medal, therefore it's advised to beat the game without dying even once. The medals can't be achieved if playing on Tourist or Easy difficulty.
The Next Encounter comes with several game modes. It contains the usual single-player, co-op and death-match, but also has two new modes; hold the flag and pass the bomb. Two people can play co-op, while four can play death-match and death-match-based modes.
Unlike other PS2 games, Next Encounter allows the player to play online. The online services are still working. However, it cannot be played online with the GameCube.
Serious Sam: Next Encounter received average to mixed reception from game critics. The GameCube version of the game scored 73.48% on GameRankings and 69 out of 100 on Metacritic, while the PlayStation 2 version scored 68.30% and 65 out of 100, respectively.
GameSpot gave the game a 6.5 out of 10, saying: "If you've been playing the Serious Sam games for the PC or Xbox, you'll find that Next Encounter can't compare to any of Croteam's games. It is, however, still a pretty fun, simple action game. If you can forgive the game's dated-looking graphics, its rather basic gameplay model, and its comparative level of ease--which is, admittedly, a lot to forgive--you can have a good time with Serious Sam: Next Encounter".