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Serious Sam 2

Phew. I've just won a titanic battle with a large robotic two-legged cigar-smoking T-Rex and it feels good. This ridiculous scenario could only happen (a) in one of my usual wheat beer psychotic nightmares or (b) in Serious Sam 2.

If you're familiar with Croteam's series you'll already know this, but Serious Sam is famous for gathering dozens of crazy enemies dredged from the deepest recesses of the developer's Eastern European mind and charging them wave after wave towards you. Dumb? Oh yes. But when you're armed with big and beefy weaponry, such as a powerful mini-gun and pirate cannon - then throw in a decent physics system, destructible scenery, ultra gore-splatter and technicolour explosions that singe the eyeballs - it becomes bloody fun too.

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MEDALLION MAN
The story - as such - has Sam tracking down parts of a mysterious medallion throughout the galaxy, which bestow him with the power to defeat his nemesis Mental on his home planet of Sirius. With a total of seven worlds and 24 levels, you rocket, grenade and bomb your merry way through dense swamp, futuristic cityscapes and hellish underworlds. But don't worry, you're not alone - to help you there are various indigenous NPC tribes who give you useful pick-ups such as health.

Jumping into an early level set on the tropical forest world of M'Digbo, I immediately begin delivering instant machine-gun death to various creatures including giant robotic spiders and a rather large albino cyclops. Every dead enemy splits apart with a satisfying crunch, sending legs, heads and machine parts spiralling into a shower of red goo, while any nearby trees crack open, their leaves scattering in every direction. Subtlety has gone out of the window, down the street, into a taxi to the nearest airport and flown to Belgium - this is fast, furious, visceral stuff, with over 50 enemies on-screen at a time.

WITCHES BREW
I soon warp into a different area of the planet - a colourful Land Of The Giants affair packed with huge mushrooms and other over-sized flora and fauna, populated by cackling witches zooming about on broomsticks. A change of weapon and a volley of lethal bullets wipes the smile from the wizened crones' faces, as they explode in a bright maelstrom of sparks. As well as his armoury, Sam can also now climb into and use stationary turrets. In addition, new power-ups give him extra abilities such as super-strength, good for throwing massive objects at foes.

Big bosses, always a feature of Sam games, are also back with a vengeance and promise to be the largest in-game enemies ever created. We can't confirm this - most are under wraps at the moment - but we've learned of a King Kong-style ape called Kwongo, who will batter anyone in sight. Or maybe throw giant lumps of shit at them. Either way, it's pretty grisly.

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Next up, is the planet Magnor and Hong-Pong (yes, you read right) - a city with an eastern flavour, from the wooden architecture to the large zombie ninjas chucking razor-sharp shurikens at you. Here, I get a taste of the puzzles in Serious Sam 2, which to be honest, won't really tax even the most brain-dead of electrical department store employees, simply consisting of block-moving and lever-pulling. Still, the action continues at a blur, Mental's minions pouring out to attack and now including helicopters and large metal balls that roll around trying to mash your potatoes.

As the difficulty ramps up, Croteam introduces a hover-bike with fast-firing lasers that Sam controls in third-person. Over ten vehicles are set to feature, including a surf-board and alien ship, but you also have the opportunity to ride and fight on the back of numerous animals and fantasy beasts.

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