Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter Reviews

  • SashamorningSashamorning2,287,488
    14 Mar 2010 04 Sep 2018
    36 9 5
    Serious Sam is one of those guilty pleasures I absolutely love. Ever since the FPS genre got updated from the likes of Doom/Duke Nukem to Half Life (etc.), shooters have been more about the story, innovative gameplay, intricacies, details. You know, the qualities that we think of in the best shooters out today.

    Serious Sam is none of these. It has one basic premise: blow up as much s**t as you possibly can at one time. Period.

    Leave out any story, dialogue, and any extra perks, and boil down shooters to one thing, and what is it we want? To blow s**t up, and that's it. Don't get me wrong, I've loved Half Life, Bioshock, Fallout, all of the great ones that have come out recently. But there's a really perverse pleasure I get by mowing down hundreds (hundreds!) of mutant aliens with my minigun as I strafe across a field. And make no mistake, Serious Sam has some of the widest and biggest fields I can think of. The game really is low on frills and heavy on spawning aliens. Out of thin air, if need be (through the wonder that is "technomagic"... to quote from one of the data entries in-game that I didn't read).

    And the cannonballs. Who wouldn't want to carry a cannon around and shoot 10-foot uranium-enriched cannonballs down the battlefield and watch them roll over (roll THROUGH!) a bunch of enemies? God, is that fun! I swear, I really could replay one of the levels in this game for hours, just mowing down bad guys. Cathartic, guilty pleasure, low on brains. It's a good change once in a while.

    The achievements are creative. While there is your basic "beat the game" achievement, as well as a not-so-difficult speed run, there's one that requires you to turn on "hippie blood" where those hundreds of aliens spew flowers instead of blood. Genius!

    There are some co-op achievements. Co-op is where I have a bit of an issue. The old SS on the old Xbox allowed for split-screen co-op, which was fantastic. My wife and I played the hell out of that. The thing is that the XBLA version only has online co-op... you can't play with someone sitting next to you. And that sucks. (I understand the business model, but come on, folks!) Co-op is still cool, but... yeah, I feel like they're missing it here.

    All in all, though, the game is just how I remember, with better graphics. Not that I care. I just want to fire my rocket launcher a couple of thousand times.
    4.0
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    GamerDtK78Sorry; but this is no review. It's simply an overly subjective opinion with not even the slightest objective reports about the game.
    Posted by GamerDtK78 on 23 Dec 12 at 03:47
    SashamorningThanks for the feedback! toast
    Posted by Sashamorning on 23 Dec 12 at 04:36
    DevilishHazeThis is a simple review for a simple game, its a twitch shooter with lots of enemies and lots of overpowering weapons. Stretching it to a full review would be agonizing. Thumbs up.
    Posted by DevilishHaze on 12 Jan 14 at 17:16
  • Removed Gamer
    Gamer has been removed
    20 3 5
    Not since Turtles in Time: ReShelled have I been so pumped for an XBLA release. Serious Sam: the cult smash hit made in Croatia from 2001 is back with new HD visuals, 4 player coop support, and achievements and leaderboards.

    If you've never played Serious Sam before, here's a brief overview: You are Serious Sam, the most badass wisecracking hero this side of Duke Nukem. Earth has been getting it's ass kicked by the evil forces of someone named Mental (who we never actually see) and you have been transported back in time to stop him.

    If you still don't remember this game, think about the "everything and anything trying to kill you" approach. This is a very balls-out game: mindless action at it's finest. (though there are some simple puzzles here and there) You blow through 100's of enemies with weapons such as shotguns, machine guns, lazers, and a CANNON. That's Serious Sam in a nutshell.

    But how has the game held up over the last 9 years? Pretty good actually. I'll talk about the HD upgrade in a bit, but the core gameplay has that mindless charm that we all loved back in the day. I recently mentioned in my Quake 4 review that this style of gameplay feels boring in todays world, but Sam still holds up fairly well. The added bonus of co-op play increases the fun factor and replayability as well.

    Wait! This is Serious Sam HD, so how are the graphics? Well... to be honest they are merely okay. It looks a hell of a lot better than it did back in '01, but is lacking compared to most games out there. However it visually obliterates every other XBLA shooter out now.

    The achievement list brings a puzzling but pleasing look to my face. There are straightforward ones such as "beat a level" or "beat the game," to more challenging ones like "beat the game on serious (very hard) difficulty" to "beat the game without firing a bullet." Challenging yes, but they really add to the replayablity. My personal favorite is the one for beating a level in coop with "hippie" blood turned on, which changes the blood to flowers and smiley faces. Wicked.

    The controls are awkward at first (love the Y button quick save but hate the LT jump) but they are not tough to master. The price point is also debatable, (I have seen the original non-HD SS for as low as 2$) but still fair for what it is.
    If you dig older, simpler shooters like Doom or Quake, or even some more recent mindless ones, such as Painkiller, you're gonna have a blast with Serious Sam HD. The second Serious Sam (Second Enounter, NOT Serious Sam 2) is also coming to HD soon, so expect a review of that when it hits.

    Glad to be back TA!
  • TheCrankZoneTheCrankZone104,084
    01 Aug 2012 01 Aug 2012
    4 1 0
    My first memory of this game comes from its original incarnation, way back when I was in high school in the late nineties. I was very firmly ingrained in the world of my Playstation and JRPGs and the only computer I had access to was the family computer which barely played the only PC game I invested in, Diablo 2. 95% of all the PC gaming exposure I received growing up came from playing computer games at friends’ houses, meaning I never really spent time with any title, only receiving the occasional taste. My computer friends would gather semi-regularly for LAN parties and it just so happens that one of the rare times I made an appearance, the game of the evening was the original incarnation of Serious Sam.

    Despite my PC gaming handicap, I knew enough about FPS games at the time to see what was going on - a constant stream of enemies of basic AI, goofy weapons set against a Egyptian setting and lots and lots of yelling. From both the game and those playing it. In-between the screams and grunts of the game was my friends taking turns screaming at each other, “why won’t you progress?!” and then manic laughter from those impeding said progress. This would continue all night long until someone got sick of it, quit in frustration and they would change to another game. Despite the anger this title brought out, not a single one of them had anything but glowing praise for Sam and all his serious endeavors.

    Now, over 10 years after the fact, I finally took the dip and picked up the XBLA HD remake of the original game to get my hands dirty and see just what the fuss was all about. And what it is all about is killing, strafing, bumping walls for secrets and item collection running on a sugar-infused spree of insanity. Which is great if you are like me and can still find enjoyment in the earlier stages of the FPS genre, during a time when Doom 1 & 2, Duke Nukem 3D and others of the ilk reined supreme. For the rest of the gaming populous that discovered the genre in the last decade, or dare I say even more recently, run a high chance of being befuddled at why anyone would put up with such a vanilla, cardboard game.

    Much like another HD XBLA remake, Call of Duty Classic, there is zero attempt to spruce up anything other than the visuals, and lets be honest, outside of the textures of the ancient Egyptian backdrop, what has been redone doesn’t really do the game any favors. Instead of completely recreating the enemies that populate the world using the new graphics engine, it appears as if the old has just been reskinned. No new animation, no redesign to take advantage of additional power, nothing. Which, consequently, only draws further negative attention to the ancient AI which boils down to (depending on the enemy): run in a straight line at the player, shoot in a straight line at the player and/or shoot homing projectiles at the player.

    This is why I mentioned earlier in this review that there may be an age gap of appreciation here, as that right there may be a deal breaker for more than a few gamers, especially those who may have bought into the marketing behind this game touting this game as being up to snuff with a full-fledged console title to the common eye.

    If you are like me and neither surprised nor turned away by that, what is here is a fun reminder of an aspect of the FPS genre that is rarely indulged anymore - straight up twitch game play. Enemies just appear out of thin air ready to kill you or die trying and all the player needs to do is make it from point A to point B alive. Each enemy type requires a different strategy to defeat efficiently, turning game play into a beautiful, fulfilling dance of wanton death. The level designs have minimal depth with almost no objectives, story or allies to get in the way of the primary objective of survival and death bringing. Clutter-free shooting is a lost art that I was happy to welcome back into my life.

    But what makes Serious Sam so dang serious is its difficulty. Even normal mode was a challenge, so when I attempted the serious difficulty (which isn’t even the highest option!), I was immediately made to feel like a newbie who has never held a controller before. The game just destroyed my confidence over and over again without a single hint of remorse and as infuriating as it was at times, it only increased my respect and interest in the game. Unlike some of the modern FPS titles, Serious Sam doesn’t make the player feel like the game is cheating or has ungodly, sell your soul along with those of ten love ones to Satan aim - the game is just focused and relentless, putting the blame of failure and death firmly in the hands of the player, as it should be.

    I hate to be the rain cloud that pisses all over the parade that Croteam is (or I guess was since this game is over two years old at this point) marching around in celebration of the re-release of the original title in their flagship series, but this is not how one properly expands the market to reach new consumers for a game of Serious Sam’s heavy old school leanings (which appears to be one of the main motivations behind this iteration). What has been delivered is a reminder of the gun-blasting, entertaining triumph Serious Sam was, and still is, and a bundle of hope that the very recent sequel, Serious Sam 3, can actually deliver on the marriage of old school twitch game play with the new school’s technology and sensibilities that this HD remake comes nowhere close to.
    3.0
  • Norton AntiNoobNorton AntiNoob116,604
    21 Feb 2011
    5 5 0
    The best review that I read about this game was from GAMESPOT, credits not mine!

    You'd be hard-pressed to come up with a game that's anywhere near as intense as Serious Sam, from Croatian developer Croteam. It's an extremely fast-paced first-person shooter, featuring a great variety of weapons and monsters. It's got a good sense of humor and a distinct style, and it also boasts a very impressive 3D engine that's especially noteworthy for its ability to display a huge number of 3D characters onscreen simultaneously. Actually, the sheer numbers of foes you'll face is probably the single most remarkable thing about Serious Sam. Then again, the game has a lot of other great qualities, such as its excellent multiplayer mode, its good sound effects, and even its low retail price. It's undoubtedly a simple game at heart--but Serious Sam does an excellent job with all the core gameplay elements that are essential to any action game.


    Enemies swarm from all directions...
    One look at the box--it features Sam wielding a gigantic chaingun against a horde of monsters--and you'll get a pretty good idea of what the game's all about. There's some context to why the game is set around the ancient pyramids in Egypt, why Sam's facing an alien menace all by himself, and why his enemies can teleport into the vicinity without any notice. But all this is only to loosely justify the nerve-wracking action sequences in the game, as well as the consistency in the level design. The levels in Serious Sam are progressively more challenging, but most of them are very similar in their basic style. In this way, the game is reminiscent of countless classic arcade games--Asteroids, Centipede, Galaxian, and so forth--where the reward for successfully completing a stage was the opportunity to fight your way through something even more difficult. Indeed, much like in these older games, Serious Sam even tallies a score for you based on your kills. It's a rather risky approach--ever since Valve's revolutionary Half-Life in 1998, most shooters have focused on trying to justify everything about themselves, in an attempt to give you some sort of reason for all the shooting that's happening. But Serious Sam is much more straightforward, like the '80s arcade classics but also like the classic '90s first-person shooters Doom and Duke Nukem 3D. It completely succeeds in its simplicity, because the game looks great, the controls are very responsive, and the monsters are a real challenge to fight.

    Serious Sam plays much like any other recent shooter, but faster. Most players will find that the default keyboard controls for movement and mouse controls for shooting and aiming are ideal. Even the weakest enemies in the game shoot fast, so you'll immediately find that quick reflexes are necessary to survive in Serious Sam. Fortunately, all of Sam's weapons are very direct--each new one you find seems bigger and stronger than the last--and you need never worry about manually reloading them, using alternate modes of fire, or anything of the sort. There's no time for these things, since you're almost always busy fending off hordes of quick, deadly monsters. Some of these will fire at you from a distance, while many will simply rush towards you. All are utterly relentless. The comical monsters in Serious Sam stand in stark contrast to the beautiful if sparse Egyptian settings in the game. Still, many of the different monsters in Serious Sam are a pleasure to battle again and again. They lunge at you so ferociously that, every time you manage to dodge them, it's a near miss.


    ...and the opponents come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes
    Serious Sam would be nothing without its proprietary 3D engine. It renders large, wide-open spaces and indoor environments equally well, and always very smoothly on a mid-range or high-end system. Although the level architecture in Serious Sam is fairly basic--you'll quickly lose track of all the wide-open arenas you fight through--such settings are perfect for the game's large-scale confrontations. In between skirmishes, when you do get a chance to admire your surroundings, you'll notice some of the impressive details in the 3D engine. All the environments in the game are drawn using very clear, colorful texture maps that look great even when you get right up close to them. Realistic lighting effects, which are used in the game to depict different times of day among other things, make the levels more true to life. The engine also has a few unique effects, such as pools of water that reflect shimmering light onto the walls nearby. You'll be especially impressed with the sheer size of the levels. Your character runs very quickly, but you'll still feel like you're moving quite a distance to get from one end of a level to the other. And what with hundreds of bad guys standing between you and the exit, once you finally get to the end of the level, you'll feel a real sense of accomplishment.

    The great number of enemies is also possible only because of the engine used to make the game. The monsters in Serious Sam aren't the most detailed in any shooter to date, but they do look fairly good and are animated smoothly. It practically goes without saying that they bleed like crazy when you shoot them. It's incredible that the game can throw dozens upon dozens of them at you at a time, with hardly any compromise in the smooth frame rate. Since many of these monsters are fast, accurate, and powerful, having to take on so many of them at once is an experience that you won't soon forget.

    Serious Sam doesn't just look good. Its use of sound is effective, though the sounds themselves are fairly terse. Most all of your weapons, from your basic six-shooters on up through double-barreled shotguns, chainguns, and rocket launchers, sound about as mean as they look. You'll almost immediately learn to identify each of your enemies by the distinctive sound it makes. Oftentimes--as with the screaming kamikaze troopers who blow themselves up when they get close enough to you--you'll need to listen carefully to gauge not just how close your enemies are, but where they're coming from. The music in Serious Sam is chock-full of bass riffs that play steadily in the background, and the soundtrack picks up when you're in combat and lets off when you aren't fighting. There are a good number of different music tracks, and though you probably won't pay them too much notice in the middle of all the carnage, they're actually quite catchy and help maintain the fast pacing of the game. Sam's also got a few choice one-liners he'll say during the course of the game, which give him character and otherwise help make the levels more interesting.


    Even Sam's relatively weak weapons pack a lot of punch
    The levels in Serious Sam are essentially there to let you engage in its countless battles against ridiculous odds. Their design is never confusing. For the most part, you'll always know exactly where to go next, while retreating and other such tactical considerations generally aren't possible, since you usually must kill all your enemies in the area before the next part of the level even opens up. The levels are usually balanced such that, once you finish off a horde of bad guys, you'll come across an area where you can pick up ammo and health power-ups to replenish your dwindling reserves of either one. The game also uses a certain gimmick over and over in its level design: Pretty much whenever you see a bunch of health and ammo lying around, you're going to need it, because grabbing power-ups usually triggers an onslaught of monsters to head your way. Though this can become very predictable in itself--you may find yourself saving the game whenever you happen across a tempting item of some kind--there's actually enough variety in the encounters that it never really gets old, mostly because the fighting is just so much fun. Since the basic action in Serious Sam is so well done, and rewards skill and timing, don't be surprised to find yourself replaying its levels over and over. It's even better on the higher difficulty settings, which somehow manage to make the odds even less favorable and will test the mettle of even the most experienced players.

    If all this weren't enough, Serious Sam also features a robust multiplayer mode. For one thing, you can have up to four players play cooperatively or against each other on a single computer, using a split-screen mode. This won't be practical for most players, but it is still suggestive of the power of the game's engine, which readily handles the multiple simultaneous views. Otherwise the game has a built-in player-matching feature, and with it you can already find plenty of Serious Sam servers running on the Internet. Serious Sam is fast and stable over the Internet, and while the deathmatch modes can be fun, going through the single-player levels cooperatively with other live players is especially enjoyable. The game offers a very amusing selection of character models to choose from for multiplayer, all of which are like Serious Sam rejects: guys like Pirate Pete, Hilarious Harry, and so on.


    You'll need to learn which guns work best in which situations
    It's also worth pointing out that Serious Sam even comes packaged with proprietary level editing and 3D modeling tools for those players who're interested in building on the game's great foundation. Given how enjoyable the game is, and given that it retails for less than $20, there's no question that it'll spawn countless player-made maps, character models, and modes of play, extending the game's already impressive replay value indefinitely.

    Serious Sam is essentially perfect for what it is. It's a great looking, fun-filled game that has plenty of visceral thrills and absolutely, positively the biggest battles in any shooter to date. Its single-player mode has a lot of depth thanks to the numerous secrets hidden in each level and the different difficulty options available. And the game's multiplayer mode, especially the cooperative option, rivals that of the most popular shooters available. Serious Sam may not suit those players who prefer more deliberate, more story-driven, or otherwise more serious first-person games such as Thief: The Dark Project or Deus Ex; but even these players owe it to themselves to give the game a try. Ultimately, Serious Sam is a clear lesson in what elements are necessary to make a game enjoyable. It's an unquestionably fun game from an unquestionably talented development team.
    4.0
  • SnrmSnrm359,955
    14 Mar 2010
    4 6 2
    This game offers a lot! You can shoot all these monsters with a ton of guns! For anyone that remembers this from xbox, the graphics as said in the title are HD and they are a lot better!

    Nothing has been changed about the game really besides graphics and you can play multiplayer with up to 4 people online. There is no splitscreen sadly !

    There is some missing gun slots and many believe those are saved for Serious Sam The second Encounter.

    This game offers a good length story, you can fly through it on tourist difficulty. When you play on serious though the game will take you a long time! it is very tough on serious but if you manage to beat it on serious you unlock Mental which is CRAZY!!!

    If you have ever played Left 4 dead this is a lot like it but better in my opinion. Theres more types of enemies and tons more guns, its just a lot of Horde shooting!
    5.0