Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Review: Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter

6:00 PM on 11.29.2009 // Jim Sterling

Screw Duke Nukem. Sam "Serious" Stone is the real king of first-person-shooter meatheads and if anybody deserved to make a triumphant comeback, it was him. Sure, Sam may not be quite as high profile, and his games may not be quite as refined, but at least Sam's adventures are released on time, and who needs refinement when you've got headless men running toward you with bombs in their hands?

Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter takes us back to Sam's very first adventure, giving the near-ten-year-old shooter a fresh coat of paint, a new Serious Engine, and 16-player co-op. All worthy additions, but is this a case of mutton dressed as lamb, or does Sam still have the stones? Read on as we review Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter.

Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter (XBLA, PC [reviewed])
Developer: Croteam
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Released: November 24, 2009
MSRP: 1200 MS Points (XBLA), $19.99 (PC)

Nobody will ever accuse Serious Sam of being a complicated game. In fact, as first-person-shooters grow more and more complex, The First Encounter feels like a simplistic island of calm in an ocean of convoluted gameplay gimmickry. The concept behind Serious Sam -- a concept that it sticks with religiously from beginning to end -- is incredibly easy to grasp: There are big guns. There are big monsters. The big monsters need to be shot with the big guns.

The First Encounter is as close to purity as one can expect. While modern shooters experiment with perks and parkour, Serious Sam refuses to surrender the principles of the early nineties. Health packs are liberally strewn around in a mockery of regenerative health mechanics. Shields are offered like they didn't go out of fashion five years ago. The most complicated this game gets is giving you the occasional button to press in order to open a door. It's not rocket science, although rockets are generally involved.

The only thing the player has to be concerned with is endlessly firing shotguns, lasers, miniguns, cannons and grenade launchers at waves upon waves of demented enemies. Be they galloping skeletons, charging bulls, or giant brains on metal legs, the twisted bestiary hurls itself at you at every turn. All you need to worry about is keeping the trigger held and making sure to avoid the endless stream of projectiles and claws that fly your way.

Just because Serious Sam is simple, however, that doesn't mean it's easy. In fact, if you've never played a game in the series before, be warned now -- this thing is insanely tough. Not only are the enemies numerous, they are also formidable, with just one monster fully capable of reducing your health by tens, let alone the hundreds of enemies that will constantly bumrush you, fire homing projectiles at you, or tear you apart with chaingun fire. At times the game can feel overwhelming, even impossible, and I must confess that I eventually left solo shooting behind when I faced what must have been a thousand charging skeletons.

Fortunately, the single-player is not the main event in The First Encounter. If the campaign is too overwhelming in single-player, you can always call for help and tackle the forces of evil with up to sixteen other players. Not only does this make the game more manageable, it's also ludicrous amounts of fun, turning the game into something more akin to a giant war than a traditional shooter.

Armed with multiple allies (not the mention the ability to respawn), Serious Sam becomes less about worrying over health levels and ammo conservation, and more about simply blasting everything in the way, which is what Serious Sam should always be about. Thanks to the general chaos of the game, having so many people play co-operatively never feels confusing. What's to be confused about? You just shoot stuff. All the time.

One major gripe, however, is how stingy the game can sometimes be with ammo, especially for the guns that are actually useful. In a game like this, where constant, intense shooting is the only objective, not providing enough ammo for the decent weapons doesn't feel right. There are loads of pickups around, certainly, but never quite enough to deal with the masses that charge your way. Unless you're using the shotgun, which seems to constantly have ammo available for it, but feels less and less useful as the game goes on.

The game can feel repetitive of course, since you're doing the same thing over and over again, and impatient gamers will get tired of the game before its relatively short campaign is through. However, it's the perfect stress toy, the kind of game you can dip in and out of when you just need something to kill. It's unrefined and it's uncultured, but it's very good at what it does -- giving you the perfect venue to let off some steam and just murder everything you see.

As far as the HD improvements goes, the difference is very obvious. Even compared to later Serious Sam games, The First Encounter looks really impressive. Sure, it's not Killzone 2 or Modern Warfare 2 in the visuals department, but as far as remakes goes, this is definitely one of the better HD paintjobs I've seen. It's bright, colorful and clear, and the monsters especially look great in their shiny new togs. The sixteen player co-op mode works out great too, with games considerably quick and easy to get into. My first few experiences were met with some pretty bad lag, but the general experience has been smooth and sleek. Some form of versus play would have been welcome, but the co-op is more than enough fun.

Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter is a great purchase for both fans of the series and newcomers. Those who have grown up on modern shooters may find the primitive design and simplistic objectives a bit jarring, but the purity of the gameplay simply has to be respected. It looks really good for what it is, and the hardcore, old school shooting action is just as robust as ever. Whether you have a gaming PC or Xbox Live, it's highly recommended that you pick this one up. There are fewer examples of solid, instantly gratifying gameplay that you can buy for the money.

Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)

Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure JimSterling Tips
Destructoid reviews editor, responsible for running and maintaining the cutting edge videogame critique that people ignore because all they want to see are the scores at the end. Also a regular f... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
So... how long is it until we get the inevitable Colonial Marines or Ride to Hell: Retribution PS4/Xbox One re-releases?
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Screw Bloodborne. I finally managed to overcome not tearing up while listening to the entirety of Never More. Git gud! [youtube][/youtube]
NYCpunk avatarNYCpunk
you know what's not okay? scalpers with 10 copies of fire emblem fates SE on ebay for $200+. and no one is saying anything.
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Fallout 4 wouldn't be Fallout with ridiculous glitches and shenanigans. Here are a few I've run into - [youtube][/youtube]
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I've never earnestly went drinking before so it's cool to know I'm the slow, sleepy, impaired type.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Got to admit I didn't expect to find a mewtwo amiibo at my bookstore of all places...
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
My cousin found out I slept with his girlfriend and is pissed. Understandable. I am totally sick of the angry phone calls though. It reminds me so much of playing Call of Duty online. The screaming 11 year olds suck on there too.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Huh. Apparently even Japan has a Black Friday sale going on on PSN right now.
Lawman avatarLawman
Yes, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I know that somebody has 2,625 more medallions than me. No, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I don't really care.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
This fucking Bloodborne DLC, jesus. I'm on new game+, about level 90, and shit just tears my dick off. I don't know if I want to start another guy just to avoid NG+ and level him up, etc. sigh....
Shinta avatarShinta
Wii U, top selling black friday item on Take that you anti-Wii U people.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I am pretty hyped for when I get a laptop because I'll be able to have a good enough connection to stream XbOne/soon PS4 games to it along with natively rendered Steam games. Hype!
Avoclefo avatarAvoclefo
Got a PS4 that came with SW Battlefront this week, and planning on picking up the FFX/X-2 remake. Hype is through the roof, especially for FFX. If I were to get one other game, what should it be?
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Did a google maps search around my parents house for bars and there isn't one in like 25 miles, so I picked up an Intel compute stick and South Park: Stick of Truth on Steam. That's more or less the drunken screaming I'm in the mood for at about the cost.
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
Do you ever have that moment of clarity when talking to someone and suddenly realising: You're just a skull, and they're just a skull, with fucking eyeballs and a sac of skin being the only comparative difference between you visually? ..just me then?
Nathan D avatarNathan D
After quitting for two days out of frustration, I beat Ludwig on my first try of the night. I'm on cloud fucking nine right now.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
When I did my retail shift today, we were moving more Smash/Splat Wii U bundles and the Gears/Rare Replay/Ori XB1 bundles than Uncharted and Battlefront PS4s. I think Nintendo and MS have better value on their side this holiday. Sony got lazy.
Confuseddalek avatarConfuseddalek
I found this weird game called Samurai Heroes for 8 dollars today. Its not bad.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
Got Deadpool, Arkham Asylum and BioShock 1 and 2 all for 30$. Not to bad for going Black Friday shopping late.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
If you haven't played Tales from the Borderlands yet, GO BUY IT! By far the funniest game I have ever played, and the characters and narrative are incredibly well written. Very few memes unlike BL2 by the way.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -