Serious Sam was all about fighting against what seemed endless hordes of enemies. Once you’re done with the first wave, you catch your breath, find power ups and do it all over again. Even way back in 2001, this style of game play in a first person shooter was starting to wane as squad based, class selection player vs. player became the status of quo. So here we are, 9 years later with a HD update, but is it worth the entry fee?
Let’s get serious.
For those of you familiar with the original Serious Sam: The First Encounter, don’t expect anything new in terms of game play. But for the sake of those of you haven’t had the pleasure of playing the original it’s simply run and gun, hold down the mouse button and drain your ammo into waves after waves of headless suicide bombers, giant scorpions, demons and a wide variety of other monsters that charge at you all the while you run around looking for armor, ammo and health packs. The biggest flaw some have mentioned in other reviews is the AI, and I think they’re missing the point entirely. The Serious Sam games harkens back to the mid 90’s when all enemies did was charge at you without any concern for their own well being. As with endless mindless baddies rushing at you, every so often you’ll have to face off one big giant ass boss throwing all kinds of things at you to dodge as well as having to kill off any of his minions. It’s strange to note I came across a bug where plenty of enemies would get stuck around corners, or trapped in areas when they tried to run at me. So the path finding is a bit off and it was humorous to watch one the suicide bombers continue to run forward into a ledge when they couldn’t find the stairs 10 feet to his left to get to me. It’s definitely nostalgic, but at the same time there’s really nothing all too new, and unfortunately that also applies for the multiplayer portion.
In a genre full of death matches and versus modes, it’s very rare to see co op play anymore. Personally, I love co op and that’s the only multi-player mode available. While playing co op, the more people you have, the more monsters are spawned. I love this feature, especially when the difficulty is cranked up its one hell of a blood bath watching 16 players cutting a swath into a wide host of harpies and the undead. The biggest flaw for the multi-player is that there are no dedicated servers. If you’re wanting to have 16 people jump in with you, expect some high ping ratios, and if you’re doing well and the host leaves, you’re kicked back to the main menu. I was at least hoping for some death match or some other modes of game play to add variety, but alas there is none. But I suppose given the nature of the game and how the weapons work. It’s very odd how the weapons work in the game, as there is no recoil from your weapons, making it all too easy to hit your target. The effective range seems to go on forever, as I’m able to kill plenty of monsters when they’re half way across the map. Speaking of your arsenal, there’s plenty of weapons to choose from. You literally get to run around with an entire army depot worth of weapons strapped to your back, and you even get to carry around an over sized cannon that shoots it’s respective over-sized cannon balls, along with a laser gun that looks like it was ripped off a x-wing. Sadly though, there are no additions to the arsenal in the HD version, just the same weapons that were there in the 2001 model.
Visually, the game is amazing. The textures and models from your guns, to the monsters have been updated. The same goes for the games engine (Serious Engine 3). From the bland, texture-less enemies of yesteryear have been replaced with highly detailed ones. There’s plenty of bloom to blind you, as you get to watch the light bounce off of your machine gun, not to mention blood splatters and “gibbing up” bad guys as you spam rockets into the fray. What irks me a bit; you don’t have a lot of options over the video. There are some sliders here and there but nothing for anti-aliasing and the like. Just vertical synch and screen resolution. Sound wise, I suppose they couldn’t be bothered to update the sound to “HD” as well. Sam still sounds like he was recorded at a low bit rate with his witty one liners that are comparable to Duke Nukem’s. This applies to the explosions, gun shots and screams of the monsters as well. We still have the same music; I suppose it would be too much to ask for new mixes of the in game music. I suppose I was expecting more in this department but it seems the HD portion only applies to the visuals, not the sound.
Last, and certainly least is the story. There isn’t one except for a contrived plot that where society has awoken some great advanced ancient race sometime in the future. Humans can’t hold back the tide of aliens invading the solar system, so they can only send one man back in time to Egypt to stop the aliens. After about 10 minutes in, you forget why you’re here exactly, but they don’t prevent you from enjoying the game. It’s not as bad as Duke Nukem 3D’s plot, but its damn close.
Is it seriously worth it?
For 20 bucks, I think it’s a bit much to ask to be playing the same game again, this time on steam with achievements. For those of you that missed out in a mindless action all those years ago it’s a bit much given the fact that even though this is the HD version, it’s still half of what Croteam wanted to put out years ago, hence the “The First Encounter” and “The Second Encounter.” So you’re really paying 20 bucks for half of a game. The choice, as always is up to you. Personally, if I didn’t play it all those years ago I’d say it’s worth the price, but to buy the same game I already own again, I’ll give it a pass.