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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

CDV Interactive

 

Developer

Croteam

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

November 24, 2009

 

 

- Excellent visuals

- Easy to get into gameplay

- Possibly the definitive example of "how to remake a game"

 

 

- Occasional odd lighting choices in very specific circumstances

- Possible installation issue related to sound cards

 

 

Review: Serious Sam (PC)

Review: Left 4 Dead 2 (PC)

Review: Killing Floor (PC)

 

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Serious Sam HD

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

Having written an article some months back on games that deserve a remake, and how best to go about it, it seems strangely appropriate that this title should fall into my lap.  When Serious Sam first came out, I was still a devoted fan of the Unreal Tournament series, and very little could have pulled me away from that sort of run-and-gun action.  Perhaps it's all for the best that I missed the original iteration.  This remake of Serious Sam: The First Encounter not only hits the spot for good old fashioned shooter fun, but it also serves as possibly the best example to date of how to remake an old game with new technology.

 

serious sam hd          serious sam hd

 

Croteam's Serious Engine is now in its third iteration and it is sweet.  The very first moments of the opening scene, I would swear I was looking at a piece of live action film and not a real time render.  As the camera panned and I got my first look at Haptepshut's funeral temple in Thebes, the illusion was broken, but it still looked pretty damned good.  I didn't pick up on any sort of texture cracking or clipping

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issues while I was playing.  The enemies looked excellent for the most part, though the human heads some enemies still carried around looked a little blocky and not quite as detailed as what you'd find in other shooters.  Weapon models also looked really good and carried a faintly cartoonish feel to them, not a "Looney Tunes" feel, but more like what you'd find in Gunslinger Girl or the animated

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prequels for Dark Space and The Chronicles of Riddick: weapons that were just detailed enough to look real but missing details that gave them a realistic feel.  For something like Serious Sam, this works out just dandy.  If I have any complaint, it's a minor quibble that for some reason, looking up towards the sun produced a reddish light instead of a yellowish white one.

 

The sound work in this game is quite good.  There's not much in the way of expansive voice acting, but there are choice quips from the title character now and again that help reinforce the hyper-macho fun of the game.  The musical score is nice but it does tend to get repetitive after a while.  Sound effects are varied and help immerse the player in the game wonderfully.  The various weapons sound effects are crisp but feel a little light, again, something that works to the advantage of the game's overall tone.  However, it should be pointed out that all of these wonderful sounds came to me after the game's installation process nuked my sound card.  It's a major black mark on an otherwise excellent game experience.

 

serious sam hd          serious sam hd

 

Gameplay is dead simple: run, shoot, survive, repeat.  While there is a backstory which seems vaguely derived from Stargate, it's not the overriding motivator in the game.  Whacking weird enemies with large amounts of firepower in a short amount of time is the big draw here.  The original Serious Sam wasn't intended to have the team mechanics of Unreal Tournament or Quake III Arena.  It wasn't intended to be the challenger to the realistic shooter crown held by Rainbow Six.  It was, is, and likely shall ever be about fast paced run-and-gun gameplay.  There are bonus points to be scored for clearing out levels before the recommended time elapses but the game doesn't penalize you if you want to take the slow exploratory approach.  Indeed, it's probably expected your first couple run-throughs are going to be slow while you find all the nooks and crannies, looking for the various secret passages and secret items scattered throughout the levels.  Those looking for deep and moving storylines, richly nuanced characters, and experiences that touch your soul on its deepest levels are not going to find any of that here.  It's a cheesy good action flick writ large.  It's adrenaline and jangled nerves and sweat pouring from every pore in your body as you blast away against a seemingly endless tide of heavily armed freaks out to turn you into a gory little smear on the ground.  And damn, is it fun!

 

If you're looking to revisit the Serious Sam franchise, or looking to add to your collection, or even if you've never played it before in your life, it's hard not to recommend Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter.  Like I said before, this is the perfect example of how good games should be remade.

 

- Axel Cushing

(December 8, 2009)

 

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