Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter
It’s seriously dated
Posted 3 years ago By - JD Speedy
I don’t think I’ve ever said aloud, "You know what Xbox Live Arcade needs? Another 90s First Person Shooter".
I just felt like, with Doom and Duke Nukem 3D, we’re kind of covered on that front. We have the majors, so why clutter the service with Blood, Redneck Rampage, Hexen, or any of the other offerings from the mid to late 90s shooter scene. It would be overkill. But what about a game so crazy that, while it feels like a mid-nineties FPS, is actually from the early 2000s and is almost parodic of those games in its execution? Well, then you’d have Serious Sam HD and one hell of a confusing title on your hands.
You see, I wasn’t that interested in Serious Sam back when it debuted in 2001. It was a shooter made by a team who held the belief that games like Doom and Duke 3D defined the first person shooter. Before the term FPS was coined, every game released where you looked over the sight of a gun and through the eyes of your character was a "Doom-clone" and CroTeam, makers of Serious Sam, seemed pretty OK with that.
Rather than completely reinvent the genre, or even attempt something marginally different, they tried to make the most 90s-style shooter they could. There were fast-running, non-sensically designed bad guys. There was a steady progression of increasingly ridiculous weapons. There were even giant bosses who absorbed seemingly millions of bullets.
And this is largely the same in Serious Sam HD. Despite the inclusion of the word HD, SS:HD is very much that same game, nine years on. The graphics look a little updated but the term HD is a misnomer in this case. So what you have here is a title that has not benefited from the last 10 years of game design. You can savestate wherever you want but that is about the only modern convenience you’ll have access to.
Instead of bad guys with some form of AI or even spawning out of monster closets, enemies pop out of nowhere. And they’re often scripted to pop out only when you hit scripted points, materializing out of thin air right beside you. This can make it hard to strategize in any way, and can hurt your chances of saving any amount of life.
On top of this, the old-school level design can be extremely confusing. Basically, this is a game out of its element in the glut of modern day shooters and should be approached cautiously.
There is also a lack of local co-op which is a really confusing choice. This game would be ideally consumed on a big HD screen with your buddies beside you. Split screen wouldn’t affect the gameplay too much since the graphical fidelity is so low, so it’s unclear as to why it isn’t included.
Graphics and Sound
Serious Sam HD looks better than its source material, but not by much. The game is funny looking, with the bomb-handed and saw-blade-headed baddies, but pretty it is not. I did run into some problems seeing enemies at points, because of the graphical fidelity, as ground texture is sometimes hard to discern from bad guy texture.
And if you are playing in co-op, there is no real indicator as to where your partner has gone. You know that handy little icon in Borderlands that you can see through any part of the world? The one that lets you know which direction to run to meet up with your buddy who ran ahead? Yeah, missing here. And on top of that, doors are not heavily indicated using the in-game graphics and sometimes seem to be randomly chosen. Like, every third door texture will actually open.
The sound hasn’t received any upgrade either, but that wasn’t really an expectation coming in to it.
For around $10, Serious Sam HD is a bit of old-school shooter fun but, unless you’re wild about the original, there isn’t much reason to pick this one up. There isn’t anything technically wrong with this port, it’s just the gameplay that won’t appeal to a large audience.
Here’s the bottom line: While it may have been novel to iterate on the classic FPS forms in 2001, I just don’t know where SS:HD fits in now. It’s too recent to be considered a true classic and it’s too old-school and hard for the new generation of gamers to love. It’s a misfit toy that can’t decide what it wants to be. It isn’t a long game, it’s extremely difficult and you will be hard pressed to find a co-op partner on your friends list.
Good reissues are either clamoured for by an adoring fanbase or updated in such a way that they become modern classics. I don’t remember the massive outcry for Serious Sam to make a dramatic comeback, so, for missing the mark on both, I’d say there are better ways to spend $10.
+ Wacky enemy designs are very unique
- Confusing level structure
- Trip-wire spawning baddies
- No local co-op
- No co-op partner location indicator
- Which one is the door?
- UI looks like it was stolen from Fallout 3
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Release Date : 2010/01/13
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Majesco
Developer : Croteam
Category : Shooter
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
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