Serious Sam HD: The First & Second Encounter Review

Remember the days of the traditional first person shooter? The simplicity of running, shooting, collecting ammo and staying alive are long gone, replaced with big, complicated levels and a desire to use night vision. The times when I would roll in from school, watch Art Attack and indulge in a few hours of Quake before reading Goosebumps in bed are just a distant memory now. I miss being a kid, but most importantly, I miss games that were built for the sole reason of being fun. Thankfully though, some game developers are on the same level as me and know when they’ve been on to a good thing, re-releasing classic titles that have ultimately been just that – fun. Croteam are one of these developers.

If you didn’t play it back in the day, then the premise behind Serious Sam is pretty darn simple. A loose storyline takes Sam on a mission to save the world from a whole variety of evil creatures and mutants through a selection of historic locations including Ancient Egypt and Medieval Europe. The game is pretty relentless, seeing you fight wave after wave of baddies, all the time running, dodging and collection as much ammo as you can; and you’re gonna need it. Both Encounters are near identical in how they play, despite a few different enemies and weapons (and of course different environments), the idea stays the same.

There’s that many different enemies it would take the whole review to tell you about them all. You’ll fight bomb-handed brutes, skeletal Minotaur-type things, giant gun-toting scorpions and a generally big selection of monstrous creations for you to hack your way through.  Thankfully though, Sam has an impressive arsenal, complete with chainsaws for those close encounters, laser rifles, tommy guns and pretty much anything you can think of that could cause massive amounts of damage. It’s in fact very satisfying to find yourself a new gun to go crazy with, especially when you’re constantly faced with a selection of new enemies to get past.

Sam is easy enough to control, making the most of the controller without overcomplicating things. Usefully, the Y button acts as a quick save, so when you’re in a particularly sticky situation you can quickly save your current state in case things go from bad to dead, something which tends to happen very often in the world of Serious Sam.

Even though both titles are a lot of fun, they’re not without there drawbacks. Serious Sam is seriously simple. You run, you shoot, you repeat. This is the process you’ll find yourself repeating through both episodes, and despite a couple of little things like hidden rooms, there isn’t much else to it. Sometimes you’ll have to collect a set of items first, but ultimately, your goal is to get from one place to another whilst taking out a shed load of enemies. Both chapters are bloody difficult too. Even on the lower difficulty levels they can be punishing at times, pitting you against an impossible amount of enemies with sometimes very little ammo and health.

The biggest draw of these remakes is that both episodes have been re-crafted in glorious HD wonderfulness. In comparison to their early counterparts, they looks beautiful and both the environment and enemies look gloriously fresh and easy on the eye. It’s almost entirely bright and colourful and while this may not be a dig draw to some, it certainly looks the part.

It’s not just a single player adventure though, with both games coming with different multiplayer modes. The First Encounter comes with a four player co-op mode, whilst the second comes with more competitive-based modes such as a death match option. The real encouragement to play with friends comes in the form of a survival mode available in the Second Encounter. While you can play this one alone, it’s that bloody difficult as a single player venture that you’ll need a friend to survive for any respectable amount of time. It is. however, fun, and a great way to waste some time killing massive waves of monsters.

If you played Serious Sam back in the day, then it’s worth getting these remakes for nostalgia sake alone, but if you’re a fan of the simplistic but ultimately fun shooter, then Sam is definitely worth a look-in regardless. While it is at times repetitive and offers very little in terms of variety, these remakes have managed to make the game fresh enough to hold its own against the modern day shooter while keeping the charm and appeal that the original titles were praised for.

Bonus Stage Rating - Good 7/10

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox 360 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to

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