Serious Sam – The First Encounter

Serious Sam – The First Encounter

Are you Serious?
Developer / Distributor: Croteam / Gathering of Developers
Release Date: 21 Mar 2001

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Rating: ESRB – Mature

GamersGate - Buy and download games for PC andSerious Sam was recently re-released in November last year as a HD version. But that game had some serious problems that had to be addressed with patches. Although most of the problems has been addressed by now, I decided in the end to review the original release of the game instead.

Alright, let’s rewind 10 years into the past…

Serious Sam – The First Encounter is the very first game that started it all for comical first person shooters with thousands upon thousands of monsters that throw themselves at you. The developer Croteam (founded in Zagreb, Croatia) was banking on Serious Sam to put themselves back on the radar scope of gamers, and they achieved that success with this game.

Frankly, the Serious Engine did a great job back in 2001, the 3D graphics featured lush and huge expanses. The Egyptian themed buildings and models were all done very nicely and more importantly the game play was absolutely laden with fabulous fun and great game play. I loved the game so much that my fingers even drummed Serious Sam’s game music while I was working during the day.

Serious Sam needs your help

The story of Serious Sam – The First Encounter borders on witty science fiction. It’s the year 2104 and Sam “Serious” Stone has been sent on a world saving mission to prevent Earth’s annihilation from monsters of another dimension. He activates an ancient relic: the “Time-lock”, which catapults him back in time to the time of the Pharoahs in ancient Egypt.

After watching the introduction movie of the single player game and hearing Serious Sam utter the famous lines “Ready for Battle” while the rain pours over the activated relic, you may think everything looks pretty grim and serious… that is until, Serious Sam starts to whistle I’m Singing in the Rain and sees some strange beings run across the top level of the Egyptian temple built by Hatshepsut.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Two handed shooting

The single player game in Serious Sam – The First Encounter will take you through 15 levels of ancient Egypt. You will not only travel through temples, but will also get to see canyons, mountains, tombs, the Valley of the Kings, a beautiful oasis, and even the ancient cities of Memphis and Thebes.

As you can probably tell, there is a good mix of indoor and outdoor levels. You will be impressed by the seamless transition between them, and will definitely appreciate the feeling of run the outdoors before entering a dark tomb to take shelter from the sweltering sun. The architecture all looks believable and are usually emblazoned with hieroglyphics symbols and other icons of Egyptian nature.

Serious Sam comes equiped with 5 difficulty levels – Tourist, Easy, Normal, Hard, and Serious.

Stay Kleer of this skeletal beast

The monsters featured in Serious Sam – The First Encounter is another interesting aspect of the game. They come in all shapes and sizes and are not derivative of other first person shooters released before it.

How often would you see beheaded humans running around holding their heads in their hands? What about seeing the Kleer skeleton that looks like a horribly emaciated bull galloping at you? Or to endure a wave of irritating Marsh-Hoppers from Rigil Kentaurus? And of course, there is also the blue bio-mechanoids that tend to overwhelm you in later levels.

The monsters get bigger and meaner

The weapons in the game are introduced gradually. Often Serious Sam will utter something highly comical when he picks up a new weapon. Take for example, my favorite one-liner – “Take a look at the size of that thing!

You are equipped with the standard military knife for efficient gutting of your enemies, otherwise you can always rely on firearms such as the .45 pistol, the trusted pump action shotgun, the wonderfully powerful rocket launcher, and the ridiculously amusing SBC Cannon that comes equipped with its very own cannonball ammo.

Once you have completed the single player mode, you can continue the game with your friends in two ways – split screen mode or multiplayer. A round of split screen gaming allows for up to 4 player fun, while multiplayer fun can accomodate 16 players on the Internet.

Four player cooperative mode

There are quite a number of multiplayer servers available for play and you can enjoy it in three flavors: Cooperative, Scorematch, and Fragmatch. You are able to select any of the levels available in the game, even the one available as a technology demo, but Scorematch and Fragmatch only has one option installed from the start – the Desert Temple which comes equipped with jump pads.

Serious Multiplayer mayhem

If you dare to take on the task of creating your very own Serious game modification, then you should make sure you read the help file for the Serious Editor and Serious Modeler included in the Serious Software Development Kit.

The Serious Editor requires you master the configuration setup and remember the hotkeys for important shortcuts while the Serious Modeler is only for those who want to import their very own 3D model into the game. You will however need a copy of Lightwave, 3DS Max, or Alias Wavefront before you head down this path.

Wanna be a Serious editor?

I think Serious Sam – The First Encounter is a pretty good light hearted game, especially with our hero mouthing blurbs like “Yeah, it’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye!” However, the game can get quite tiresome rather fast, as it appears to be all a matter of mobs attacking you in pre-scripted patterns. Sure, it gets impressive when about a hundred enemies fill the screen chasing you screaming at the top of their lungs or galloping away trying to bowl you over. But after a while, you will grow tired of it.

Fortunately, there are a couple of large boss encounters for you to beat. A health bar appears which you must quickly whittle down to zero before you get overwhelmed by the boss monster. You should be safe as long as you can aim the gun well and dodge all the smaller enemies trying to get at your throat.

Oooh… seriously cool lens flare effect

If you like a little humor and lots of Egyptian flavor in your game, then I highly recommend Serious Sam – The First Encounter. It’s a fun little romp through a wild roller coaster ride of an adventure in which you seek to save the world by shooting the daylights out of your enemies.

The Verdict


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