sdoots's Serious Sam: The First Encounter HD (PC) review

A solid product that feels unfinished.

Let's get the basics out of the way right now. This is not a complicated game. If you are capable of moving your character and firing a weapon at the same time, you can enjoy Serious Sam. That's not a slam on the game, if anything it's praise. It's refreshing to go back to straight shoot em up gameplay after so long. The game breaks down to going into an area, shooting all the bad guys, moving to the next area, and shooting those bad guys, and repeating that cycle until the level ends. As much as I adore this series, it really is a fancy shooting gallery. As such, quite a few gamers will probably want to seek their shooting fun elsewhere. 
Serious Sam HD is a remake of Serious Sam: The First Encounter, and it's a damn good one. I played through the original before playing this, and it's amazing how well they did recreating everything. Even the old-school loading screen of a simple green bar on a black background remains. All of the objects, environments, enemies, and weapons are beautiful in their updated appearance, and on my merely adequate rig I experienced absolutely no slow down, regardless of how many enemies were on screen.  
The controls are standard FPS fare, minus a reload key, which isn't an issue for the most part, but it's odd considering the original let you reload your revolver at any time (None of the other weapons require reloading), and as someone who does a lot of long range shooting with them early on, it was a bit of a pain to start shooting and suddenly have to sit through the reload animation. Other than that, there really is nothing to mention here. If you've played any FPS on a PC, you've used these controls before. 
My only problems with the game are that it feels like they forgot some of the content. What's here is great, and will satisfy anyones trigger finger, but the multiplayer options are limited to a rather poorly done co-op, and while it is exhilirating taking on the entire campaign with up to 16 players, there are no dedicated servers, meaning your enjoyment depends entirely on how good the hosts internet is. Add to that what seems like poor netcode, and it makes co-op more trouble than it's worth. On my 1.5 MB/s connection, with only one other player in the game with me, the average ping was about 250. 
Adding on to that, there is no competitive multiplayer. You're limited to either playing the campaign alone, or with some other people. That's it. As fun as the campaign is, this series has always felt like it could have some great deathmatch, and it feels like a big missed opportunity. In the end, Serious Sam HD is a good game. It's just that with gameplay so simple, and some lackluster features, only existing Sam fans will have any real incentive to pick this up.

10 Comments Refresh
Posted by MysteriousBob

There's plenty of other games for competitive multiplayer. Did anyone even touch deathmatch in the original? You seem to be exaggerating the importance of multiplayer- this is a single player game at heart. I'll still be getting this on XBLA when its released.

Posted by Jeff

You can map a button to reload, if you like. I've been using mouse 4, but yeah, since you so rarely use the revolvers, it's not of much use.

Posted by emkeighcameron

Nice review. 
I agree that it's a pretty damn good remake of SS1. I just wonder why the hell the game NEEDED remaking. And it sucks that they didn't do the multiplayer that well, that's a huge part of what made SS so awesome the first time around.

Posted by Deusoma

This review is straightforward and to-the-point, just like the game. Maybe I'll check it out when it comes to consoles.

Posted by JP_Russell

As Jeff said, there is a reload button, though I would say you're better off just scrolling to the next weapon and scrolling back again on the mouse wheel, as that automatically reloads the revolvers and is faster than the actual reload animation. 
Also, Croteam is allegedly planning to implement both dedicated servers and the original game's deathmatch mode in a future patch, so I would hope that you update your review if that happens.  ;)
Posted by Ping5000

I never cared for Serious Sam's competitive multiplayer, so its omission doesn't really affect my general sentiment. Having an awesome time with the game and while the co-op is janky due to the lack of dedicated servers, its still an awesome, numbing game when playing solo.

Posted by Xaus

I was a big fan of the original when it came out. I'll definitely be picking this one up but, uh, not at $20. I'll wait until it's around $10 or so.

Posted by Desmora

What difficulty did you play through? Just curious,  half the fun of the game seems to be figuring out how to tackle a certain set of mobs that spawn and making sure that you are doing that and not making mistakes and getting killed. I can see the 'Kill Baddies, next room kill baddies' etc.. if you're playing on one of the lower difficulties where it's I suppose 'not as punishing' to where you can ignore certain mob traits and abilities. The environments vary enough to create something good visually to look at and to change up your play style on how to handle what they throw at you. I.E. passageways, corridors, outdoors, mountains open fields, etc... all require you to approach mobs that are the same in a different fashion.

Posted by BravesToaster

To be honest, I only played the first game for the single player anyway, so I may just pick this up

Posted by Rokin

Deathmatch multiplayer is implemented now, and I think dedicated servers are as well. Still there isn't many of them, so it still kinda sucks.
Great review, btw

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