Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter Review
Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter box art
System: X360 (XBLA) Review Rating Legend
Dev: Croteam 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Croteam 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Jan. 13, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 (Co-Op) 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

The blood splatter is pleasantly excessive, and levels quickly morph into a macabre canvas of missing limbs and gore spray, since you'll literally battle throngs of the same selection of re-skinned evil beasts over and over again. That said, monster A.I. is a big disappointment. Most enemies either take pot shots at you from a distance or simply charge straight at you from whatever dimensional hole they've just spawned from. There's little exception, which makes the action feel like a lame grind.

Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter screenshot

It's also a shame the game takes as many cheap shots at you as possible. You're often swarmed with large waves of many different kinds of foes at once, and it's tough to avoid getting bowled over by the bum rush at times. Enemies also tend to spawn out of nowhere whenever you pick up certain basic items like armor or bullets, which will inevitably make you leery about grabbing important things like ammo and health. Beasts also tend to suddenly appear behind you, above you, and at other odd angles that are hard to predict or recover from. There are plenty of times where you'll wind up entering a room only to find the door immediately shut and locked behind you, leaving you staring at a charging mass of quick death to try to avoid.

Despite all the annoyances, there are a few smart design ideas that just feel right. The gameplay is fast and loose, so things progress fairly quickly. A nice auto-aim feature makes it easier to land your shots on intended victims without feeling like it's holding your hand too tightly. A single-button quick save is literally a life saver. Death comes fast and frequently, so it's awesome to be able to speedily bookmark your progress right before you know you're likely about to get violently dismembered. It saves you a lot of time having to repeat levels from the beginning.

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Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter does get entertaining once you get over the initial shock of how antiquated the whole experience feels, but running around shooting stuff in the most primitive of senses isn't going to be enough to keep most first-person enthusiast engaged for very long. Then there's another possible deal breaker. Instead of a much-needed deathmatch mode, there's only four player co-op. We're still scratching our heads over that one. Unless you're a hardcore Serious Sam fan, we can't recommend this remake.

By Nathan Meunier
CCC Staff Contributor

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.5
Graphics
The HD upgrades are a big improvement, though the whole game isn't really that good looking in general.
4.0
Control
The auto-aim assist and insta-save features are excellent. Controls-wise, the game feels fast and responsive.
3.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Sam's limited dialogue is pretty lame and the other audio isn't particularly inspiring.
2.0
Play Value
No deathmatch? What? Super old gameplay tenets and painful repetitiousness reign supreme here, which is what ultimately tanks the fun.
3.0
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Serious Engine 3 - Beautifully rendered, high-resolution visuals and lushly redesigned environments to create the most astonishing Serious Sam game ever.
  • Frantic Non-Stop Action - From the charging Sirian Were-bull to the screaming Headless Kamikaze and the multi-story Ugh-Zan, all of the infamous minions of Mental have been spectacularly redesigned for Serious Sam HD.
  • Great Arsenal - Wield demon-stopping revolvers, lead-spewing miniguns, and monstrous cannons for when you absolutely, positively, have to kill every enemy in sight.
  • Over 14 Levels of Bedlam - Set against the expansive backdrop of ancient Egypt with every square inch upgraded and reworked to create one of the most visually stunning game experiences.
  • Co-Op Mode - For up to four players.


  • Screenshots / Images
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