6 Reviews

Serious Sam: The First Encounter HD

Plot, levels, puzzles? Nope. Just a serious amount of shooting

Circle-strafing isn't a recognised tactic in real military confrontations. In fact, given the limitation of knees, it's not physically possible to scissor your lower body at the sort of speeds required to sprint sideways without tripping.

Dubious, too, is the strategy of leaping out of the way of a skeletal horse as it pounces at your face with its scimitar-like horse-claws.

There comes a point when playing Serious Sam HD that you pause and think that maybe it's not very serious at all. It's a shooter in the purest sense of the word, a game in which you spend most of your time strafing and firing into a relentless throng of swarming, howling, single-minded enemies. There's a plot, but it's so flagrantly unoriginal as to be utterly unnoticeable. There are levels, but their inclusion seems a grudging conceit on the developers' part - a collection of exotic-looking bricks and chasms designed to stop you running off into the distance. There are puzzles of the calibre mice grapple with in laboratories, pushing buttons to release doors and reveal keys.


You can't be serious
Approach Serious Sam HD expecting anything more complex than that and you'll wonder where the rest of your game's toddled off to. It's appealing in its simplicity, though; a high-def remake of a game that, even a decade ago, felt like a study in how many limbs you could hack off a genre while keeping it alive - bereft of higher brain function but still conscious.

Enemies include crowds of headless men with bombs for hands whose presence is brought to your attention by their terrifying kamikaze screams, scorpion men with gatling guns for forearms, and a whole series of one-eyed monstrosities. Repetition is allayed only slightly by the mixing up of this cast, the drip feed of new guns and the inclusion of some swaggering boss characters.

Serious Sam HD has just one, explosive, bloody, wildly spinning gear - one unlikely to arrest your interests for long. Co-op will be enough to propel you to the finale (a lack of split-screen disappoints), but endearing though the whimsical crowd-slaughter may be, you won't shake the sense that you could be strafing your way through something better.

The verdict

Guns, bullets, shooting and not much else

  • Satisfying carnage
  • Retro, in a good way
  • HD, but still ugly
  • Enemies aren't very clever
  • Split our screens, please
Live Arcade
First Person Shooter