360 XBLA Review - Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter

17th May 2010 - Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter is a complete remake and overhaul of the 2001 masterpiece. It has some heavily updated graphics and a decent amount of new features, but will this turn out like Perfect Dark and be a great reprisal or turn out to be a hopeful that cant help but flop? Read on to find out…

In Serious Sam HD you are put right into the action as the always-hilarious Serious Sam as he travels back in time to put a stop to the Earth-overpowering Alien invasion before it happens. The story may be something from a bad sci-fi movie or a bad action game from ten years ago, but that’s because it is, but that’s all part of the games charm and has been part of the series since the humble beginnings, which I might add earned it a fair few Game of the Year awards.

Straight up the controls will feel immediately responsive and you will quickly get a hang of the very simple game, and it will essentially stay that way for the duration. There not much to Serious Sam, so its comforting to say it’s a decently casual ‘pick-up-and-play’ game. But only for those casual gamers who actually want a challenge, and one hell of a challenge too. This is where things get weird. The game comes across as an extremely casual shooter that anyone can enjoy, but past the first level and its get tough. Real tough, and every other level after that just gets harder and harder. So to be kind, Serious Sam is a hardcore gamers shooter to the very core and will bug the hell out of and really challenge any and all who try to conquer its mountains of enemies and corridor-based, bullet-spamming action.

Back again, and still as classic as ever is the games trademark humour. Yes it all seems a little similar to the far more popular Duke Nukem, but that is what Sam is all about; being the best by beating the rest. With a lot of the games humour, Sam breaks the fourth wall and cracks jokes about other, similar heroes and even some of the games secret areas have movie sets as if filming Sams escapades. Its all done with crack up voice acting and very tongue-in-cheek style. Needless to say, humour is one of the games highlights, and makes the extremely repetitive action and level set-up that little more inciting to actually playthrough.

Serious Sam HD: TFE may have not changed much in the gameplay department, but the graphics have been given a complete overhaul. The games character models and especially guns have been completely remodelled, but not to an extent that some would expect from a ‘remake’. It looks more like a prettier port of the original rather than a complete remake. Like I said, the guns do look great, but the environment and characters all look like they did back in the Xbox version of Serious Sam. Its really not appealing and exacerbates the already somewhat dull and repetitive gameplay.

With a good script - in this case a hilarious one - comes a good cast. Or so its written. So after the rather depressing quality of the graphics in this one, I’m happy to report that Serious Sam himself is a quite decent voice actor. He cracks his funny one liners and witty remarks with great satire and voice talent, but that’s not all - Serious Sams many different shapes and forms of enemies also have a good amount of quality in their mixed sounds and remarks that sets the stage for pure chaos when (and you can be assured they will) come at you in great numbers. One notable example is the completely random headless suicide bombers that, while defying all logic, scream mercilessly as they sprint towards you before detonation. Its between Sam’s commonly rude comments, the unforgiving sounds of the odd attacking aliens from another world and the all round quality of the whole sound package which make the sound part of things a great achievement in this game.


Given that Serious Sam HD: TFE hasn’t much in the way of gameplay diversity whatsoever, its kind of required to make itself a half-decent effort that it at least gives you a few different modes to play over when you tire of one another. But with that in mind, you cant help but feel ripped off when the only new feature you’ll find in this game is a thoughtless co-op mode that doesn’t cater up to the cheap thrills of being overwhelmed in smalls spaces like Single Player does. A fair few hours (if you can actually play very much without getting bored) max to rid the campaign of baddies and save the world once again, and then you’ve got nothing, so its kind of hard to say its worth the value of the 1200 Microsoft Point asking price.

Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter is just what you would expect having played any of the other SS games; mindless violence, cheesy one liners and one hell of a lot of repetition. Thing is, Serious Sam doesn’t try to hide those facts, and that’s why it caters to only a select audience. If you want hours of mindless fun and a lack of any kind of intriguing story line, then Serious Sam HD is your safe bet. But a word of advice to all you newcomers; try the demo first, because the real game is just that over and over.


AAG SCORE: 6.6/10

+ Enjoyable sense of humour
+ Mindless violence is always a nice change of pace
+ Sound quality is superb

- For ‘HD’, the graphics aren’t anything special
- Highly repetitive level structure and gameplay
- No decent new features to be seen


Reviewed and Written By John Elliott