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Serious Sam:  The First Encounter (PC) artwork

Serious Sam: The First Encounter (PC) review


"I can honestly say that only a few things have ever actually hurt my brain. One thing that I remember as a brain-hurter was when my friend Chris and I took apart this really old TV and broke a tube inside it that was labeled as dangerous. Suffice to say, I have worn glasses ever since. Another thing that made my brain hurt was Chemistry. Never knew what was going on in there, but after an hour and a half of learning it, my brain felt like it got sucker-punched by Muhammad Ali. The only thing els..."



I can honestly say that only a few things have ever actually hurt my brain. One thing that I remember as a brain-hurter was when my friend Chris and I took apart this really old TV and broke a tube inside it that was labeled as dangerous. Suffice to say, I have worn glasses ever since. Another thing that made my brain hurt was Chemistry. Never knew what was going on in there, but after an hour and a half of learning it, my brain felt like it got sucker-punched by Muhammad Ali. The only thing else that I can think of that hurt my brain was the shooter Serious Sam. Behind all the praise and accolade is a generic, boring shooter that simply canít compete.

OMG DUDE, LEAVE SERIOUS SAM ALONE, ITíS CHEAP SO YOU CANíT COMPLAIN. Yeah, yeah I can as a matter of fact. Serious Sam is Seriously Boring. I remember when it initially came out, magazine after magazine was going ape *beep* over it because it was this random budget game made in Croatia. I ask, whatís the big deal? Sure, itís a foreign country, and sure itís cheap, but itís also one of the most repetitive games Iíve ever had the misfortune of playing through in my entire life.

The entire premise of Serious Sam is ridiculous itself. You play as Serious Sam, who has an obvious desire to emulate Duke Nukem, but he fails horribly at that. The game is set in an ancient Egypt taken over by monsters, and as Sam you must blast your way through about a dozen different levels, killing hordes of enemies, collecting dozens of trinkets, and getting a nice tan in the desert sun.

All sounds good at this point, until you actually start playing it. Iíll be honest; I liked it Ė a lot Ė initially. The levels were huge, and there were tons of things to kill. By the end of about the third level though, I was getting tired of the monotony. The entire gameplay formula boils down to the same thing: destroy a huge swarm of enemies in order to collect some random item/weapon from off the ground. After that, all the exits in the room lock up as swarms of enemies start appearing. Kill every single one of them and the exits reopen, and you may move on into the next area where youíll more than likely do the same thing.

This formula would actually work if there were something Ė anything Ė to break up the action, but there honestly isnít. Puzzles are ludicrously simple, and the run-and-gun gameplay never requires any real strategy outside of occasional jumping to avoid enemy attacks. The only variation in the game comes from the enemies that attack you, and even thatís sparse. By the end of the game, youíll still be killing the same charging beasts, the same plagued frogs, the sameÖeverything. Of course, you also gain access to eight or so different weapons, but even the varied firepower fails to add anything to the title.

Even the level design, which could have been fantastic (imagine exploring the ancient Egyptian world with a little creative licensing thrown in), is boring and bland. There are very few interesting areas, and oftentimes there are no optional areas to explore. Additionally, a few bonus areas are tossed in, but with a game this they felt more like a punishment than a bonus. It would also have helped if nearly every level didnít look the same, but well, they do.

On the multiplayer side of things, Serious Sam offers a couple of things to appease all you masochists out there that decide to play this game. It's got co-op mode, death match, and a plethora of other options. Plus, the game is moddable, though I'm not sure how big the community is on that. I guess that adds a little onto the replay value, because I for one would never play through the game again.

Serious Sam has one thing going for it though, and thatís its graphics. For a game that came out in early 2001, Serious Sam still looks pretty good, even by todayís standards. Sure, itís nothing compared to Painkiller (a much better run-and-gun that I suggest you purchase instead) or FarCry (another better shooter), but it can hold itís own in the graphics arena. Thereís a good draw-distance and very little clipping. Animations are pretty good as well. As for the audio, the music and sound ultimately suck, the enemy noises are all the same and the music is just a junk collaboration that keeps playing over and over. By the fourth level, Iíd turned off the sound completely and opted instead to let my MP3 player run in the background.

In the end, Serious Sam isnít worth your money, no matter how cheap the game may be. I had pretty high hopes for the title, and ultimately, I was let down more than a kid who got socks and underwear for Christmas. If youíre in the market for an FPS game, go pick up Painkiller. Same type of gameplay, much less headaches.

Rating: 4/10

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Community review by asherdeus (June 14, 2004)

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