While I normally take a look at overlooked shooters here on First Person Saturday, sometimes it is fun to take a look at a classic. One of my favorite well known shooters is Serious Sam: The First Encounter, a FPS which focuses on special operatives soldier Sam 'Serious' Stone going back in time to fight aliens. The plot may be simple, but its simply the gateway to all the goodness that lies inside Serious Sam: The First Encounter.
Instead of focusing on a tiny group of enemies along large levels, Serious Sam: The First Encounter will often throw you into large areas filled with hordes of enemies to take on. While this is fun, it can get annoying at times. Sometimes the game will just spam Headless Kamikaze soldiers, which will do nothing but annoy you as you swivel in every direction to shoot them before they can get to you, all while you take damage from Kleers or the hitscanning scorpion men with machine guns known as Arachnoids.
Speaking of the Headless Kamikazes, I don't think there's a single video game enemy that's quite as annoying and endearing at the same time. They'll charge at you with fearsome shouts, and just the sight of one can make even the most seasoned Serious Sam players panic. While other enemies like the Kleers will give you trouble, none of them stick out quite like these beheaded troops.
Serious Sam: The First Encounter has a nice variety of weapons, each of which having different uses depending on the situation. Personal favorites include the room-clearing Tommy Gun, the quad-barreled rocket launcher, and the ultra powerful SBC cannon. However, some weapons such as the knife or the revolvers will see little use once you get your hands on some heavier firepower.
Unlike games such as Doom or Duke Nukem 3D, which had a variety of level themes, every level in Serious Sam: The First Encounter is in Egypt, from the great pyramids to endless dunes. I admit, it's a pleasant surprise to see how many unique locations could be squeezed out of an Egyptian theme.
While the original game looks great, Serious Sam: The First Encounter HD is drop-dead gorgeous, especially when it comes to water and blood. Enemies will explode into showers of gore, satisfyingly covering the landscape, while water is truly reflective and wonderful to look at.
When it comes to sound, the game only has a few stand out tracks, but most of the audio is focused on Sam Stone himself. John. J. Dick voices Sam, and he manages to nail every line to sound both unbelievably awesome, yet comical at the same time. I truly wouldn't mind seeing more of him in other games in the future.
So, is Serious Sam: The First Encounter HD worth your time? Without a doubt. Blasting through hordes of enemies is a real treat, and every moment you're not blowing up headless soldiers with rocket launchers, you're speeding down a hallway to do it again. With enough weapon, enemy, and level types to keep everything interesting, Serious Sam: The First Encounter HD is worth every penny of the fifteen dollar asking price.