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You CANNOT Be Serious
Serious Sam - The First Encounter (PC)
Member Name: rob_writer
Serious Sam - The First Encounter (PC)
Date: 02/05/01, updated on 02/05/01 (87 review reads)
Advantages: Fun fun fun
Disadvantages: Not exactly complex
Back in the day first person shooters were just that, a shooting game viewed from a first person perspective. Looking at today’s games we see a much more complex bunch of wannabes. Games like Deus Ex and Project IGI have moved the genre on miles, and games like Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament having taken the single player frag fest to its limits. Surprisingly then, Croteam (the Croatian developers of the game) have taken more than one step backwards and released Serious Sam, an unashamed frag fest from start to finish.
I was about to make my usual comparisons with Quake or even Doom, but in this case I can't. Serious Sam is, put simply, more simple than Doom. Doom had things such as key cards which you had to use to open doors, but Serious Sam consists of little more than walking along a linear path and shooting things. But if you're waiting for me to slate the game then don't, it may be simple and very old school.......but it is FUN FUN FUN!!
The single player mode is the main stay of the game and where most of the fun is to be had. The plot behind the game is your typical 'aliens invade the Earth and only you can save them' fiasco, with some time travelling thrown in for fun. You start outside a large pyramid in Egypt, and start on your long quest against the aliens. The plot is just an excuse for the carnage, something which is never far away in this game as generally, it consists of you, a gun and lots and lots of monsters!!
There is only ever one route through the levels and they consist of one wave of monsters after another. Unlike other games, however, you don't just face one or two monsters at a time. To say that you face hundreds of monsters at once is not a massive overstatement, although a few tens of monsters is probably closer to the mark. It's quite an experience too, as you can be standing in the middle of a courtyard when hoards of enemies come at you from all directions. They don't pre
tend to be clever, they just head straight for you, but what is good is the range of enemy on offer. There are the normal bog standard guys who soot at you, but there are many other enemies all with their own quirky characters. The Sirian Werebull is a dinosaur sized creature that charges straight for you with its head, while a Beheaded Kamikaze is a headless suicide bomber who explodes on contact with you. The varied selection of enemy does make the game exciting all the time, as there are often new enemies to deal with and the different combinations can make certain situations challenging.
Weapons wise the game takes the standard route with all the usuals on offer, from pistols to shotguns and miniguns, with a few more explosive weapons making an appearance too.
The biggest problem is that you are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of bad guys coming you're way, often from every direction meaning that you have to be very aware of what’s behind you (i.e. turn around!!) or else you could find yourself in trouble from the rear.
Fortunately there is a quick save button for those frantic moments, although sometimes you can be hitting the quick save key as much as the fire button!!
You could of course play on a lower skill lever, but to be honest this defies the point of the game. Without as many enemies to face the game becomes a walk in the park, and to be honest if you're any good at these type of games it won't take you more than a few days to plough through anyway.
For the beginners there is a training mode which eases you in to the game gently, but even this sets the tone of the game to come. I died no less than 3 times before I got to the end of the training level.
Normally this would be the section of the review where I comment on the graphics being good because the game uses the Unreal*/Unreal Tournament*/Quake 3*/Half Life* engine (* delete as appropriate). And yes, the graphics are
good, but unlike the vast majority of developers Croteam have made their own 3D engine for the game, and very impressive it is too. It looks just as good as any of the other engines, and can handle big open environments much better than Quake 3, or even Unreal Tournament for that matter. Given the fact that there can often be lots of enemies on screen the game holds up well. It makes a good change!
Spec wise you are looking at a minimum of a P2-300, 64Mb RAM and an 8Mb graphics card. My system is a P3-650, 64Mb RAM with a 32Mb TNT2 and plays the game fine in high detail except on the odd levels where fog is used as it just eats away at the frame rate. There are so many options for graphics though that whatever your system (within reason) you should be able to sacrifice some detail for extra speed.
The game even contains a 'Technology Test' which shows off all the features that the engine can muster, from fog to transparency and every kind of texturing and shading you can imagine!!
There are also several other game modes for you to choose from. These are multiplayer split screen, LAN and internet. There is also a mods and add ons section, so there may be hope of mods being made in the future. The single player section is by far and away the largest portion of the game, but I'll go over the other features as well.
The LAN or Internet games offer the standard deathmatch style games, although with Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament being so well established I doubt this can make much of an impression if I am honest. However, there is also one more feature of the game, co-operative mode. This is where you and a friend take on the single player game together and given the frantic nature of the game it works very well. It won't hold your attention forever but it is fun for a while.
Also featured is a split screen game where up to 4 (yes 4!!) players can play on one PC in teeny weeny boxes. The graphics and frame rat
e hold up well, although you will have to drop the detail level a little. The biggest problem I found was trying to find a way of getting four people to sit round a PC with some suitable form of control device. These games work best with the keys and at a real push you could maybe fit two people on the keyboard, although one is more realistic. That means you need a lot of joypads or joysticks each with enough buttons to assign all the commands to. Even my Sidewinder struggle and my poor 2 button joystick was woefully inadequate. Still, it's a nice feature and one we should be seeing more of. You can play either deathmatch or co-operative mode in split screen.
Price wise the game only costs £20 so isn't going to break the bank, and boy is it fun while it lasts.