Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter Review

April 22, 2010

The HD remix editions of the first two Serious Sam games have received the same kind of treatment that Half Life: Source did back in 2004. Rather than completely remaking the game from the ground up, those Croatian maniacs have just slapped some new skins on the enemies, sharpened the textures and made the water look prettier. What I wanted from both Croteam and Valve respectively was a Black Mesa Source-style total rebuild, but the official developers can’t deliver this, presumably because they’re trying to run a business and not service the needs of fans, which is reasonable if they want to eat and pay the bills, I suppose.

The level design of Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter still centres around lots of big square arenas of death with locked doors in between, and it turns out that once more the keys to said doors are fashioned from the shredded corpses of your enemies. Or their tallied souls, or something. That bit isn’t really explained. Sometimes there are buttons as well. The shapes of these arenas are not always completely uniform, and the landscapes have a bit more variety, with houses/buildings dotted about, and enemies actually stacked on different levels other than straight in front of you, so you do have to point the gun upwards from time to time. But otherwise it’s business as usual, which is an observation rather than a direct criticism.

I played through and loved the original Serious Sam games years ago, and actually the remakes are still just as fun, but completely and utterly the same. Sure, you get a few new online modes, but who wants to play an online game that doesn’t at least feature some kind of levelling system?* Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter is just as archaic and clunky as the original games and the first remake**, and in my opinion it is a little overpriced, since you would be no worse off if you bought the 2001 version, which I was playing in ‘HD’ on a P4 machine with an AGP Radeon 9000 on a 17 inch monitor at 1280×1024 without feeling like I was missing out. Having said that, people who have yet to play any Serious Sam titles will probably get at least £15 worth of entertainment from the remakes, and it’s better than Painkiller because there is less of a sense that the stupid story has the intention of investing the gamer’s interest rather than teasing giggles or cutscene skipping from them.

*Modern Warfare has a lot to answer for. And several days of my life to give back. I also don’t agree with the idea that multiplayer needs levelling now, I just said it to be a bloody nuisance.
**Text boxes are not the friend of a modern game designer.


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