Discussion The Patient Gamer - Serious Sam The First Encounter (HD) - Seriously Samey

GodisanAtheist

Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2006
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Serious Sam starts with a semi-coherent seed of an idea. What if, in the aftermath of Half-Life completely uprooting the FPS landscape with its narrative driven FPS gameplay, we just throw out any sort of coherent narrative and go right down to the core of FPS gaming. Straight back to heart of the FPS genre in the form of DOOM: some dude shooting hordes of monsters with big guns that's it that's the game. Cross pollinate with a Duke Nukem wannabe main character and there you have it.

It loses the thread from there.

For anyone not familiar with video games at all Serious Sam is a first person shooter that gained fame by essentially having one very good trick and leaning on it till it bends, breaks, vaporizes, atomizes, inverts on itself, rips a hole in the fabric of space time, and destroys reality. That trick is locking you in a room and throwing waves and waves of enemies straight from someone's heroin fueled fever dreams at you until you either die or kill them all, then move on to another room where you do the same thing over again and again for the next 10 hours.

Initially its actually a lot of fun. Its sort of reminiscent (in a weird way, considering it was released 15 years later) of Doom 2016. Virtually 0 hitscan weapons, nearly all enemy projectiles can be shot down mid flight or side-stepped, hordes of enemies in arena boxes that require you to dodge, duck, dip, dive, dodge while you hold down your left mouse button mowing down everything in your path with a relentless fury.

The problems really start to show up an hour or two into the game. You see a floating health vial or armor plate? A tidal wave of enemies is going to spawn in as soon as you pick it up. You know because that's what happened the last 100 times you picked anything up. You see a large empty room? Time to quick save. You know why? Because a tidal wave of enemies is going to spawn in as soon as you walk in. A plot? What plot. Enemies with any sort of coherent design language between them? No. Remotely interesting level design? LOL NO ITS ALL BOXES CONNECTED BY HALLWAYS AND DOORS. Literally. Its a one trick pony in the worst kind of way.

It actually made me really appreciate all the "tacked on" progression and leveling up stuff you get in modern games (including Doom 2016) to give each combat encounter a progressively different feel and provide the player with new tactics to use to keep the gameplay loop from getting stale.

How do you survive in Serious Sam? Here is one tip that Mental does not want you to know: Circle Strafe. Just keep doing that forever and always, and you got all the movement dynamics figured out.

I do have to give Serious Sam credit where it is due: the game is fair. By that I mean it really is a skill based shooter. I could walk into a room with 5 health after a bad autosave, and after dying two or three times walk out of that room with 50 health somehow because I just "got gud" through repeated attempts, trial and error, and reevaluating my attack run, understanding where the powerups are located. Its sort of Dark Soulsey in that way, again way before Dark Souls. It just got tedious for me after a while.

The whole game is also set in ancient Egypt for some contrived reason. Its kinda cool cause its a location you don't really see all that often, but its also the only location outside of a secret level or two.

Its honestly hard to believe this same studio went on to make the fantastic, in depth, thoughtful, pseudo philosophical Talos Principal which is really almost an anti-Serious Sam.

All said and done, I'm glad I played it. I felt like I got to experience and appreciate a bit of the cult surrounding Serious Sam and while it wasn't always my cup of tea I could clearly see the appeal of the game. I will be playing Serious Sam The Second Encounter further down the line to see if Croteam figured out how to make a game beyond "move and shoot stuff". Honestly, so long as its reasonably short, I'll probably enjoy it well enough too.

If you're an FPS adrenaline junkie and want pure distilled boomer shooter with no concern for plot, aesthetics, coherency, level design, or anything else that makes a modern game palatable then have at it.
 
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SAAA

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May 14, 2014
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I think the Second Encounter is indeed a cut above with regard to maps variations, still very much
tunnels/rooms but at least you are going to have different settings than just Egypt, plus some pretty weird platformer or physics defying segments here and there.

There's plenty of secrets and some humor, just remember this is a game that doesn't take itself too seriously (as the devs clearly hinted mile away) unlike the "serious" in the name.
 

GodisanAtheist

Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2006
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I think the Second Encounter is indeed a cut above with regard to maps variations, still very much
tunnels/rooms but at least you are going to have different settings than just Egypt, plus some pretty weird platformer or physics defying segments here and there.

There's plenty of secrets and some humor, just remember this is a game that doesn't take itself too seriously (as the devs clearly hinted mile away) unlike the "serious" in the name.
-Good to know! I've read that Serious Sam was intended to be an engine demo with the veneer of a game slapped on top, while SS2 was built from the ground up to be a game.
 

GrumpyMan

Diamond Member
May 14, 2001
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When all of those evil things start attacking you, you need to find a choke point where they all come together somewhat and let the bullets and bombs fly baby!
 

GodisanAtheist

Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2006
3,926
2,465
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When all of those evil things start attacking you, you need to find a choke point where they all come together somewhat and let the bullets and bombs fly baby!
- There are 0 chokepoints in this game. Only massive open box like rooms where you have to move or die.

all i can remember is the screaming guys.
warning: ear rape
- Yes, the panic that sets in as you hear "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaHHHHHH" but cannot locate the source of the suicide bomber dudes is real.
 
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