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Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter Review

Developer: Croteam | Publisher: Devolver Digital
Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 04/28/10 | Genre: FPS

Shooter fans may look back fondly on the adventures of Sam "Serious" Stone. Sure he was more than just a bit of a Duke Nukem knock off, but the games had their own charm. Players were pitted against massive hordes of foes at any given time and survival did not come easily. Sam would shout one-liners that would make the Duke proud as his handy shotgun tore through the enemy onslaughts. Now, nearly eight years later, Serious Sam is back with an HD remake that includes new enemies and new challenges. The question is; are the new additions enough to warrant another visit?

Well, the price is certainly fair. At just $20, Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter offers plenty of bang for your buck. The revamped single player campaign will take you on a journey that begins in the jungles of South America and whisks you off to Mesopotamia before a visit to a medieval village. Along the way you'll see plenty of familiar faces, but also a few new ones including a giant, chainsaw-wielding maniac with a jack-o-lantern for a head. You will also notice that Sam has a few new toys. Classic weapons such as the shotgun and rocket launcher are back, but now you are also treated to a Flame Thrower, Sniper Rifle and a Chainsaw ala Doom. You will definitely appreciate the upgraded arsenal when you find yourself squaring off against hundreds of enemies at once - seriously.

The gameplay is about as basic as it gets: shoot anything that even thinks about moving. You pretty much just make your way through each area, killing enemies all the while and solve the occasional puzzle. Frequently you will find yourself facing ridiculous amounts of enemies at once and usually you can tell when such a battle is about to take place. If you suddenly come across a wide open field with no enemies in sight, you'd better get prepared because you are in for one heck of an ambush. That's not to say the game only throws large amounts of enemies at you in wide open spaces; it has no qualms about trapping you in a small room or corridor with an unreasonable amount of enemies either, though these instances are a bit tougher to see coming than the former.

As the name implies; this remake comes with a visual overhaul and actually looks pretty good. The mileage you get out of the graphics will depend on your rig obviously, but the higher resolution textures and improved effects go a long way in bringing the game up to date. The sounds in the game are also good for the most part. The effects, monsters and music are all decent even if they do become rather repetitive by the time it's all said and done.

From a technical standpoint, the game is pretty solid. I didn't encounter many bugs along the way, though there was one time where Sam got blown into a small area behind a structure from which there was no escape. However, I can't say the game is without its share of faults. The nonstop fighting and hordes of enemies is exciting at first, but the novelty wears off pretty quickly and it becomes more of a chore than anything else. The game isn't exactly long, but it is long enough that the formula gets old well before the end. Another problem I had with the game was the often-frustrating difficulty. Perhaps some gamers out there will relish the challenge, but I found myself wishing I had the option to lower the difficulty mid-game more than once. The massive battles can also be too much at times. There were plenty of instances where I felt like I was simply along for the ride, running and shooting blindly with little actual control and no clue as to what was going on.

While I didn't think the game was particularly great, with a $20 price tag, I'm sure there are plenty of action/shooter junkies that will love this game. In addition to the single player campaign, Serious Same HD: The Second Encounter also crams in a good bit of multiplayer modes. You can play cooperatively with a friend or jump into versus mode for some PvP carnage. You will find more than just the typical death match mode as the developers have included objective based games such as Capture the Flag and My Burden mode which is similar to Halo's Oddball. For the money, you're actually getting a good deal of gaming, but ultimately you'd probably be better off putting that money towards something else.

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Well, the price is certainly fair. At just $20, Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter offers plenty of bang for your buck. The revamped single player campaign will take you on a journey that begins in the jungles of South America and whisks you off to Mesopotamia before a visit to a medieval village. Along the way you'll see plenty of familiar faces, but also a few new ones including a giant, chainsaw-wielding maniac with a jack-o-lantern for a head. You will also notice that Sam has a few new toys. Classic weapons such as the shotgun and rocket launcher are back, but now you are also treated to a Flame Thrower, Sniper Rifle and a Chainsaw ala Doom. You will definitely appreciate the upgraded arsenal when you find yourself squaring off against hundreds of enemies at once - seriously.

The gameplay is about as basic as it gets: shoot anything that even thinks about moving. You pretty much just make your way through each area, killing enemies all the while and solve the occasional puzzle. Frequently you will find yourself facing ridiculous amounts of enemies at once and usually you can tell when such a battle is about to take place. If you suddenly come across a wide open field with no enemies in sight, you'd better get prepared because you are in for one heck of an ambush. That's not to say the game only throws large amounts of enemies at you in wide open spaces; it has no qualms about trapping you in a small room or corridor with an unreasonable amount of enemies either, though these instances are a bit tougher to see coming than the former.

As the name implies; this remake comes with a visual overhaul and actually looks pretty good. The mileage you get out of the graphics will depend on your rig obviously, but the higher resolution textures and improved effects go a long way in bringing the game up to date. The sounds in the game are also good for the most part. The effects, monsters and music are all decent even if they do become rather repetitive by the time it's all said and done.

From a technical standpoint, the game is pretty solid. I didn't encounter many bugs along the way, though there was one time where Sam got blown into a small area behind a structure from which there was no escape. However, I can't say the game is without its share of faults. The nonstop fighting and hordes of enemies is exciting at first, but the novelty wears off pretty quickly and it becomes more of a chore than anything else. The game isn't exactly long, but it is long enough that the formula gets old well before the end. Another problem I had with the game was the often-frustrating difficulty. Perhaps some gamers out there will relish the challenge, but I found myself wishing I had the option to lower the difficulty mid-game more than once. The massive battles can also be too much at times. There were plenty of instances where I felt like I was simply along for the ride, running and shooting blindly with little actual control and no clue as to what was going on.

While I didn't think the game was particularly great, with a $20 price tag, I'm sure there are plenty of action/shooter junkies that will love this game. In addition to the single player campaign, Serious Same HD: The Second Encounter also crams in a good bit of multiplayer modes. You can play cooperatively with a friend or jump into versus mode for some PvP carnage. You will find more than just the typical death match mode as the developers have included objective based games such as Capture the Flag and My Burden mode which is similar to Halo's Oddball. For the money, you're actually getting a good deal of gaming, but ultimately you'd probably be better off putting that money towards something else.

By Ryan Schaefer - 05/07/10
ESRB Details: This is a first-person shooter in which players battle demons and monsters in frenetic combat. Players move through levels and kill creatures by using guns, knives, missiles, flamethrowers, and chainsaws. When some enemies are attacked with chainsaw blades, they explode into blocky chunks of flesh. Blood splashes occur when creatures are shot, and they frequently splatter on the ground. Creatures may also explode into blocky chunks of flesh.
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