Not really that serious.
Serious Sam HD, developed by Croteam, is a first-person shooter that originally came to the PC in 2001. The game has now been spruced up and made to look great and is available in its HD form on the PC and Xbox360, through XBLA.
In what is largely a pointless story, our hero, Sam, is charged with saving the world from the wildest collection of meanies you will ever see in a game, all against an Egyptian style backdrop. With, perhaps, not the deepest or most original of stories, Serious Sam HD puts the emphasis back onto the simple, entertaining gameplay.
Croteam have made an effort to bring Sam into the HD period, and the game looks great. In comparison to the original, SSHD is much brighter and much more detailed. But this is where the changes finish. Other than the quality of the graphics, nothing else has changed.
The settings have remained the same, which mostly consist of Egyptian style temples and lots of sand. The audio has not been altered, with Sam’s cheesy one-liners thankfully still intact. There are no new levels, enemies or weapons. Whilst any of theses would have been nice for the fans, the game still remains seriously entertaining.
Gameplay has translated well onto the console, although placing the jump button on the left trigger is certainly an interesting move. The aiming works well, and the variety of different weapons, from the mundane to the downright bizarre, all feel good to use. The levels are fairly simple to navigate and lack any complicated puzzles that would require thought.
Serious Sam HD is not a deep game, as I have already mentioned. But don’t get to thinking that it is an easy game. That would be a mistake. There are dozens of enemies in the game, and they all want Sams blood. They are not the brightest of beasties, thanks to a lacking AI, but what they lack in intelligence, they make up for with sheer tenacity. They come at you from all different directions, sometimes even warping into existence right behind you, and generally in a horde. So many enemies and so few bullets. There are a choice of difficulty levels, but even the normal mode will stretch the casual fps player.
As an example, let me just describe an early part of the game for you. It is early on, so hopefully I won’t spoil anyone’s enjoyment. You are walking down the steps of an Egyptian style temple. To the left and right are stone cliffs, ahead is a sand dune and you can see nothing beyond the crest. That is obviously the only way to go, so you start the trek up the dune. then you hear it, in the distance at first, but getting closer.”Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”. The sound gets closer and closer until, over the crest of the dune you see a figure, running towards you. A shirtless humanoid with a saw blade where his head should be and round, ball shaped hands, held aloft. One of two things will happen now. If you have not played the game before, you may wait for the humanoid to get close, at which point he will explode and do you serious amounts of damage. Those who have played before will know to take him down froma distance. Sam will tehn utter a cheesy one-liner. But there are more noises coming from over the dune. Five more of these bomb handed guys appear, then another five, and another…
By this point I had retreated to the relative safety of the temple, where I could force these bomb handed freaks in through the doorway, and pick them off with ease. I am not sure how many there were, maybe twenty, maybe twenty-five. Either way, they are damn nasty little blighters, and could have killed me quite easily. This is relatively early on in the game, and it is only gonna get more difficult.
Yes, you will probably die a lot, and yes you will get frustrated. But this kind of mindless shooter is sorely lacking in todays over complicated, puzzle solving, stealth ‘em up games. The sheer simplistic joy of having loads of enemies running towards you, with no thought for their own safety, and a gun in your hand, is not to be underestimated.
The game includes a four player co-op mode across XBL, which is a shame as the PC version got a full 16 player mode. But maybe that will be fixed in the future. Either way, the four player co-op is a lot of fun and certainly adds to the re-playability.
Maybe it is because I am a fan of the original, but I find Serious Sam HD to be thoroughly entertaining. It is silly, and will probably be frowned upon by the more serious gamers out there, but I just don’t care. Serious Sam HD is like ditching the suit and going to work in Bermuda shorts, a colourful t-shirt and sunglasses and calling your boss “dude”. You know that it is not “the proper thing to do”, but that doesn’t stop it from being fun.