Serious Sam HD Review

Written by Joe Martin

November 27, 2009 | 08:46

Tags: #duke-nukem #first-encounter #high-def #old-school #serious-sam #serious-sam-3

Companies: #croteam

Serious Business!

Unfortunately, for all the high-speed, full-fury fun to be had in Croteam’s remake of the first Serious Sam, Serious Sam HD still has one incredibly basic weakpoint.

Namely, that it is a remake and, as we stated previously, it’s nothing more than that.

There’s simply no new content in Serious Sam HD at all. There’s no extra mini-campaign, no new secret levels or weapons. Serious Sam HD hasn’t even been updated to include features from The Second Encounter, such as the power-ups for particularly tough arenas.

The game isn’t expensive, but the fact that there’s absolutely nothing new here means that existing SS owners are likely not to be swayed into buying the new version. Equally, newcomers to the series can pick up the original game very cheaply now and don’t lose a lot by doing so. It’s aged very gracefully, remember?

Serious Sam HD Review Serious Business!
The bigger they are...

It really is a mystery why new content hasn’t been added in, as there are some obvious gaps in the functions that have been carried over from the original Serious Sam to the new high-def remake. There’s still no multiplayer, for example – and because Serious Sam HD uses a new engine there’s likely to be little mod support for a while too. On that front the original game is actually a better investment as there’s plenty of Serious Sam mods out there to try. SS HD doesn’t have any.

It really is hugely disappointing that Serious Sam HD doesn’t include so much as a gallery of concept art and that’s a big reason why the game doesn’t score higher. The game itself is excellent but, just as was the case with League of Legends, asking players to pay for the same content they could otherwise get cheaper isn’t something we’re entirely happy with.

Serious Sam HD is still amazing though and the fact that it incorporates Valve’s Steamworks program means that it has a decent back-end for organising co-operative matches through at least. Co-op gameplay is really where the game starts to excel, with the enemy count automatically scaling to match the number of combatants and the difficulty curve catering for all skill levels. On the lowest ‘Tourist’ difficulty you’re practically invulnerable, do double damage and your health regenerates, but up on ‘Mental’ mode the tables are turned and the enemies are all invisible to boot.

Serious Sam HD Review Serious Business!
Oooh, pretty!

Serious Sam HD Review Serious Business!The co-op itself is especially interesting because it, like the rest of the game, is actually very basic, or ‘distilled’ if you prefer. It’s the singleplayer campaign with extra players – none of this friend revival or healing crap, no painkillers to ration amongst your party and no actual teamplay required. Just you, some friends and an army in the distance. If one of you gets left behind then a teleporter usually appears to let you catch up, but that’s the only real concession for those who play in groups.

Somehow though, co-op in Serious Sam is more than the sum of it’s parts and stands out as one of the most incredibly joyous and social co-op games ever. Its over the top and irreverent attitude is infectious and makes Serious Sam the perfect antidote to the likes of Modern Warfare 2 and Left 4 Dead 2.

No matter how good the co-operative mode is or level design is (well, except for the obligatory sewer level) though, the game is still clearly let down by one flaw. There’s nothing new and aside from the graphic enhancements there’s no reason to prefer HD over the original. It’s a good game, but it doesn’t necessarily add up to being a really good purchase – and that’s really the major reason why we can’t recommend it without reservation.

Score Guide
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