In memoriam, Donald Sutherland

Serious Sam: The First Encounter

aka: Krutoj Sam: Pervaja Krov', Serious Sam Classic: The First Encounter, Serious Sam: 1st Encounter, Serious Sam: O Primeiro Confronto, Serious Sam: Pierwsze Starcie, Serious Sam: Premier contact
Moby ID: 3512
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Description official descriptions

When aliens ruled by the evil Mental attack Earth, it is up to Sam "Serious" Stone, one of the toughest guys on Earth, to time-travel back to Ancient Egypt in order to change history by defeating Mental back in the ancient times. The First Encounter tells about the first part of Sam's voyage through Egypt.

Serious Sam: The First Encounter is a high-adrenaline first-person shooter heavily focused on frantic arcade-style single player action. The game goes "back to roots" of the first-person shooter genre; it does not feature intricate story, character interaction or the need for careful tactics which were becoming common in the FPS's of its time, instead concentrating on epic battles where the player, armed with powerful weaponry, takes on tens or even hundreds of enemies at once.

Sam travels through deserts, Egyptian temples, palaces and cities, killing countless enemies and occasionally stopping to solve a more or less easy puzzle. There are many weapons to be found; they are all classic FPP armaments - shotguns, chainguns, rocket launchers etc., up to the most powerful weapon: a cannon which shoots devastating cannonballs. There are also many pick-ups, of course, containing ammo, health and armor.

The enemies come in many varieties - headless suicide bombers, giant bio-mechanical creatures that shoot missiles, scorpions with chainguns, bulls that charge at Sam, etc. There are also a couple of powerful bosses.

Sam has a mini-computer which contains basic info about the levels he's travelling through, weapons he collects and enemies he kills.

Spellings

  • Serious Sam: המפגש הראשון - Hebrew spelling
  • Крутой Сэм: Первая Кровь - Russian spelling
  • シリアスサム ファーストエンカウンター - Japanese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

195 People (76 developers, 119 thanks) · View all

Programming
2D Art
3D Art
Game Design
Level Design
Music
Sound
CEO
Serious Sam Voice by
Moral Boost by
amp11lib library by
Additional Programming
Additional Moral Boost
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 83% (based on 43 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 99 ratings with 9 reviews)

Serious Sam is here to stay!

The Good
Well, first off, there is LUDICROUS amount of action. You'll know what I'm talking about when you're standing in a field with enemies faster and more powerful than you are coming towards you from all sides. Yeehaw! Secondly, I enjoyed the refreshing Doom-like feel of the game. Even if a situation looks impossible, you will find a way out of it. Finally, the game is full of humor and secrets. Speaking of secrets, they're the best damn secrets in any game. They COMPLETELY step away from the game, and ANYTHING can happen in a secret area. Oh, yeah, and the graphics engine is absolutely gorgeous! Do yourself a favor and walk up to a wall. IT JUST DOESN'T PIXELATE!! NOT ONE BIT!!

The Bad
Parts of the game, especially towards the end, are EXTREMELY difficult. Some areas limit you on health and ammo for a while. Finally, you get annoyed when, for the 45th time in a level, you walk into a wide-open area with some really powerful item in the middle. Before you know it, the world around you is exploding, scratching, and, er, laser-ing. In my opinion, once per level is enough! UGH!

The Bottom Line
A serious FPS with a soaring fun factor!

Windows · by Archagon (108) · 2002

The Sun is God

The Good
Although often compared to 'Doom', Serious Sam is nothing like it; instead, it's essentially a modern update of 'Robotron 2084' and 'Smash TV', two classic arcade games in which the player fought against overwhelming odds in a series of square arenas. Sam also bears comparison with the cult Doom contemporary 'Rise of the Triad', in that it takes place mostly outdoors, in expansive locations. It shares Triad's surreal sense of humour - the oft-mentioned screaming headless kamikazes in particular - and underdog status, coded as it was by an small, enthusiastic company from Croatia. A low price and no requirement for a 50mb patch set it apart from the FPS mainstream at the time, and the lack of mainstream coverage - it was eventually championed by the website 'Old Man Murray' and nobody else - gave it an in-built cult appeal.

If you approach it as a modern Doom heir you'll be horribly disappointed, as I was at first, but more of that later. Once you accept that it's outdoors 'Gauntlet' in 3D, it becomes easier to bear; the action does not stop, there are some cute secrets (including the programmers themselves), and the music is atmospheric and catchy. On a visceral level, the sheer volume of baddies, of firepower, and the breathtaking size of the environments is unique and compelling, and the sky is beautiful. Really, the sky is beautiful, it truly is. The wispy clouds sit in the pristine blue air, with only the beating sun for company. For a game that has no pretensions at all, the evocation of ancient Egypt is superbly atmospheric, and makes one wish that Sam had been a complex graphic adventure rather than a shoot-em-up (as it stands, the game exists to showcase its custom-built engine, created at a time when everybody and his dog was licensing engines for their own projects).

The Bad
Serious Sam takes place in a serious of large, barren arenas, which are empty until the monsters warp in; although you can see for miles, there's nothing over there to see. It is entirely linear, in that there is a single path for the player to take; furthermore, the monsters appear in a set sequence, and indeed the manual even encourages you to quicksave and quickload often, so as to learn the pattern. To the extent that almost all first-person shooters play like this, it is forgivable; but

The monsters have almost no AI, and don't fight each other, whilst there are no exploding barrels or crushing ceilings to assist you. Indeed there are almost no 'clever bits', the gameplay is simply a test of the player's reactions. By a third of the way through the game you have seen everything it has - enormous quadrangles in which meanies appear in a set sequence. Too many of the weapons require one-and-a-tiny-bit shots to kill the most common villains, which is frustrating. The game does not take account of the player's location when warping in monsters, and they often appear just behind you. Most of the monsters go faster than you, and one class explodes if they get too close, whilst the player's ponderous gait makes getting about tedious. Quite often the projectile-firing monsters cannot be dodged without taking some damage, no matter how fast you are.

The gameplay involves running backwards and to one side, until a monster gets behind you, at which point you reverse direction. Mobygame's 'Tips and Tricks' section parodies this, but it is true; there is usually no cover to hide behind, and the monsters run faster than you. Parts of the game are thus excruciatingly frustrating, as no matter how skilful you are, you will die often without first having learned the sequencing of each arena.

The monsters are mostly anonymous, only one of them fitting the Egyptian location. Some of them are intensely irritating; the flying women who go faster than you and can't be outrun or dodged, the running skeletons which form the game's staple villain, but which are annoyingly resilient, chopping off a quarter of your health with each strike, notwithstanding that there are usually hundreds of them, and they jump behind you and you die. Argh. The large arenas and volume of enemy tend to make sidestepping away from incoming projectiles an exercise in guesswork rather than judgement.

The Serious Sam character himself is clearly modelled on Duke Nukem (and the little man from the 'Metal Slug' games), who was in turn constructed out of one-liners sampled from action/horror films. Sam's utterances are however infrequent and functional, beyond the phrase 'Sam I am!'.

The Bottom Line
The size and detailed textures are achieved at the expensive of environmental detail, though. The sequel, 'The Second Encounter', is the better game, and given that the two are now available in a budget-priced 'Gold' edition there's no pressing reason not to own both. Despite the criticism below, Sam is nonetheless fun in short bursts, albeit trivial, with no replay value. I have no idea how it is like in multiplayer, bearing in mind that there is no cover to hide behind and that the first player to get hold of the Tommy Gun would win.

The final battle, and the section leading up to the final battle, is quite strikingly huge.

Windows · by Ashley Pomeroy (225) · 2004

My parents stopped me from playing this game, So I SHOT EM UP HARD-STYLE

The Good
Retro is the new black. For every game that looks forward and tries to push the boundaries of gameplay and design, there is invariably another game that relives the days when shooters were fueled by sheer testosterone and "story" meant a paragraph in the manual. Serious Sam is one of the latter, an extremely stupid Doom homage that purposefully ignores all the innovations in gameplay since 1995.

You play as Sam Stone, a guy who has been sent back in time to stop an alien invasion before it begins. It was made by a Croatian development team and is the first of a series known for its intensity and over-the-top violence. The game's calling card is that you fight large numbers of enemies, sometimes several thousand per level. Serious Sam is crazy and unrelenting, sometimes you'll survive a battle with only 3 health and 10 shells left...and then have to fight again. Serious Sam's enemies are very aggressive and dangerous, and pose a massive threat even in small numbers. The absurd body count and non-stop fighting make Serious Sam an exceptionally intense game.

The game mostly takes place in Ancient Egypt, and the game has a funky art style that sets it apart from other games. The game takes place outside in huge courtyards and market squares, giving you lots of elbow room for the game's massive battles. As far as weapons go you have a knife (which is surprisingly useful), pistols with infinite ammo, single and double-barreled shotguns, a tommygun and chaingun, a rocket launcher, a grenade launcher, the series' trademark "Serious Bomb", a laser blaster, etc. Even the weak weapons pack a punch, and the diverse nature of the game's enemies mean you have to switch around a lot. Speaking of which, deformed and drooling horror-movie rejects are the rule here, as you have to fight such critters as headless suicide bombers, fridge-magnet shaped apes, and giant scorpions cross-bred with spiders. The bosses tower over you like skyscrapers.

Although it's mostly a by-the-numbers Doom clone, Serious Sam does experiment with some new ideas. You have an on-board computer called NETRISCA, who will provide information on the enemies you fight (analysing how strong/dangerous they are, etc), give you warnings about potential ambushes, or give you guidance on how to escape the area you're in. It speeds up the action in the game because you don't have to run around for 15 minutes looking for a button to press or an elevator to ride.

Graphics aren't great, but they do what they're supposed to do. Hundreds of enemies can be rendered on-screen at once with little lag, and the game's bright colors and exuberant art are reminiscent of Indiana Jones. There are some nice graphical effects like lens flares and realistic blood splatters (when a fast-moving enemy crushes you, it leaves a giant blood streak on the ground), and surprisingly good AI. Enemies will chase you up staircases, and even jump narrow ledges if possible. The game also has a dynamic soundtrack, which changes tempo to match the amount of action on screen.

Ultimately the best thing you can say about Serious Sam is it succeeds in expanding upon the frantic action of Doom. It seriously does make almost every other FPS game look tame, and that's not bad at all for a budget game.

The Bad
The game looked very promising when I first started playing, but sadly it never delivered the goods. Serious Sam begins and ends as a gimmick game. It's fun for about 20 minutes and after that is an extra-stupid version of Quake. It's weird how a game with this amount of KICKASS ACTION can be so...boring.

Serious Sam's gameplay formula boils down to the same thing: enter a large area, and destroy a huge swarm of enemies in order to collect some random item/weapon from off the ground, after which an exit will open somewhere and you can move into the next area where you will probably have to do the same thing. This is all there is. A computer bot could play Serious Sam.

Serious Sam is often compared to Duke Nukem 3D, but it isn't half the game Duke 3D was. The design isn't there. Serious Sam has huge environments, yes, but they are bland and featureless. There are huge expanses of practically nothing. Sam Stone gets a couple of weak one-liners but there's nothing like the retarded non-stop comedy of Duke. Environmental interaction is limited to pressing buttons and blowing up statues. The game's zany graphical style is cool at first, but every level looks the same. The only area where I would say Serious Sam's content shines is in the monster and weapon design, and frankly games that get off on wacky and weird enemies are a dime a dozen these days.

Since Serious Sam's action is repetitive and uninspired, and the levels boring and bland, I guess I can't do anything except pass this off as a 21st century version of Galaxa. But even by arcade game standards Serious Sam doesn't work. Sam Stone moves too slowly considering the pace of the action, and avoiding enemies when you run out of ammo is nearly impossible. Explosions do way too much splash damage and you'll often be killed by your own rockets. The game's aiming system automatically snaps you on to targets, which is nice, but it's only a token offering considering how frustrating combat can become.

The game has a very annoying over-use of monster traps, meaning when you go to pick up health or ammo monsters spawn from everywhere and attack you. Serious Sam's monsters are so fast and aggressive that this is a major problem, since the game gives you no warning whatsoever and enemies will often spawn right next to you.

The Bottom Line
Action-packed but generic and forgettable, Serious Sam is bargain bin material. There's not much of a game here and even on its own terms it is frustrating for the most part.

Windows · by Maw (832) · 2007

[ View all 9 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Croteam vedder (71218) Oct 29, 2018

Trivia

1001 Video Games

Serious Sam appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Demo

Some of the most famous Serious Sam players (who even appear in the game's credits) got the complete game only several months after its release, and constantly played the same demo level while others had the full version.

Development

The first Serious Sam demo was a technology demo for the Serious Engine by Croteam, not a demo for a game in particular. The folks at the Old Man Murray website praised the game so much that eventually the guys at the Gathering of Developers got wind of it and sponsored a complete, full game based around the demo.

Music

The final level music (before the boss) is a strange heavy metal remix of the famous Phantom of the Opera opening theme.

References

Sam's red sneakers may be a reference to Sonic the Hedgehog - the speed power-up that pictures them with wings all but cinches it.

Technology

Serious Sam was the first game to implement ATI's TrueForm graphics technology.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • April 2002 (Issue #213) – Best Enemies of the Year (for the headless soldiers)
  • GameSpy
    • 2001 – Best Value Priced Game of the Year
    • 2001 – Best End Boss of the Year

Information also contributed by El-ad Amir, NeoMoose, Ola Sverre Bauge and Tomer Gabel

Analytics

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Related Games

Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter
Released 2009 on Windows, 2010 on Xbox 360
Serious Sam: The Second Encounter
Released 2002 on Windows
Serious Sam: Gold
Released 2003 on Windows
Serious Sam HD
Released 2010 on Windows, 2011 on Xbox 360
Serious Sam
Released 2004 on Game Boy Advance
Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter
Released 2010 on Windows, Xbox 360
Serious Sam Classics: Revolution
Released 2014 on Windows
Serious Sam: Double D
Released 2011 on Windows, 2013 on Xbox 360

Related Sites +

  • Seriously Warped!
    Home of the highly acclaimed Warped Deathmatch MOD for Serious Sam. The team is also creating the multiplayer modes for Serious Sam: The Second Encounter.
  • Seriously!
    A well-populated forum and excellent tutorials regarding writing maps, mods and scripts to Serious Sam.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 3512
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Cromaa.

Additional contributors: Ray Soderlund, El-ad Amir, Unicorn Lynx, NeoMoose, tarmo888, tbuteler, Foxhack, lights out party, COBRA-COBRETTI, Crawly, Stratege, vicrabb, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack.

Game added April 3, 2001. Last modified June 5, 2024.