Let us gets serious for a moment. No, really, let’s get serious... with Sam. Now in HD, the classic PC shooter is back for one more romp on the Xbox Live Arcade. Sam is back, and ready to give out a good dose of the ‘old school’ in Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter.

The funny thing about having 'Serious Sam: The First Encounter' remade for the Xbox Live Arcade is looking at it retrospectively. When Serious Sam was first released, it was the new shooter on the block with the old school taste. Borrowing heavily from shooters like 'Rise of the Triad' and ‘Doom’, Sam paved its own path of destruction. Now with Sam's return, Serious Sam HD feels even more old school because it is truely an old school shooter, of an old school shooter, that was influenced by an even older school of shooters. Huh?! a What?!

Seriously Different
To put this in perspective, when Serious Sam launched back in 2001 it was very different from every other shooter on the market. At that time, the FPS genre was trying to push itself forward after such memorable releases like 'Half-Life' (1998), 'Red Faction' (2001), and a little game we called 'Halo: Combat Evolved' (2001). Comparing Serious Sam to those three titles is like comparing 'Grand Theft Auto' to 'Tomb Raider'; sure, they are both labeled as action games, but they are worlds apart. Serious Sam was a throwback styled game with shiny graphics, released at a lower price to lure in an audience that might have passed up Sam for the more ‘advanced’ shooters of the year. Even with all the competition Serious Sam managed to make a name for itself as one of the most "entertaining" shooters of the year.

Looking Better Than Ever
For those who have played Serious Sam in any of its seven versions over the years, you should know exactly what you are getting into. Serious Sam HD is just that, Serious Sam with updated graphics that make the streamlined style seem even shinier than before. More than a simple up’d resolution; Croteam has ported Sam over to run in their new engine, that makes the old game pale in comparison. When seen in side-by-side screens, there is no question in the changes made in Sam’s translation to HD. This fact alone should make the Sam fans of yesteryear stand up and take notice, Sam is back, and looking better than ever!

Rolling on Live
Released as an Xbox Live Arcade title, Serious Sam HD also supports achievements, and co-op gameplay with up to four players. The PC has support for 16 players, which would instantly make it a more enticing option, if available. The achievements featured in Serious Sam are really tough and made to benifit gamers who plan on exporing the games two player options. I am sure I will see a lot of gamers with only 10-30(GP) besides Serious Sam HD because its damn tough.

To highlight some of the hardest achivements we have 'I Am Invicible' that requires you to brave the impossible and complete the game without firing a single bullet! huh! Then you have others like 'Metropolis King' - complete the game without reloading on serious difficulty, and 'Serious Run' complete the game by beating the estimated time on each level. 'Serious Run' might not be as challegning as 'I am Invicible', but it is still good for those who love a challenge.

Sam, Show em' What You Got!
If you remember Serious Sam being one of the most frantic, intense, FPS, nothing has changed. Serious Sam is unforgiving with its super-fast, frenzied action. Hands down, from a pure shooter perspective, Serious Sam HD is one of the best FPS you will find on the Xbox Live Arcade. If you think the shooters of this generation are bringing it all, think again. Sam is a great game to rewind the clock with to show all the new school kids what the olden days was all about. The action has not story as it blazes along with a breakneck pace. The charm of Serious Sam is not only its throwback shoot first, plot later; it is the variation of enemies, large open environments, and solid line-up of weaponry.

Lock and Load
The weapons in Sam never gets too crazy with the standard line up of pistols, shotguns, missile launchers, and cannon balls (well, maybe that's a little crazy), but it works. The controls are super simple with the shoulder buttons toggling the weapons, and the triggers commanding the ability to jump and shoot, the only two commands Sam needs. Sam can also reload his weapon, and use a quick save, which is very important to snagging all the achievements.

In the Future?
The only switch up I would have liked to see in Serious Sam HD was the ability to melee enemies with the thumbstick. I can tell you how many times I ran head-on with an enemy clicking the thumbstick and getting killed in embarrassment I know it is a remake of an older title, but a little switch up couldn't hurt, could it?! Also, I would have really liked to see a Deathmatch option added to the game. Sam would only benefit from a multiplayer modes aside from co-op gaming. If one game needs the basic multiplayer line-up, it is Serious Sam.

Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter is a solid, and fun addition to the Xbox Live Arcade. Even without the factor of Sam being a old school classic, Serious Sam HD would be a worth wile purchase. Shooters just don't have the same mojo as this old school throwback. If you are looking for a shooter with a fresh take, Serious Sam HD is worth the investment, and one that will make all those newbies think again when they say 'Call of Duty' is the fastest shooter on the market. Sam is back!

Final Score: 8.0

Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 01.18.10
  • Fast paced, unforgiving shooter
  • One of the best FPS available in the arcade
  • Challenging achievements
  • Four player co-op support
  • Looks brilliant in HD
  • PC version supports more players in co-op
  • No Deathmatch options
  • Achievements are super tough!

Similar Games: Serious Sam: The Second Encounter (7.5)


Serious Sam HD
The First Encounter

Devolver Digital
Majesco Ent.



US Release
January '10


Xbox Live Arcade

Player 1
Co-Op 2-4
HDTV 720p
Dolby 5.1
1200 MS Points