Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter Review (PC)

All those tongue-in-cheek gaming icons of old seem to have been having a bit of a rough time lately, but Serious Sam has managed to break out of the prison Duke Nukem couldnít with a few High Definition remakes of his finest hits.

Here, then, is Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter a high definition restoration of the 2002 title that was and still is widely thought by both critics and gamers to be the best title in the Serious Sam series.

††††††††††††††††††††††††† Just another day in the office for Sam.
For those of you unfamiliar, Serious Sam is a straight-up shooter, leaving complex design ideas like vehicles, detailed mission objectives and even a plot that makes sense at the door. Sam is here to blow things up and throw about some so-bad-theyíre-good quips as he treks across the globe after the evil alien Mental, blowing them all up to stop Alien invasion.

If youíve many memories of the old 90ís first person shooters where characters move at 100 miles an hour and all you have to do is point and click down that left mouse button, youíll be right at home in The Second Encounter. Like Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter, this second revamp doesnít see the need to mess with the formula from the original, keeping the classic, simplistic gameplay but making it look prettier and run smoother.

Of course as well as the visual changes there are some new crazy weapons for Sam to bust out, a few new enemy types and tweaks to level design and some new challenge levels, but on the whole this is the Serious Sam: The Second Encounter fans will remember from 2002, just bigger.

The weapons you can lay your hands on vary from old-school six-shooters to massive miniguns, flamethrowers and a chainsaw. They all function in slightly different ways but all have the oh-so satisfying end-result of Alien blood splattering up the walls. Thereís also a selection of power-ups you can grab thatíll allow you to take more damage or give more out and so on, all of which can be game-changers when youíre on the brink of death.

††††††††††††††††††††††† Youíll encounter the traditional lava levels...
Survival Mode is a key new addition to The Second Encounter, and wasnít present in the original release. Itís essentially yet-another horde mode or whatever you wish to call it Ė youíll be given a small arena, and either alone or in Co-Op you must see how long you can survive against ever-increasing waves of enemies. Itís a mode that works great with Serious Samís over the top presentation, and leads to massively fun organised chaos.

In addition to Survival, the entire story mode is Co-Op, and thereís a few other modes that offer options for when you want to play others. You can play with a couple of mates or go for the full, sixteen-player hog Ė and my recommendation here is the more players the better. Traditional multiplayer remains, with modes like Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and so on included.

The single-player story is competent, but the true fun and value in The Second Encounter comes when youíre playing it with friends. The relatively asinine, boring story becomes an absolute blast when you up the player count and the multiplayer modes are so fun that itís a stark reminder that an online shooter doesnít have to be a serious, contemporary conflict to be fun.

The HD upgrade holds up well, and while it isnít going to hold a candle to your favourite disc-based shooter, itís a massive upgrade from the original Ė consider that the game is nearly eight years old before complaining. All the menus and music have likewise been bought up to a modern standard Ė itís a quality upgrade, especially for the $20 price tag.

†††††††††††††††††††††† ...As well as a medieval looking castle!
The fact that this is a remake thatís almost eight years old means that itís going to feel a little antiquated, and because of that Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter wonít be for everyone. The story will get boring fast alone, and the core gameplay lacks a lot of depth compared to modern shooters.

With that said if youíre at all a fan of old-school 90ís shooters, Serious Sam or just superb multiplayer fun, Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter could be the perfect distraction from all the serious shooters being released in 2010. Itís an over the top tribute to games of old, and best of all, itís fun.

Best Moment:
Getting hold of that chainsaw for the first time... Itís like that scene out of Scarface, but over and over again.

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