- Serious Sam
Serious Sam: The First Encounter Developer(s) Croteam Publisher(s) Gathering of Developers Engine Serious Engine Version 1.05 Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Linux, Xbox, Xbox Live Arcade Release date(s) INT March 1, 2001 Genre(s) First-person shooter Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer Rating(s) Media/distribution Optical disc
Serious Sam is the first game (consisting of two episodes) in the Serious Sam series. It is a first-person shooter (with third-person shooter options) created by the Croatian development house Croteam. Originally released for the PC market only, Serious Sam's rising popularity resulted in the porting of the series to a number of different platforms, including the Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2 and Xbox Live Arcade, among others.
The series follows the adventures of protagonist Sam "Serious" Stone and his fight against the forces of the notorious extraterrestrial overlord Mental who seeks to destroy humanity.
The series' gameplay could be seen as a throwback to earlier first-person shooters. Released during a time where shooters were becoming increasingly realistic and more concerned with "authenticity", Serious Sam offered up traditional, Doom-style shooting.
However, the more modern technology of the time allowed for a new take on that classic formula. Closed-in corridors are mostly replaced with wide-open environments, and there are many hidden areas and treasures to find, often in obscure and counter-intuitive locations. In addition the small groups of enemies are replaced by dozens attacking at any given time, and the enemies can often be many times the size of the player.
Combat makes up most of the games, with Sam's only help being NETRICSA (NEuro-TRonically Implanted Combat Situation Analyser), an advanced computer AI surgically implanted into his skull. NETRICSA serves as an in-game strategy guide, cataloging encountered enemies and weapons, and at the same time providing bits about the background story and hints on how to progress. Ammunition and weapons are plentiful, and guns, for the most part, do not need to be reloaded. Enemy designs are whimsical and often take inspiration from mythology and fantasy, and include anything from flying harpies, to giant bipedal cybernetic monsters, to headless suicide-bombers.
Serious Sam features cooperative gameplay, something that was not common among first-person shooters of the time. Besides network/online play, Serious Sam also allows for split screen action supporting up to 4 players, a rare feature for PC games (though very common in console games).
The Serious Sam series may be well known for its humor, which manifests itself in both explicit jokes from Sam himself, as well as the nonsensical designs of the environments and characters. Many enemy designs in particular, such as headless suicide-bombers (who, against all laws of logic, scream loudly while running towards Sam), depart noticeably from reality or even common fantasy. Some of the humor also comes from the secrets in the levels, such as "secret gay wedding" or "secret crocodile". Many of the jokes break the fourth wall. For example, Sam occasionally taunts other action heroes, claiming to be the best one, or stumbles upon a movie set showing a scene from an earlier game in the series being recorded. There is also incidental humor to be found in the level designs themselves, with rooms featuring strange physics and warped gravity without explanation, or enemies which spawn immediately behind or in front of Sam without warning.
Serious Sam consists of three episodes: Serious Sam: The First Encounter, Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, and the fan-made level-pack Dark Island. A release, entitled Serious Sam: Gold Edition featured all the contents of The First Encounter, The Second Encounter and Dark Island. The games are on separate CDs (in the UK version) and are identical to their individual releases, except that the Sam character model for The First Encounter was modified to match the one used in The Second Encounter.
Serious Sam: The First Encounter
The First Encounter was the first game in the series; it had been in the making since 1996 and had a video showing its early game play in 2000. The First Encounter was originally developed by Croteam as a demonstrator for their engine and this is the reason why some countries saw its initial release priced at less than half the value of other games in the genre.
The game takes place after the events of the upcoming game Serious Sam 3: BFE and the introduction reveals what happened before the actual story took place. In ancient times, Earth was involved in a massive conflict between Mental, an evil extraterrestrial being who wants to rule the universe, and the Sirians, a sentient alien race that left many of its artifacts to be discovered by humanity. In the 22nd century, Mental and his army of grotesquely, twisted monsters return to Earth hell-bent on eliminating humanity, as a last resort for the usage of the "Time-Lock" is decided. This mysterious Sirian artifact contains the power to transport a single person back through a chosen point of time. Because of his bravery in fighting these monsters, Sam "Serious" Stone (who was chosen to use the "Time Lock") can hopefully defeat Mental and alter the course of history. As the game opens, Sam appears in Egypt. He travels from one Egyptian monument to the next, fighting against the monsters Mental sent after him along the way. During Sam's journey, Sam is able to find and activate a hidden Sirian communicator in the shape of an obelisk located in Luxor, which summons a Sirian starship to Earth from deep space. Sam rushes to the Great Pyramids of Giza in order to rendezvous with the starship, only to be cornered by Mental's general, Ugh Zan III. After defeating this giant, Sam then teleports himself onto the starship. While Sam is aboard the "SSS Centerprise", he leaves a phone message to Mental telling him that "he has a special delivery package for him" and sets a course to Sirius, the Sirian homeworld.
Serious Sam: The Second Encounter
Serious Sam: The Second Encounter Developer(s) Croteam Publisher(s) Gathering of Developers Engine Serious Engine Version 1.07 Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Linux, Xbox Live Arcade Release date(s) February 2002 Genre(s) First-person shooter Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer Rating(s) Media/distribution Optical disc
The Second Encounter starts where the previous game left off, with Sam travelling to Sirius on the "SSS Centerprise". Unfortunately the starship is accidentally hit by the "Croteam crate-bus" and plummets down to Earth's surface. As the starship falls, Sam reads the coordinates and frets about crash-landing into Egypt again, but instead he crashes into Central America in the Mayan age, with the starship now heavily damaged upon impact. However, not all hope is lost, since the Sirians left a "back-up starship" on Earth, which was a fail-safe in case if anything ever happens to the "SSS Centerprise". However, since this "back-up starship" is located in a different time and age than where and when Sam is currently in, he will have to uncover the locations of the other Sirian Time-Locks that will help him reach his destination. With this new objective, Sam storms through Mesoamerica, then travels to Mesopotamia and finally to Medieval Europe where the "back-up starship" is located. On his journey, Sam battles two of Mental's Time-Lock guardians: a powerful spirit named Kukulkan the Wind God and a biomechanical creature called the Exotech Larva. Finally, in front of the Cathedral of Sacred Blood, Sam confronts the last obstacle to overcome on his path to the Holy Grail, Mordekai the Summoner. After a glorious battle with Mordekai and his spawning minions, The Summoner is finally silenced forever. In the Cathedral, Sam lifts the Holy Grail in the palms of his hands, followed by his confession of his sins in a booth...to Mental, during which he reassures Mental that "he's coming to get him." During the end credits, Sam activates the "back-up starship" and makes a long journey into space toward his next adventure...
The story then continues on to Serious Sam II.
Other than the more varied locations, The Second Encounter features some additional weapons—a chainsaw, a flamethrower, a sniper rifle, and the powerful Serious Bomb—and a number of new monsters that Sam has to face. This game has also seen the release of a level-pack titled Dark Island, featuring fan-made levels for single and multiplayer mode.
The Second Encounter soundtrack featured three instrumental songs from the Croatian heavy-metal band Undercode.
Dark Island is a fan-made level-pack for Serious Sam that was released officially as part of Serious Sam: Gold Edition.
The game was remade using Serious Engine 3. It features updated visuals, models, and lush environments in high definition. Along with improved textures and character models, the remake features 16-player online co-op (4-player in the XBLA version), deathmatch, dedicated servers, and achievements. A new game mode, titled "Co-op Tournament" was introduced in this remake.
The remake of the first episode Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter was released on 24 November 2009 for Windows PC through Steam, and on January 13, 2010 for Xbox 360. The remake of the second episode Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter was released on April 28, 2010 for Windows PC and on September 22, 2010 for Xbox Live. On January 14, 2011. The Fusion DLC for the game which merges both The First Encounter and The Second Encounter was released on February 23, 2011, this DLC is free for those who own both encounters on the PC.
Serious Sam (Xbox)
The Xbox edition of Serious Sam had notable differences including the model of Sam being changed from the model of The First Encounter to form a more cartoon style Sam, removing the shades to make him look less like Duke Nukem and more like he does today. The Xbox version includes all of the levels from both of the PC games. As a result, weapons from The Second Encounter were added to the levels that were part of The First Encounter on PC. The levels were made smaller by removing the areas outside of the playing area. Unlike the PC version, you can't exit too far out of the playing area. This is due to the smaller amount of memory available in the Xbox. The gameplay was given a more arcade touch. A life system was implemented into the Singleplayer game making use of the score. Every 100,000 points grants the player a new life, which allows respawning at the place of death rather than at a save point. Combo points were added for killing multiple enemies at the same time, which allows the player to increase his/her score at a fast pace. Further changes to the game include the addition of treasure and the tweaking of save points. Save points are designated by a red phone booth. Autoaiming was also added to the Xbox version to compensate for the degree of control usually offered by a keyboard and mouse setup.
Serious Sam Advance
Serious Sam Advance is a spin-off for the Game Boy Advance. The game features Egypt and Rome as settings, new graphical style, and many enemies and weapons returning from The First Encounter and The Second Encounter. The game introduces many new, exclusive enemies and weapons. The story resolves around Sam going back in time again as a group of people studying ancient civilizations in the Earth's past encounters new forces of Mental's hybrid army. Sam has to return to Egypt first, and then proceed to Rome, battling hordes of enemies on his way. The game's bosses (each one encountered at the end of two settings) are two similar-looking lychantroph-like commanders: Sirian Sphinx (Egypt) and Wolfiator (Rome). With the defeat of the latter, Sam Stone, again victorious, finally returns to his time.
Serious Sam: Next Encounter
Serious Sam: Next Encounter is a console exclusive version of Serious Sam that was released for the PlayStation 2 and the Nintendo GameCube. The weapons in Next Encounter are all remakes of those from the PC games (e.g. the revolvers are renamed to pistols), also support for vehicles and brand-new levels with previously visited history periods have been added; in addition, different types of ammunition were available for certain weapons. In line with the PC releases, Next Encounter retailed at a budget price of US$19.99. While this game was not developed by Croteam, but by Climax under stylistical and technological terms, it is still identical to the other games in the series. Climax also developed Serious Sam: Advance. It starts off with Sam Stone stepping into a time machine which teleports him into Ancient Rome where large groups of Mental's forces are waiting. Sam has to confront not only the armies of his enemy, but also the Mini Sam, an evil being created by Mental. The story takes Sam through three different settings of Earth's past: Ancient Rome, Ancient China and long lost Atlantis where Sam, as usual, has to wipe out the hybrid army of his nemesis and save the timeline from corruption. On his way through Rome and China, Sam defeats other two Mental's timelock guardians: the gigantic beast Diablotaur and the monstrous Subterranean Emperor Hydra. The game culminates on board of a Sirian mothership, where Sam has to battle the Sirian Dark Lord, a soul of a great Sirian warrior infused with a giant robotic body.
The fan community is creating a port of Serious Sam: Next Encounter for PC, called Serious Sam HD: Next Encounter.
Croteam created their own engine for use in both The First Encounter and The Second Encounter. Named the "Serious Engine", it is designed to cope with extremely large view distances and massive numbers of models, unlike most FPS engines which are developed for a limited draw distance and only a few animating models (i.e. enemies) on screen at a time: it is very efficient, capable of maintaining dozens of moving enemies (often stampedes) even on a modest system challenging the well known id Tech, Unreal or Source engines. The "Serious Engine" can render through both Direct3D or OpenGL and, while it does not support pixel or vertex shaders, it is optimised for Direct3D 7's hardware transformation, clipping and lighting. The "Serious Engine" is available for licensing from Croteam.
A more powerful iteration of the "Serious Engine" was developed for use in Serious Sam II and is known as "Serious Engine II". It supports for many features of modern GPUs such as pixel and vertex shaders, HDR, bloom and parallax mapping.
Serious Engine 3 was used in Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter and Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter, and is to be used in Serious Sam 3 as well. It includes detailed shading, and enemies are completely remodeled to look more realistic. This engine is also being developed to harness the full capacity of HDR and High Definition mapping.
Serious Sam is voiced by John J Dick.
The First Encounter was the recipient of various editorial and consumer praise, with an overall 83% review ratio on Game Rankings as of October 1, 2007. It was the recipient of several major awards from the media, including Game of the Year.
- Game of the Year (PC) (2001) – GameSpot
- Editor's Choice – IGN
- Outstanding Achievement in Technology (2001) – IGN Action Vault
- Surprise of the Year (2001) – IGN Action Vault
- ^ Fletcher, JC (2009-09-25). "Croteam seriously remaking Serious Sam for XBLA [update: It's coming to PC too"]. Joystiq. http://www.joystiq.com/2009/06/25/croteam-seriously-remaking-serious-sam-for-xbla/. Retrieved 2009-10-10.
- ^ http://store.steampowered.com/app/41000/
- ^ http://www.co-optimus.com/article/3061/Serious_Sam_HD_Delayed_Until_January_on_Xbox_Live_Arcade.html
- ^ "SeriousSite". SeriousSite.ru. http://www.serioussite.ru/news/anons_serious_sam_hd_next_encounter/2011-01-29-196.
- ^ "Serious Engine Overview". Croteam. http://www.croteam.com/engine_overview.shtml. Retrieved 2006-09-05.
- ^ John J Dick's website
- ^ "Serious Sam: The First Encounter Reviews". Gamerankings.com. http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages2/257237.asp. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
- ^ "GameSpot - /gamespot/features/pc/bestof_2001/p5_06.html". Gamespot.com. DS. http://www.gamespot.com/gamespot/features/pc/bestof_2001/p5_06.html. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
- ^ http://pc.ign.com/articles/165/165156p1.html
- ^ a b "System Maintenance". Actionvault.ign.com. http://actionvault.ign.com/features/specials/awards01_a.shtml. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
- Croteam website
- Serious Sam series at MobyGames
- Seriously! – Serious Coverage – Forums, Downloads, News, Interviews, etc.
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