Serious Sam is the title of a series of first-person shooters created by the Croatian development team 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 Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo GameCube, Sony PlayStation 2 and Xbox Live Arcade among others.
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, Quake-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, small groups of enemies are replaced by dozens attacking at any given time, and there are many hidden areas and treasures to find, often in obscure and counter-intuitive locations. 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 in his brain. NETRICSA serves as an in-game strategy guide, cataloguing 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 not commonly seen in modern PC first-person shooters. Besides network/online play, Serious Sam also allows for split screen action supporting up to 4 players and this is an even rarer multiplayer feature for PC games these days, although very common in gaming consoles.
Serious Sam: The First Encounter
The First Encounter was the first game in the series which 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 introduction reveals what happened before the game actually takes place: in ancient times, Earth was involved in a conflict between Mental and the Sirians, an alien race that left many of its artifacts to be found by humanity. In the 22nd century Mental's forces return to Earth hell-bent on eradicating humankind: as a last resort the usage of the "Time Lock" is decided: this Sirian device can send back through time a single individual who can, hopefully, defeat Mental and alter the course of history. Because of his bravery in fighting the monsters, Sam "Serious" Stone is chosen to use the "Time Lock". As the game opens, Sam appears in Ancient Egypt. his travels from one Egyptian monument to the next, all the way fighting against the monsters Mental sent after him, make up most of the story of The First Encounter. During his wandering, Sam is able to activate a hidden Sirian communicator, located in Luxor, that summons to Earth a starship from the depths of space. Sam goes to the Great Pyramid for a rendezvous with the ship and, after a titanic battle against Mental's general Ugh Zan III, he is whisked on board the Sirian starship.
Serious Sam: The Second Encounter
The Second Encounter starts right where the previous chapter left off, with Sam travelling to Sirius on the starship. Unfortunately Sam's vehicle is accidentally hit by the "Croteam crate-bus" and plummets down to Earth's surface. Serious Sam crash lands in Central America in the Mayan age. However not all is lost, since the Sirians left a back-up ship on Earth. Since this vehicle is located in a different age from the one Sam finds himself, the hero has to uncover the locations of a number of Sirian time-gates that will help him reach his destination. With this objective, Sam storms through Ancient Mesoamerica, then travels to Ancient Mesopotamia and finally to Medieval Europe where the starship is located. On his way, Sam battles two of Mental's timelock guardians: the spirit named Kukulkan the Wind God and a biomechanical creature, the Exotech Larva. Finally, in front of the Cathedral of Sacred Blood, Sam confronts Mordekai The Summoner, the last obstacle to overcome on his path to the Holy Grail. After a time-consuming battle with Mordekai's minions, The Summoner is finally silenced forever. In the cathedral, Sam lifts the Holy Grail, followed by his confession of his sins in a booth... to Mental, during which he reassures Mental that "he's coming to get him."
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.
Serious Sam: Gold Edition
Serious Sam: Gold Edition is a special Serious Sam release featuring all the contents of The First Encounter, The Second Encounter and the fan-made level-pack Dark Island. The games are on separate CDs (in the UK version) and are identical to their individual releases, although the Sam character model for The First Encounter was modified to match the one used in The Second Encounter.
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 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 later, Sam Stone, again victorious, finally returns back 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 giant robotic body.
Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter
Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter, the third Serious Sam game was announced by Croteam and printed in many gaming news articles such as Eurogamer, and on June 25, 2009, it was officially announced that the third title in the series will be Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter. It was released on 24 November 2009 for PC through Steam, the XBLA release (published by Majesco Entertainment) was delayed until January 13, 2010. The game is a remake of Serious Sam: The First Encounter with improved textures and character models. It retails for 1200 Microsoft Points or US$15 (also $15 for the PC version) and supports 16-player online co-op (4-player in the XBLA version). This remake features Achievements. Deathmatch and dedicated server support have recently been added.
Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter
On November 30, 2009, Croteam and the publisher Devolver Digital announced that Serious Sam: The Second Encounter will be remade using Serious Engine 3. It was released on 28 April 2010 for PC and will be released for Xbox Live on September 22, 2010. A new game mode, titled "Co-op Tournament" was introduced in this remake. They also announced that the new Co-op Tournament mode will be used for competitions at the Expo 2010 Shanghai. Several screenshots have been released showing updated visuals, models and more lush environments. On April 7, a debut trailer was released showing gameplay.
Serious Sam 3
Serious Sam 3 is currently in development by Croteam. It will feature the use of Serious Engine 3. Croteam CEO Roman Ribaric has stated that "it is currently planned to be finished in 2010. Croteam has announced that Serious Sam 3 will debut at E3 2011. "
The Serious Sam series may be most well known for its humour, 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". In addition, there is also the recurring appearance of a creature called a Gnaar, who is seen in several cutscenes throughout the games. 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 humour 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.
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 enemy textures 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
- ↑ Serious Sam: The First Encounter - Backstory. Seriously!. Retrieved on 2007-05-21
- ↑ Seriously! - Leading coverage of Serious Sam 2 and other Serious Engine Games. Seriouszone.com. Retrieved on 2008-10-27
- ↑ Rob Purchese (14 May 2007). "Serious Sam 3 revealed News // None /// Eurogamer - Games Reviews, News and More". Eurogamer.net. http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=76361. Retrieved 2008-10-27.
- ↑ http://www.co-optimus.com/article/3061/Serious_Sam_HD_Delayed_Until_January_on_Xbox_Live_Arcade.html
- ↑ 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/
- ↑ "Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter Announced". bluesnews.com. 2009-11-30. http://bluesnews.com/cgi-bin/board.pl?action=viewstory&threadid=104792. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
- ↑ Serious Sam 3 seriously planned for 2010 release. Joystiq (2009-12-20). Retrieved on 2009-12-20
- ↑ Serious Engine Overview. Croteam. Retrieved on 2006-09-05
- ↑ John J Dick's website
- ↑ Serious Sam: The First Encounter Reviews. Gamerankings.com. Retrieved on 2008-10-27
- ↑ GameSpot - /gamespot/features/pc/bestof_2001/p5_06.html. Gamespot.com (DS). Retrieved on 2008-10-27
- ↑ http://pc.ign.com/articles/165/165156p1.html
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 System Maintenance. Actionvault.ign.com. Retrieved on 2008-10-27
- Croteam website
- 'Serious Sam series at MobyGames
- Seriously! – Serious Coverage – Forums, Downloads, News, Interviews, etc.