This is getting serious!
This article contains some serious spoilers. Read at your own risk!
Serious Sam: The First Encounter is a first-person shooter video game developed by Croteam and published by Devolver Digital. The game is the first installment in the Serious Sam series. The game uses Serious Engine 1, the first game engine used in the series.
A sequel to the game, Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, was released on February 5, 2002. A high-definition remake of the game, Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter, was released on November 29, 2009 for Microsoft Windows, and January 2010 for the Xbox 360 version. On March 30, 2017, a virtual reality version of the game was made with HD graphics for Microsoft Windows.
In the near future, humanity has uncovered advanced alien technology in Egypt which has allowed humans to travel into the farthest reaches of space. This technology is from the Sirians, an extinct species that were quite similar to humans. However, they were wiped out by a mysterious being called Chaad Sheen, who apparently appeared in the universe in order to wipe out all intelligent life once every 100,000 years. Humanity ignored the Sirian's warnings about Chaad Sheen and traveled through the universe with technology based on a Sirian spaceship that was located on one of Saturn's moons; the SSS Centerprice.
While exploring Sirius, Sam "Serious" Stone, a Captain in the Earth Defense Force, discovers a large asteroid belt surrounding the planet that was never mentioned in the old Sirian archives. He decides to go through it, which was actually an ancient alarm system for Chaad Sheen designed to wake him up as fail-safe in case he hadn't exterminated all intelligent life in the universe. After being woken up, Chaad Sheen manages to defeat the humans, one battle after another. His power and craziness earns him the name "Mental". One of the heroes during these battles is Serious Sam, who constantly and ruthlessly fights off every alien he encounters.
After many battles, humanity is now doomed. Mental's forces are invading Earth, humanity's last stronghold, and there's no way to stop him. One of the scientists points out that a time-traveling device called the Time-Lock was found in the Sirian ruins. It turns out the machine was last used in Ancient Egypt, which would be when Mental was finishing off the Sirians. A plan is devised; using the Time-Lock, someone journeys back in time, summons the SSS Centerprice, flies to parts of Sirius' old trading routes, then uses the ships there to sneak up on and fight Mental while he's busy fighting off the Sirians. He won't expect someone to fight him one on one while he's busy doing something else. It's a desperate plan, but humanity is all out of options. The person chosen to go through the Time-Lock is Serious Sam because of how he can easily go against hordes of monsters and survive. However, as Serious Sam 3: BFE shows, getting to the Time-Lock isn't as easy as planned.
After the events of Serious Sam 3: BFE, Sam ends up in the Temple of Hatshepsut and starts his journey to find the elements, which are the four keys to Thebes, and houses the only way to bring the SSS Centerprice to Earth. However, Mental, who has been finishing up the Sirians, is alerted to his presence and sends some of his forces to Earth in order to stop Sam. Mental only sends in weak forces at Sam first, but after seeing his abilities, he begins to send in wave after wave of more tough foes at Sam.
With the four elements in Sam's possession, he enters Memphis and collects the Shrine of Amon-Ra, which is vital to summoning the SSS Centerprice. He then travels to Thebes and enters it by placing the elements he had collected earlier in various slots. Sam fights through Karnak (location)Karnak and eventually ends up in Luxor. Within Luxor, he discovers a tall obelisk, which hides a large tower that broadcasts the message to bring back the SSS Centerprice when the Sign of Amon-Ra is near it. With the SSS Centerprice finally coming to Egypt, Sam hurries to the Great Pyramid, which is where the Sirian ship will stop at. However, one of Mental's most trusted admirals, Ugh-Zan III, appears and attempts to kill Sam as he makes his way to the pyramid. Because Ugh-Zan III can regenerate his health, the only option for Sam is to run. Sam enters the pyramid after a close encounter with Ugh-Zan III, and prepares the ship for boarding by using the Amon-Ra artifact.
Whilst Sam is inside the pyramid, NETRICSA learns there's a catch with the SSS Centerprice; it will kill anyone that attempts to board it that is not a species authorized to use it. Since there's nothing else he can do at this point, Sam decides to try boarding it while hoping that the Sirians made humans an authorized species. He then takes an elevator to the top of the exposed pyramid, ready to try his luck with the SSS Centerprice. However, Ugh-Zan III scales the pyramid and attempts to stop Sam right before he's ready to board the ship. Sam manages to manipulate the ship's anti-intruder function by weakening Ugh-Zan III with his weapons, then luring him to the center of the boarding area, which is where one enters the SSS Centerprice. Ugh-Zan III's species is not authorized to use the ship, so the ship instead fires a very powerful laser at him, which manages to overwhelm and kill him before he can activate his regenerative abilities.
Right after Ugh-Zan III is killed, Sam runs into the middle of the boarding area, hoping that the ship has humans as an authorized species. It does, and Sam is warped onto the ship. As the ship departs to Sirius' trade routes, Sam calls up Mental and lets him know that he has an “important package” he needs to deliver to Mental, and that it'll be coming soon.
- Beheaded Rocketeer
- Beheaded Bomber
- Beheaded Firecracker
- Beheaded Kamikaze
- Common Aludran Reptiloid
- Highlander Aludran Reptiloid (Boss)
- Kleer Skeleton
- Lava Golem
- Major Bio-mechanoid
- Marsh Hopper
- Minor Bio-mechanoid
- Reeban Electro-Fish
- Scythian Witch-Harpy
- Sirian Werebull
- Ugh-Zan III (Boss)
- 12 Gauge Pump-Action Shotgun: A pump-action shotgun with a high rate of fire and decent range, but lacking in firepower.
- Double Barrel Coach Gun: A more powerful shotgun that, while powerful at close range, has a very tight spread and slow reload speed.
- M1-A2 Thompson Submachine Gun: A modified replica of the Thompson submachine gun that has perfect accuracy and deals decent damage, making it useful for clearing out medium-sized groups of enemies.
- Military Knife: A melee weapon which can be used for eliminating weak enemies at close range. Not to be used against ranged opponents.
- MK III Grenade Launcher: Can be charged to fire grenades at close range enemies or for targets that are further away. Grenades will either explode upon contact with an enemy or three seconds after it has been fired.
- SBC Cannon: A deadly weapon that is capable of mowing down many weak opponents in a row. The cannon fires high-powered cannonballs with extreme piercing capabilities.
- Schofield .45: A replica of the Smith & Wesson Model 3 that has been modified for increased accuracy, though it is not particularly useful in some situations due to its low rate of fire and damage output. It has infinite ammunition, though it still has to be reloaded.
- XL2 Lasergun: An energy weapon that fires a row of four laser beams consecutively. These beams instantly eliminate weak targets, while dealing moderate to heavy damage to tougher enemies.
- XM214-A Minigun: An automatic minigun that fires 5 mm rounds, and fires at 1200 rounds per minute, but its ammunition depletes relatively quickly. There is a delay before firing as the barrels need to spin up to full speed.
- XPML21 Rocket Launcher: This weapon is designed to fire a fast barrage of rockets that can penetrate through armor. Its advanced loading mechanism fires up to 85 unguided self-propelled 150mm Inferno rockets per minute.
Serious Sam: The First Encounter takes place in ancient Egypt and features large-scale battles against many enemies. The levels are linear and cannot be traveled back to once completed, but there are secrets hidden throughout the levels, which either contain weapons and ammo, a power-up, traps, more enemies, a comedic reference, or a combination of them. Most levels are broken up into a distinct pattern; a large arena featuring many enemies and items to signify the end of a wave, then a "break" room or area that has items and/or smaller amounts of enemies for the player to catch their breath in while still being challenged and having fun. They then enter a new arena, and it continues until the level ends.
The game features a scoring system that gives the player points for each enemy they kill. The points given usually depends on the strength and difficulty of an enemy killed; the Beheaded Rocketeer, the weakest and easiest enemy to kill in the game, gives away only 100 points when killed, while the Major Bio-mechanoid, a large enemy with a lot of health and rockets that can easily kill a player, will give the player 8000 points when killed. There are also bonuses for completing a level under the par amount of time listed in the statistics screen.
Hints and information about weapons and enemies are given to the player via NETRICSA, a neurochip implanted into Sam's skull. The game will occasionally have a message pop up, usually when a new area is entered, a new enemy is killed or a new weapon is picked up, for the player to read the computer's analysis of the new thing. Important tips are often contained in messages from NETRICSA (such as what to do in a room), so the player should consult it often.
Weapons are varied, but never become truly obsolete. The Schofields work well against weak enemies because of their low power, decent rate of fire, and infinite ammo; the rocket launcher is devastating against enemies at medium range and enemies with a lot of health, the minigun is useful against pretty much everything because of its extremely high rate of fire, while the cannon is the ultimate weapon against hordes of enemies, because it can pierce multiple enemies while traveling, and against strong enemies because its projectiles can be charged up.
Various armor, health and power-up items are scattered throughout the game; armor absorbs a certain amount of damage from enemy attacks when picked up, backpacks filled with ammo are usually placed near areas where there's going to be a huge fight, and various health pickups are scattered throughout levels for the player to recover lost health.
The First Encounter has one offline game mode, which is the campaign. The player must travel through ancient Egyptian-themed levels while fighting off enemies. After defeating the final boss, they win. Offline also features split-screen, which lets up to four people play the game's multiplayer modes in one PC.
Online contains more content. The most prominent online game mode is cooperative, which lets up to 16 people play through the campaign online. Functions such as the amount of re-spawns, enemy health and extra co-op enemies can be modified before starting a game. There are also two competitive modes; death-match and score-match. Deathmatch is the usual Quake-style death-match, but scorematch is different; everything the player does in a scorematch (picking up items, killing someone, etc) will give them points. However, they will lose points if they are killed. The person that either reaches the score limit or has the most points at the end of the time limit wins. These can also be played in offline mode's split-screen mode.
The First Encounter first started development in 1996 as a game called In the Flesh. The idea was to combine modern graphics with Doom's frantic, enemy horde-themed gameplay. The development went on and off because the early Croteam consisted of university students and the occasional person drafted into the military.
In the Flesh became Serious Sam in 1998, when Roman Ribarić, Croteam's CEO "received a vision" that told them to rename In the Flesh to Serious Sam. Most of the developers quickly complied. Development continued as normal, despite the name change.
The First Encounter was little-known until the very end of May 2000, when Test 1 was released. It was designed to help Croteam test Serious Sam on hardware. The test originally came out with little fanfare, but the classic gameplay and graphics quickly made it a hit among PC gamers. Two weeks later, the satirical video game website Old Man Murray had an interview with Croteam where they discussed such issues including an alleged Anti-American Croat conspiracy, then-Croatian president Franjo Tuđman's Nazi sympathies, and Croteam's CEO thinking the word "crate" meant "vehicle".
In October 2000, Test 2 was released, again to test Serious Sam with different PC setups that weren't available at the time. This version was much closer to the final game; it had co-op and death-match as well as the final skins and models for every enemy in it.
In March 2001, The First Encounter was released to wide acclaim. The game became a huge success and received multiple awards, including one from IGN, partially because of its $20 USD price tag. In March 2002, an expansion pack, Serious Sam: The Second Encounter was released. A few years later, both games were bundled into one package named Serious Sam Gold.
In September 2009, an HD remake of the game was made. Almost every enemy and weapon received a new model, and many textures were either replaced with new ones or stretched out versions of old ones. Effects and lighting were greatly improved, thanks to a newer version of the Serious Engine.
On March 30, 2017, a virtual reality remake was released. This version of the game has high-definition graphics just like Serious Sam HD, but the player can now dual-wield weapons instead of carrying one at a time.
The First Encounter sold over 83,000 copies by October 2001 in the United States. The game also received various editorial and consumer praise, with an overall review ratio of 87/100 on Metacritic. The First Encounter received numerous awards, including multiple Game of the Year awards, including The Electric Playground's "Best Independent PC Game" prize, and was a nominee in the show's "Best Shooter for PC", "Best Graphics in a PC Game" and "Best Action Game for PC" categories.
Behind the scenes
- Serious Sam was to feature many more areas after ancient Egypt, such as the Lava Planet, the Rock Planet, and the Water Planet. The original plan was to have the player fight off Mental at Sky City as well. However, sometime after June 2000, these areas were removed from the game and the game was restructured so that it'd end at The Great Pyramid.
- There were several enemies and weapons that were scrapped before the final game came out. Two aquatic enemies, the Fishman and Mantaman, a group of enemies called the Elementals, another flying enemy type, the Dragonman, a robot that was able to fly on a bike and fire lasers, the Cyborg, and a pair of enemies that would work together, the Mamut and Mamutman, were among the enemies scrapped before the final game came out. Scrapped weapons included the Ghostbuster, the Pipebomb, and the XOP Flamethrower.