Serious Sam HD - hands-on

Back to basics with this simple and sweet shooter

A remake of an eight year old PC first-person shooter, Serious Sam HD is a game focused entirely on action. Though we were only able to spend time with the single-player portion of the game - it will also feature online co-op for up to four players - SSHD is certainly one fast-paced, bare bones shooter that is an absolute blast to play.

The level on display appeared to be set is some ancient ruins, and featured both dimly lit indoor and sun-drenched outdoor areas. However, no matter where you were, things were set up pretty much the same: a big open area with a few columns or other obstacles to provide cover. But while this simple level design would make most games feel boring, it's essential in SSHD because the main tactic for nearly all enemies is to run straight at you. And they're fast. Because of this the open levels are a necessity, allowing you plenty of space to flank and backtrack.

Enemies themselves are fairly simple. A few have weapons they fire at you, while others are hulking brutes that simply chase you down unrelentingly. They are also quite plentiful, and seem to spawn whenever you take any action, be it flick a switch or even collect some ammo. Thankfully additional weapons and ammo are just as bountiful as the bad guys. In the first level alone we were able to upgrade from a simple pistol to a rifle, then from dual-wielded pistols to a shotgun, then finally from a double-barrel shotgun to a rocket launcher. Each firearm felt distinct from one another and, more importantly, each was satisfying to use. The shotgun in particular packs quite a punch, which is great for slowing down incoming foes.

It's a good thing that weapons are so fun to use because the majority of your time in the game will be spent shooting. There are a few simple puzzles thrown in to mix things up a little, but these mostly consist of hitting a series of switches in order to get to the next room, where you'll invariably have to mow down some more enemies. But while the game may not be all that mentally taxing, it certainly makes up for it with sheer brute force, providing a great, stripped-down shooter experience.

Sep 30, 2009

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