Serious Sam: The First Encounter has just been brought into the modern era by Majesco and Devolver Digital with Serious Sam HD, on Steam today with a $20 price tag. I stepped into the beefy hero's signature T-shirt for a couple of hours to see how well the experience had held up over the years.
This is, as it has always been, a series that relies on only the barest minimum of brain power. This a twitch shooter through and through, forcing you to hammer on the left mouse button as you plow your way through a cavalcade of ridiculous enemies, including our favorite, the headless screaming guy with bombs for hands. Shooting him, as you might imagine, hasn't gotten old in the more than eight years since the game was originally released.
In fact all the actual gameplay holds up pretty well even in these modern days of calls to duty and Master Chiefs. It's not something you'll want to sit in front of for hours, but it's a delectable palate cleanser when you just want to turn your brain off and shoot crap.
The graphical updates are nice too, as long as you don't expect it to completely modernize the game. Serious Sam HD has a shiny new coat of paint, but, as the drab environments and lackluster animations will testify, this is pretty clearly an old car.
If I have a sticking point, it's the price, which as I said, is $20. If that number seems familiar it's because that's exactly what it cost in 2001. I know, I know, there's been a graphical revamp, but I can't shake the feeling that it's a little steep.
Of course, the value argument is always built on the shaky ground of relativity. If you've got the dough, $20 probably seems a fair price. On the other hand, we're about to enter the holiday shopping season, and the budget-conscious among you are probably guarding every cent you have.
... On the third hand, if there's a time of year when you'll need to lay waste to hundreds of screaming headless men more, we're not aware of it.
And that's no joke.