Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter

So you’ve just finished Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter. What now? Look no further than Sam’s second foray into Xbox Live Arcade in the aptly titled Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter. “Serious” Sam Stone has departed ancient Egypt for good and crash lands somewhere deep in South America around the Mayan time period. Your carnage-fuelled crusade takes you from South America, Persia, and to Medieval Europe, but as the saying goes, it’s not the destination that matters – it’s the journey. And you are in for one hell of a journey.

Serious Sam is the kind of game you can load up and just kill enemies, time and stress. There’s not much in the way of any gameplay variety – you’re either turning a gazillion enemies into red mushy chunks or overcoming very minimalist puzzles that involve pressing a wall button or two, but it’s fairly well balanced with some varied levels; you’ll be switching between narrow corridors filled with headless, screaming kamikaze men and vast open plains filled with headless, screaming kamikaze men every few minutes or so.

Some of the extended battles can be extremely repetitive which I found made sitting down and just playing for any length of time turn into a real slog. After a seemingly unending fight against wave after wave of giant mechs and steel skeletons, I couldn’t continue without taking a break (but then we’re supposed to do that any way, right?). I can play other games for hours without blinking but there was just something about the tedium of Serious Sam that made me want to stop for a bit and take a breather.

Also worth pointing out is that there isn’t really much of a difference between The First Encounter and The Second Encounter. The only noticeable differences is that where The First Encounter had only one environment to play through, The Second Encounter has three and there’s a few new faces in the long list of enemies you’ll come across. But that’s it. For the 400 Microsoft Points extra that The Second Encounter costs over The First Encounter, all it feels like you’re getting is three new locations and some more enemies to crush. The Second Encounter still pulls the same tricks as it’s predecessor with the sneaky spawning of enemies right in front of or behind you.

Despite all that, I still found The Second Encounter pretty good fun. In any one level you’re looking at between 10 to 15 references to other games or films – right at the start there’s a phone box where Sam makes a phone call enquiring about the whereabouts of someone he calls “blondie” whom he’s been “waiting on forever” to which the other end replies “he’ll be ready when he’s ready”. In a few months that reference will be outdated, but it was a nice little nod all the same. There are plenty of secrets to find in all the levels; the completionists out there will have a ball trying to find them all and I wish them luck. They ‘ll really need it as they chop down every tree and destroy every object in sight looking for them. I honestly found a Tommy gun by chopping down a tree.

The Second Encounter is for the gamer who doesn’t mind extra helpings of repetition – it’s not really for anyone else. If you’re looking for an excuse to mindlessly decimate legions of hostile aliens, robots and robot aliens then get Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter. If you finish that and want more: get Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter.







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