Serious Sam: The First Encounter is the first installment in the Serious Sam series. It's a First-Person Shooter developed by Croteam and published by Gathering of Developers for Microsoft Windows on March 21, 2001.
In days long past, the alien race known as the Sirians did battle with the alien overlord "Mental". Although many Sirians were killed, Mental was repelled.
In the 22nd century, Mental has returned, bringing with him a vast army that spacefaring Humanity fails to beat back. With Mental's forces pressing onto Earth, the decision is made to send a single elite back in time via rediscovered Sirian time-travel technology known as the "Time Lock" and defeat Mental in the past, thereby changing history in Humanity's favour. Sam "Serious" Stone is the (un)lucky man. Armed with only a head-implanted AI and a self-replenishing revolver, Serious Sam battles through ancient Egypt in order to save the universe from the impending threat.
Originally a Tech Demo Game created to promote the Serious Engine, the game was praised for being a well-made throwback to old-school shooters where the emphasis is on massacring enemy hordes instead of dueling small, smart squads. And when we say hordes, we mean hordes, especially in those nice open expanses where you truly get to appreciate how much opposition Sam's up against - and, consequently, how much of a badass he is.
The game had releases for Palm OS (developed by InterActive Vision and released by Global Star Software on November 12, 2001) as well as a Croteam-developed version for Xbox published by Gotham Games on November 12, 2002. In November 2009, Croteam released an HD remake called Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter. It features enhanced graphics, ragdoll physics, and various minor tweaks, but the gameplay is otherwise unchanged. Around the same time, the original was also released on Steam as Serious Sam Classic: The First Encounter, given as a bonus for getting the HD remake's "Gold Edition". In 2017 the game was remade for Virtual Reality as Serious Sam VR: The First Encounter; the game itself being based on the HD release.
Followed by Serious Sam: The Second Encounter.
Now I have some serious tropepower!
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The game has the "Memphis - Sewers" level, set between the "Memphis - Suburbs" and "City of Memphis - Metropolis" levels. As its name implies, it takes place in a ridiculously spatious sewer. In spite of its size, however, it has fewer enemies than the usual SS levels.
- Alliterative Name: About all the player characters available to choose for multiplayer modes.
- Anachronism Stew: On one hand, Sam has laser cannons and super-accurate miniguns, but on the other, he still totes around a Tommy Gun rechambered in 5.56mm, a pair of Smith & Wesson revolvers from 1875, and a giant technomagical cannon that looks straight out of the Age of Sail and fires huge explosive depleted uranium cannonballs at speeds defined by how long the fire button is held.
- Bilingual Bonus: Present in a stealth form. The word "Reeban" as in the Reeban fishes is pretty close in pronunciation to a Russian word "ryba", which means "fish". Ditto for the Peelah chainsaw.
- Booby Trap:
- Many items spawn enemies. Most notably, optional pills and small armor shards often trigger ambushes.
- In the Oasis level, there are two health pills. Grabbing one of them causes a large Biomechanoid to spawn right next to you. The other plays the 'monster spawn' sound dozens of times at maximum volume to freak you out.
- Of all the secret areas in the game, maybe a third of them are traps which spawn hordes of nasties right next to you.
- Border Patrol: The game makes you slowly lose health and burn in the sun if you go too far out of open area levels (except for the Dunes, where you're just tossed back into the center of the map).
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: There's a secret in the very first level. Find the secret Rocket Launcher, use it to blow up a door, and you find caricatures of Croteam. Unfortunately, at least in the original, if you want to achieve 100% Completion, you have to kill them.
- Chainsaw Good: The Xbox version includes one. Useful against Gnaars and Marsh Hoppers and even Kleer Skeletons due to its significant range.
- Charged Attack: The Grenade Launcher and the SBC Cannon.
- Crate Expectations: The massive crate pyramid in the last secret level.
- Deadly Dodging: One of the doors in the Karnak level requires dodging one of those werebulls at the very last second so it can collide with the door and break it.
- Developers' Foresight:
- Right before obtaining the Minigun in the City of Memphis, you come across a drawbridge over a pit of spikes. To cross it, you have to jump on it the moment the second incoming Werebull tries to run over it. Shortly after, you have to face a seemingly neverending stream of Kleer Skeletons. The drawbridge won't open now for your retreat, sandwiching you between the spikes and the horde. You can still rocket-jump over the pit and fire away at the hapless Kleers on the other side for about 15 seconds, then the drawbridge opens again without warning.
- If you kill all the Werebulls the game keeps throwing at you in Karnak when you need one of them to destroy that door, the game will allow you to just use the button to open that door once you're finished.
- Difficulty Levels:
- Tourist difficulty is god mode in anything but name, while Serious, especially with extra co-op enemies, may include FPS hell elements and may leave you wondering if it can be completed without god mode or not.
- In Mental mode, enemies will periodically become invisible even when they enter into melee. And you will still run out of ammo long before you have killed all the mobs. Good luck with that.
- Disc-One Nuke: The Rocket Launcher, found at the very start of the game if you take your time to explore the first level.
- Dual Wielding:
- Sam can wield two Colts by finding an extra one.
- The VR version allows Sam to dual wield any weapon and even mix and match them.
- Emergency Weapon: The melee Military Knife and the ranged Schofields pistol, which can be dual wielded if Sam finds another one.
- Every 10,000 Points: It's a rare example of seeing it in a first-person shooter, especially in a series made after the year 2000. Getting high scores in the Xbox version will award you extra lives.
- Hard Mode Perks: In the Classic title, you can carry twice as much ammo in Serious mode.
- I Call It "Vera": Sam's dual Shofield .45's are named "Smith" and "Wesson".
- Invisible Wall: There are invisible teleporters or jump pads which would lead back to area or nothing at all.
- It's Quiet Too Quiet: Entering the Temple of Thutmose in Sand Canyon prompts a message from NETRISCA that "It is too quiet".
- Leap of Faith: The black wall in one of the Egyptian tombs in TFE.
- Magitek: The Shofields that Sam wields are "technomagically" enhanced to have unlimited ammo. The Cannon is also a "technomagical" weapon.
- Marathon Level: "The Great Pyramid", "Karnak" and "Metropolis".
- Missing Secret:
- The demo level has a broken secret which was fixed or removed in the full game. However, if you play the same level in co-op, there is a secret that becomes unreachable because it closes before the first player can act.
- Tourist and Easy difficulties disabling weapon self-damage and self-knockback results in one secret becoming inaccessible due to requiring rocket-jumping to reach.
- The level "Dunes" in the PC version of Serious Sam Classics: Revolution has a spawner that takes 27 hours, 46 minutes, and 40 seconds to spawn an enemy. Or at least it used to. After Omgarrett uploaded a video that proved it, one of the developers said in the comments that it would be fixed.
- No-Gear Level: Sam loses most of the ammo at the beginning of "Alley of the Sphinxes", save shotgun shells and cannonballs. Handwaved by having Sam being forced to drop the ammo due to weight in the desert in the level's introduction message. The Xbox port even disallows Sam to ride on a magic surfboard should only he arrive on the Alley.
- Oh, Crap!: Sam kills a lone Kamikaze and snarks at it, only to hear a horde of them coming just over a nearby hill.
- Sam: Uh oh.
- One Bullet Clips: The revolvers, though they can't be manually reloaded.
- 1-Up: One of the pickups in the XBOX version.
- Rage Against the Author: 100% Completion of at least one stage requires you to murder caricatures of the Croteam staff, at least in the original games.
- Recurring Riff: A certain riff plays during the Oasis and Metropolis peace themes.
- Regenerating Health: Inverted in the Xbox version where Sam's health and/or armor would drop if it exceed 100.
- Retro Upgrade: In addition to the Cannon, it's stated that the M1928 Tommy Gun were yanked out of mothballs and refitted to the more modern 5.56 to fight against Mental's hordes.
- Rope Bridge: There's one in a level. If you complete a specific task in this level, you'll be able to cross it and access a hidden level. Otherwise, it will snap and take you to the next regular level.
- Schizophrenic Difficulty: In the harder difficulty settings, "Dunes", "Metropolis", "Alley of the Sphinxes", and "Karnak" are more challenging than rest of the levels.
- Schmuck Bait: Not disabling some traps end up with Sam getting a Cruel and Unusual Death at certain points.
- Shared Life Meter: At certain points, Sam is locked in an arena and massive amounts of enemies (mostly Marsh Hoppers) that have to be killed are hurled at him, using a boss life meter to gauge the player's progress.
- Shifting Sand Land: With the game taking place in ancient Egypt, this is to be expected. Most notably the "Dunes" level.
- Tech Demo Game: One of the reasons The First Encounter ever exists is to show off the capabilities of the Serious Engine.
- Updated Re-release: So far the game was subjected to the HD (in order to show the capabilities of the Serious Engine 3), VR (as a free-movement alternative to The Last Hope) and Fusion treatment (which not only shows the capabilities of the Serious Engine 4, but also unifies it with Serious Sam: The Second Encounter in a single game).