Serious Sam: The First Encounter

Developed in Croatia by Croteam
Published by Gathering of Developers
Released in 2001 for the PC

While largely a parody of the parody presented in 1996’s Duke Nukem 3D, Serious Sam: The First Encounter actually provides the antithesis of run-and-gun shooting as demonstrated in Duke, Doom, Quake, and others. Where those games used abstract level design to increase the possible range of interesting and challenging situations, Serious Sam forfeits level design in favor of large monster counts, whose simple artificial intelligence generates erratic patterns that the player must react to intuitively. And after mastering the art of defense, the player can pursue the goal of killing monsters as fast and as efficiently as possible. While the lack of level design limits the complexity of the on-screen action and graphical fidelity is replaced by high monster counts, it would be safe to say that Serious Sam does shooting as well as any game in its genre, past or present.

★★★★