Serious Sam: The First Encounter takes place in Ancient Egypt and features large-scale battles against many enemies. The levels are linear and cannot be traveled back to once completed, but there are secrets hidden throughout levels, which either contain weapons and ammo, a power up, more enemies, something funny, or a combination of them. Most levels are broken up into a distinct pattern; large arena featuring many monsters and items to signify the end of a wave, then a “break” room or area that has items and/or smaller amounts of enemies for the player to catch their breath in while still being challenged and having fun. They then enter a new arena, and it continues until the level ends.
TFE features a scoring system that gives you points for each enemy you kill. The points given usually depends on the strength and difficulty of an enemy killed; the Beheaded Rocketeer, the weakest and easiest enemy to kill in the game, gives away only 100 points when killed, while the Major Biomechanoid, a large enemy with a lot of health and rockets that can kill someone with 100 or less health in one shot if their rockets directly impact the player, will give the player 8,000 points when killed. There are also bonuses for completing a level under the par amount of time listed in the statistics screen.
Hints and information about weapons and enemies are given to the player via NETRICSA, a computer built into Sam's skull. The game will occasionally have a message pop up, usually when a new area is entered, a new enemy is killed or a new weapon is picked up, for the player to read the computer's analysis of the new thing. Important tips are often contained in messages from NETRICSA (such as what to do in a room), so they player should consult it often.
Weapons are varied, but never become truly obsolete. The Schofield .45 works well against weak enemies because of its low power, decent rate of fire, and infinite ammo; the XPML21 Rocket Launcher is devastating against enemies at medium range and enemies with a lot of health, the XM-214-A Minigun is useful against everything because of its extremely high rate of fire, while the SBC Cannon is the ultimate weapon against multiple enemies, because it can pierce multiple enemies while traveling, and against strong enemies because its projectiles can be charged up.
Various items and power ups are scattered throughout levels. Various types of armor appear throughout levels, which absorb a certain amount of damage from enemy attacks when picked up, backpacks filled with ammo are usually placed near areas where there's going to be a huge fight, and various health pickups are scattered throughout levels for the player to recover lost health.
The First Encounter's only offline game mode is the campaign. The player must travel through Ancient Egypt-themed levels while fighting off enemies. After defeating the final boss, they win. Offline also features split-screen, which lets up to four people play the game's multiplayer modes in one PC.
Online contains more content. The most prominent online game mode is cooperative, which lets up to 16 people play through the campaign online. Functions such as the amount of re-spawns, enemy health and extra co-op enemies can be modified before starting a game. There are also two competitive modes; death-match and score-match. Death-match is the usual Quake-style death-match, but Score-match is different; everything the player does in a Score-match (pick up items, kill someone, etc) will give them points. However, they will lose points if they are killed. The person that either reaches the score limit or has the most points at the end of the time limit wins. These can also be played in offline mode's split-screen mode.
Serious Sam: The First Encounter first started development in 1996 as a game called In the Flesh. The idea was to combine modern graphics with Doom's frantic, enemy horde-themed gameplay. The development went on and off because the early Croteam consisted of university students and the occasional person drafted into the military.
In the Flesh became Serious Sam in 1998, when Roman Ribarić, Croteam's CEO “received a vision” that told them to rename In the Flesh into “Serious Sam”. Most of the developers quickly complied. Development continued as normal, despite the name change.
TFE was little-known until the very end of May 2000, when Test 1 was released. It was designed to help Croteam test Serious Sam on hardware. The test originally came out with little fanfare, but the classic gameplay and graphics quickly made it a hit among PC gamers. Two weeks later, the satirical video game website Old Man Murray had an interview with Croteam where they discussed such issues inculding an alleged Anti-American Croat conspiracy, then-Croatian president Franjo Tuđman's Nazi sympathies, and Croteam's CEO thinking the word “crate” means “vehicle”.
In October 2000, Test 2 was released, again to test Serious Sam with different PC setups they couldn't get their hands on. This version was much closer to the final game; it had co-op and death-match as well as the final skins and models for every enemy in it.
In March 2001, Serious Sam: The First Encounter was released to wide acclaim. The game became a huge success and received multiple awards, including one from IGN, partially because of its $20 USD price tag. In March 2002, an expansion pack, Serious Sam: The Second Encounter was released. A few years later, both games were bundled into one package named Serious Sam Gold.
In September 2009, a Serious Sam HD remake of the game was made. Almost every enemy and weapon received a new model, and many textures were either replaced with new ones or stretched out versions of old ones. Effects and lighting were greatly improved, thanks to it using Serious Engine 3.
In the near future, humanity has discovered advanced technology in Egypt which allowed humans to travel across deep space with ease. These items are from the Sirians, an extinct species that were quite similar to humans. However, they were wiped out by a mysterious being called Chaad Sheen, who apparently appeared in the universe in order to wipe out all intelligent life once every 100,000 years. Humanity ignored the Sirian's warnings about Chaad Sheen and traveled through the universe with technology based on a Sirian spaceship parked on one of Jupiter's moons; the USS Centerpiece.
While exploring Sirius, Serious Sam discovered a large asteroid belt surrounding the planet that was never mentioned in the old Sirian records. He decided to go through it, which is actually an ancient alarm system for Chaad Sheen, because he wasn't sure that he destroyed ALL intelligent life in the universe back when he killed the Sirians, so he left the alarm system just in case. After being woken up, Chaad Sheen manages to defeat the humans, one battle after another. His power and craziness earns him the name Mental. One of the heroes during these battles is Serious Sam, who constantly and ruthlessly fights off every alien he encounters.
After many battles, humanity is now doomed. Mental's forces are invading Earth; humanity's last stronghold, and there's no way to stop him. One of the scientists points out that a time-traveling device called the Time-Lock was found in the Sirian ruins. It turns out the machine was last used in Ancient Egypt, which would be when Mental was finishing off the Sirians. A plan is devised; using the Time-Lock, someone journeys back in time, summons the USS Centerpiece, flies to parts of Sirius' old trading routes, then uses the ships there to sneak up on and fight Mental while he's busy fighting off the Sirians. He won't expect someone to fight him one on one while he's busy doing something else. Its a desperate plan, but humanity is all out of options. The person chosen to go through the Time-Lock is Serious Sam because of how he can easily go against hordes of monsters and survive.
However, as Serious Sam 3: BFE shows, getting to the Time-Lock isn't as easy as planned...
After the events of Serious Sam 3: BFE, Serious Sam ends up in the Temple of Hatshepsut and starts his journey to find the elements, which are the four keys to Karnak, which houses the only way to bring the USS Centerpiece to Earth. However, Mental, who has been finishing up the Sirians, is alerted to his presence and sends some of his forces to Earth in order to stop Sam. After collecting them, he enters Memphis and collects the Sign of Amon-Ra, which is vital to summoning the USS Centerpiece. He then travels to Karnak and enters it via placing the elements he had collected earlier in various slots.
Sam fights through Karnak, and ends up in Luxor. Within Luxor, he discovers a large obelisk, which hides a huge tower that broadcasts the message to bring back the USS Centerpiece when the Sign of Amon-Ra is near it. With the Centerpiece finally coming to Egypt, Sam hurries to The Great Pyramid, which is where the USS Centerpiece will stop at. However, one of Mental's most trusted admirals, Ugh-Zan III, appears and attempts to kill Sam while he's running to the Great Pyramid. Because Ugh-Zan III can regenerate his health, Sam just runs from him. Sam manages to enter the pyramid after a close encounter with Ugh-Zan III at the front of the pyramid, and prepares the ship for boarding by using the Sign of Amon-Ra. While there, his computer, NETRISCA, learns there's a catch with the USS Centerpiece; it will kill anyone that attempts to board it that is not a species authorized to use it. Since there's nothing else he can do at this point, Sam decides to try boarding it while hoping that the Sirians made humans an authorized species. He then takes an elevator to the top of the exposed pyramid, ready to try his luck with the USS Centerpiece. However, Ugh-Zan III scales the pyramid and attempts to stop Sam right before he's ready to board the ship. Sam manages to manipulate the ship's anti-intruder function by weakening Ugh-Zan III with his weapons, then luring him to the center of the boarding area, which is where one enters the USS Centerpiece. Ugh-Zan III's species is not authorized to use the ship, so the ship instead fired a very powerful laser at him, which managed to overwhelm and kill him before he could activate his regenerative abilities.
Right after Ugh-Zan III is killed, Sam runs into the middle of the boarding area, hoping that the ship has humans as an authorized species. It does, and Sam is warped into the ship. While living for Sirius' trade routes, Sam calls up Mental and lets him know that he has an “important package” he needs to deliver to Mental, and that it'll be coming soon. Serious Sam: The First Encounter ends here.
Behind the ScenesEdit
Serious Sam was to feature many more areas after Ancient Egypt, such as the Water Planet, the Lava Planet, Rock Planet. The original plan was to have the player fight off Mental at Sky City as well. However, sometime after June 2000, these areas were removed from the game and the game was restructured so that it'd end at The Great Pyramid. A page showing all of the scrapped areas can be found here.
There are also several enemies and weapons that were scrapped before the final game came out. Two aquatic enemies, the Fishman and Mantaman, a group of enemies called the Elementals, another flying enemy type, the Dragonman, a robot that was able to fly on a bike and fire lasers, the Cyborg, and a pair of enemies that would work together, the Mamut and Mamutman, were among the enemies scrapped before the final game came out. Scrapped weapons are the Ghost Buster, the Pipebomb, and the Flamer. The rest of the scrapped enemies can be found here. The storyline screenshoots weapons etc. is on the page Serious Sam The First Encounter Beta.