Review: The Serious Sam Collection

The Serious Sam videogames have never been considered top tier productions. Despite being highlights of their respective eras for the core demographic they’ve never managed to capture the attention of the wider audience in the same way as Duke Nukem 3D, Quake, or in these modern times, any number of pseudo realistic military first-person shooters (FPS). This is a shame, as while the series has never been pushing for mental stimulation its most certainly delivered uncomplicated itchy trigger finger fun with every new instalment.

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Thankfully, The Serious Sam Collection packs plenty of this international blastathon content onto a single disc. Featuring three of the bloodline FPS releases (stopping short of including Serious Sam II for a complete collection) as well as the downloadable content (DLC) for the most recent release and an indie spin-off title, no one could argue that The Serious Sam Collection isn’t a generous software bundle. In fact, so munificent is it that the last Xbox 360 retail release, Serious Sam HD: The First and Second Encounters, looks paltry by comparison.

The Serious Sam videogames are about shooting. Always have been, always will be. There are no logical puzzles to solve, no questionably morality or struggle to decipher exactly who are the good guys: there’s a big load of guns and an even bigger load of things to shoot. It’s beautiful in its simplicity, but in the same regard gamers who have climbed up through the ranks on more modern titles may argue that the gameplay is a little one-dimensional. Serious Sam isn’t for everyone, then, but gamers who are looking for a no nonsense action affair need look no further.

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The high-definition (HD) renditions of the first two Serious Sam titles, Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter and Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter are just that: HD makeovers of retro titles. Even at the time of their launch neither of these videogames could’ve been considered revolutionary, but they were hugely enjoyable action experiences and remain as such to this day. They’re videogames which have a fondness about them for those who remember their first time, but of course it’s Serious Sam 3: BFE that has got most of the attention in recent years.

And rightly so, as Serious Sam 3: BFE takes the gameplay formula of the original titles and distils it into a modern design template. There are still open areas and swarms of enemies to kill, but it’s dressed-up in a more guided level design and realistic locations. Gone are the endless flat planes and ludicrously steep inclines, here is downtown decay and believably age ravished historical landmarks. Of course, throughout all of it the core fundamental of a Serious Sam videogame remains: get a gun and shoot anything that moves.

The same can be said of Serious Sam: Double D XXL, one of three indie titles developed in the run up to the original PC launch of Serious Sam 3: BFE, and the only one to have made it to Xbox 360. All of the guiding principles of Serious Sam have made their way into this 2D side-scrolling: co-operative madcap shooting. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable distraction that perfectly compliments the headline acts in this retail collection, rounding out a selection of software that is essential for any true action videogame fan.

Score: 8

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