Publisher: Devolver Digital
Reviewed on: PS4
Also available on: Xbox One, Windows PC
Release: 17 November 2020
Serious Sam has been given the collection treatment by Devolver Digital by releasing the Serious Sam Collection which encompasses the three mainline entries plus two DLC expansions. These games essentially have you dive into the midst of a time-travelling alien invasion.
To start off, all of the titles are essentially an upscale of the originals to 1080p resolution. They aren’t full remasters but the increase in resolution does arguably make them the best that they can look. Since most of these games released in the early to mid-2000s, they can obviously feel a bit dated playing them in 2020 but on the PS4, they run incredibly smoothly and would only ever be out performed by a PC version. The fact that the performance is well executed allows the best chance for the games to be enjoyed by new players since many games these days, old and new, tend to run at 30-60 fps and 1080p or 4K.
All three of the main entries carry a playful sense of an over-the-top personality that you’d find in an action flick. The explosions, the death, the dismemberment all come together to create an enjoyable, albeit mindless, experience to fight through. No matter how old these games may feel, the act of briskly mowing down monsters in a first-person shooter will always feel timeless to me. It’s also nice to see another set of games that aren’t beholden to taking things too seriously, despite what the name may suggest.
The crux of the gameplay is to face off against wave after wave of enemies and Sam, often armed with a meaty shotgun and a sarcastic grit, has to slay his way to the end of an alien invasion. You’re tasked with making your way through a number of relatively short levels in each game. They can feel a little repetitive at times but most of the levels can also feel dungeon-like and are packed with secrets and extra rooms. These rooms are only usually filled with health and ammo but they’re still nice to stumble upon amongst all the action.
The variety of enemies to tackle is quite pleasing to see. You’ll notice monsters that’ll range from little bouncy critters to massive lava blobs that’ll inevitably try to block your path. Some enemies will try to charge at you at speed and others will spawn and stay as far away as possible to try and knock you down from a distance. Among these enemy types, you’ll also see a smattering of brutes that’ll do some serious damage if they get too close. You’ll also frequently come across these screaming bombers that will explode on proximity to you which is often met with a quip from Sam. The enemy variety that’s established in the first game doesn’t quite change through the other instalments, but there are enough types present to keep you on your toes as many of them have different levels of health or need to be defeated in different way.
The weapons you obtain progressively increase in damage capability while also appearing right when the situation calls for it. The first time you obtain the sniper rifle, you’re immediately thrown into a skirmish with some sniper enemies on a cliff or a hill in the distance. Other weapons such as the dual revolvers and the double-barrel shotgun will greet you with a particularly large wave of brutes to vanquish with your new tools. The array of weapons in these games really keeps things fresh and gives enough of a choice as to which weapon to choose for every situation.
The music and sound design overall does the job of selling the atmosphere but from a musical standpoint, it can often feel short and repetitive to the point of being taken out of the immersion a little and wondering if you’re hearing a broken record. The ambient sounds are where these games really shine. The tropical levels feature a nice library of birds, leaves in the wind and falling rocks. In a destroyed city environment you may hear the faint surrounding sounds of fire and explosions. All of these sounds work to keep you engaged in the world you’re occupying and still holds up to this day.
It’s always nice play a set of titles that are built on strong core mechanics and are able to hold up with only a minor graphical punch up needed. For the time that these games came out, they still remain as mindless fun to enjoy for hours on end.
This collection won’t blow you away from a narrative point of view and it never really reinvented any aspect of the craft but it’s still a great amount of fun and at the end of the day, isn’t that all that games are meant to be?