Croatian developers Croteam first introduced us to their series protagonist, Sam “Serious” Stone, back in 2001. It’s hard to believe he’s been around for over 12 years and if you’re a fan of First-Person Shooter games then there’s a good chance you’ve already bought or played some of the Serious Sam games. We’ve been spending some time with their latest disc based release – The Serious Sam Collection on Xbox 360.
The Serious Sam Collection features an impressive amount of content. The disc contains Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter, Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter, Serious Sam 3 BFE plus the Jewel of the Nile DLC and finally Serious Sam Double D XXL. If you’re a fan of the games and already own these all separately there isn’t really anything new here for you. However fans new to the series or those who haven’t played most of these games are in for a treat.
Upon running the disc in your console you are presented with a simple menu to choose which of the included games you would like to play. If you haven’t played the First or Second Encounters since they were originally released then it’s worth stressing that these are the upgraded HD editions. They were rebuilt on the Serious Engine 3 which went on to power the more recent Serious Sam 3 BFE. The upgraded graphics really helps prevent the games feeling as old as they are.
In Serious Sam: The First Encounter you are introduced to the Serious Sam universe. In ancient times Earth was involved in a conflict between an alien race called the Sirians and an evil extra-terrestrial named Mental. The game starts in the 22nd century where Mental has returned to destroy the Human Race. Sam is sent back in time, using a Sirian device called the Time-Lock, on a mission to change the course of history by defeating Mental.
The game is continued into the Second Encounter and during the missions Sam gets to travel across Ancient Egypt, South America, Mesopotamia and medieval Europe. It all sounds rather complex but it’s really nothing more than an excuse for Sam to do battle with Mental’s seemingly endless minions. Also despite the Serious name and serious sounding plot the game is anything but serious with crazy impossible enemies, hilarious one-liners from Sam and laugh out loud moments throughout.
Combat in Serious Sam is relentless but entertaining and plays more like games such as Doom, Quake and Painkiller. Staying alive is all about being aware of what is around you, constant movement and circle-strafing. To take out the endless hordes Sam packs a serious arsenal of weapons that includes pistols, rocket launches, shotguns, a giant cannon, knife and even a chainsaw.
Serious Sam 3 BFE acts as a prequel to the first game and depicts the events that took place before Sam travelled to the past. The game actually plays a lot like the two encounters with plenty of classic enemies present. There’s some new gameplay mechanics such as iron sights on weapons for increased accuracy and Sam can also now sprint. The biggest draw to BFE though is the much upgraded graphics which look lovely. The included DLC pack extends the game further with a lengthy new campaign.
The final game is Serious Sam Double D XXL which was one of several Serious Sam indie developed titles. The game is developed by Mommy’s Best Games and takes inspiration from the other games. Instead of being another FPS though Double D is a side-scrolling twin-stick platform shooter.
It’s an enhanced version of the original PC release that previously came to XBLA. The platforming action is rather basic but the shooting is solid. Despite the change of viewpoint it does an impressive job of feeling like a Serious Sam game. The classic enemies and guns are all here but the standout feature is the gun-stacking ability.
Gun-stacking lets you create your own perfect loadout of stacked guns. This allows you to do things like stack a shotgun and tommy gun onto a pistol for crazy damage. The game requires you to do this in order to survive the large waves of enemies that attack. It’s a fun distraction with some great boss fights but most players will probably stick to the FPS games.
As entertaining as the different games are they do feel a little outdated, compared to more recent titles, and do get very repetitive. In addition to the single-player components the Serious Sam games all feature a variety of co-op and multiplayer modes. Co-op supports 2-4 players and online multiplayer features 2-8 players. These modes are fun and help extend the life of the game.
The Serious Sam Collection is well worth the money for newcomers but there isn’t anything special here for dedicated Serious Sam fans. If you enjoy old school shooters and haven’t played these games before then you should definitely consider picking it up. Even if you own some of the games it’s great to have them all together on a single disc if you prefer physical media to digital. This release is also a nice way to support the developers who are currently hard at work on Serious Sam 4 which is due next year.