After being spoiled by the likes of Halo 4, BioShock Infinite and Call Of Duty: Black Ops II, most trigger-happy gamers have now come to expect drama, depth and substance from their explosive escapades. But for anyone who fancies a blast from the past – when mindless murder was the order of the day and cerebral engagement was discouraged in console shooters circa 2000 – The Serious Sam Collection is a delirious evocation of the glory days of dumbass shoot ’em ups.
A bargain-priced package that contains full versions of Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter, Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter, Serious Sam 3: BFE and the Jewel Of The Nile download, The Serious Sam collection is the perfect way to catch up on the wise-cracking meathead’s battle against space aliens. And while the game’s relentless, balls-out blasting feels dated compared to today’s more strategic shooters – and the ludicrous, gleefully offensive plots make Sam feel like the product of a bygone era – there’s still an hysterical joy in disengaging your brain and raining hot lead on a gruesome parade of off-world bully-boys. And as all the FPS outings in this budget compilation are presented in glorious high-definition, even those who battled their way through Sam’s adventures in the noughties will relish re-treading old ground.
Best of all for long-time fans, though, is the bonus spin-off Serious Sam Double D XXL, an indie-developed, side-scrolling shooter that originally appeared on Xbox Live Arcade. And while Double D XXL’s jumping action is absurdly basic when compared to more accomplished XBLA platformers, the ability to stack guns allows players to unleash waves of deadly missiles that can lay waste to screen after screen of alien scumbags.
Outdated? Yes. Repetitive? Definitely. Distasteful? Sometimes. But while Serious Sam fails to deliver anything blasting fans haven’t seen a million times before, the series’ deranged set-pieces, demented gunplay and meritorious ‘don’t give a damn’ attitude make it feel oddly fresh in a oversaturated genre where many developers have forgotten that shooting things ought to be fun.
Reviewed by David McComb