Serious Sam originally started as a PC title back in 2001; though its popularity saw the series make the conversion over to the Xbox Live Arcade nine years later. The four Serious Sam titles that have made the jump over to the Xbox 360 have been released at retail as part of The Serious Sam Collection.
The collection contains Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter, Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter, Serious Sam 3: BFE (plus the Jewel of the Nile downloadable content) and Serious Sam Double D XXL, all of which are usually priced at 800 Microsoft Points apiece.
Despite its name, Serious Sam is not a title that should be taken seriously. For those alien to the game, Serious Sam is a first-person shooter (with options to make it into a third-person shooter), which sees protagonist Sam “Serious” Stone fight against the extra-terrestrial overlord Mental – who is out to destroy humanity.
For those unfamiliar with the series, each of the four titles (which have been remade especially for the Xbox Live Arcade in high definition) sees Sam defeating enemies such as headless kamikaze men, skeletons and golems, using a range of weapons to do so. It’s simply a case of shooting every in sight – something that makes the title stand out from the range of shooters already available.
The collection’s first offering is Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter – a fully re-mastered version of the 2001 title. Although it doesn’t provide any versus multiplayer, there’s a reasonably lengthy campaign that can be played in single player and co-operative mode over Xbox Live.
Similarly to its predecessor, Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter also contains a single player campaign, with support for co-operative play over Xbox Live. In addition, the second title in the series contains versus multiplayer for up to eight players. The multiplayer game modes include: Beast Hunt (a competitive version of standard co-op gameplay), Capture The Flag, Deathmatch, Instant Kill, Last Man Standing, Last Team Standing, My Burden, Team Beast Hunt and Team Deathmatch.
Unfortunately, due to the fact it has been three years since the title was first available on the Xbox Live Arcade, the online community is almost non-existent. Nevertheless, on the rare occasion that players manage to get into a game, it can be an enjoyable, often frantic experience.
Serious Sam 3: BFE (Before the First Encounter) is arguably the strongest title in the collection and (as the name suggests) is a prequel to Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter. The game contains a single player campaign and multiplayer over Xbox Live, though unlike its predecessors, also adds split-screen options.
The inclusion of the Jewel of the Nile downloadable content in the collection makes this the lengthiest in the collection. However, the game suffers with some pretty lengthy loading times.
Finally, Serious Sam Double D XXL is a change in pace for the collection. The 2D side-scrolling shooter allows players to stack guns and defeat enemy after enemy after enemy. Whereas it’s a thoroughly enjoyable and crazy title, it’s the weakest inclusion in the collection, mostly due to the more noticeable repetitive nature of the game.
Graphically, the majority of the titles in The Serious Sam Collection are fairly impressive and are easily comparable to some earlier Xbox 360 titles. The only exception is Serious Sam Double D XXL, which manages to capture a retro-esque looks and feel, despite being a 2013 release. As for audio, the repetitive lines of dialogue and looping soundtrack throughout all four titles will have gamers reaching for the mute button on their television remote.
Overall, The Serious Sam Collection contains a great set of Xbox Live Arcade titles that will keep gamers occupied through the summer drought. This bundle is a must purchase for Serious Sam fans who don’t own all the titles, and definitely one for all gamers to consider.