Review – Serious Sam Collection (Switch)
Serious Sam 4 was released earlier on this year and sadly, it didn’t exactly live up to the hype. It felt rushed, somewhat unifinished and uninspired. Moreover, that game is currently only available on PC and… Stadia, of all systems. Console owners craving for a Serious Sam experience on current-gen platforms have apparently been left out in the cold. At least, that’s what I used to think up until I found out Devolver and Croteam were stealth releasing a neat collection featuring all of Sam’s previous mainline adventures in one very affordable package. It’s even coming out on the Switch! I just had to find out how well the Serious Sam Collection on Nintendo’s portable system.
The Serious Sam games might initially look like heirs to the Doom and Quake throne, but they feature unique elements that make them stand out among their contemporaries. They aren’t as focused on exploration as these other franchises, being a lot more about blasting as many enemies your CPU can handle onscreen at once. It is combat-oriented, first and foremost. It also takes inspiration from the Duke Nukem games, as its protagonist is also an uber macho loudmouth. However, unlike the imbecile voiced by Austin St. John, the titular Sam isn’t as annoying or dimwitted. Dare I say, he is actually occasionally funny with how cynical he is. Gotta love sarcastic humor. I’m a child of the 90’s, after all…
The Serious Sam Collection features the first three games in the franchise, The First Encounter, The Second Encounter, and the widely controversial Serious Sam 3: BFE. It also features The Legend of the Beast and The Jewel of the Nile, DLC expansions for Second Encounter and Serious Sam 3, respectively. It’s a meaty compilation of content being sold at a very affordable price. In terms of bang for your buck, it’s a no-brainer. Not to mention the fact that, for the most part, they hold up due to how simple their gameplay is. Those games are mostly about killing aliens and racking up a huge amount of points, a perfect fit for a portable.
The First Encounter and The Second Encounter are the collection’s highlights. Sure, they look at bit dated, even with the inclusion of new textures and widescreen support, but they run well on the system. The framerate is always at a constant 60fps, even when ten suicidal bombers run towards you at once. I have little to complain about these two games, as well as its expansion. They are a jewel of their time. Simpler, but highly entertaining shooters that ditch depth and storytelling in favor of mindless carnage and fun.
The same cannot be said about Serious Sam 3, however…
Fans don’t like Serious Sam 3 that much. I never knew why. It looked like a natural progression for the series. This one was the last game I played in the collection, and boy, was I wrong. I get why people don’t like it at all. Instead of trying to be a dumb, loud, and unapologetic shooter, Serious Sam 3 feels more like a wannabe desperately trying to ride on Call of Duty‘s coattails. I did not like its heavier approach to serious storytelling, its reliance on iron sights, and most importantly, its slow progression system. It takes ages for you to actually unlock weapons in here. You don’t even start off with a gun, or even a melee weapon for that matter!
What really disappointed me, however, was how poorly this game ran on the Switch. The framerate would easily drop to single digits whenever there was too much action onscreen. The overall color palette is also very drab and the resolution is quite low. It just wasn’t optimized well enough for said hardware, even if the game was originally released on much weaker consoles. What boggles me is that, for some reason, there is a performance mode that can be toggled on and off in the options menu, but it didn’t help that much. The game became a bit uglier and just a tiny bit clunkier.
The first two games might have aged a bit and Serious Sam 3 is nowhere near as entertaining as the other two. But all in all, the Serious Sam Collection is a worthy addition to your Switch library if you’re looking for some FPS action on-the-go. Their arcade-like mentality, insane action, decent performance (SS3 aside, of course) and short levels are actually a perfect fit for a portable system. Not to mention that this compilation offers an astonishing amount of bang for your buck when you stop and think about it.
The first two Serious Sam games are quite old, but their art style holds up. They also run phenomenally well. Serious Sam 3 runs poorly and looks quite drab, despite being a more recent game.
Retro-styled FPS action with an emphasis on racking up a big score. Serious Sam 3‘s Call of Duty-ish control scheme isn’t suited for this style of gameplay, however. Not to mention its poor framerate.
Some decent metal tunes included in each game’s soundtrack, as well as Duke Nukem-inspired macho quips. They aren’t as irritating as Duke’s one-liners, thankfully enough.
Fun Factor: 8.0
As you can see by reading the other score boxes, everything related to the first two Serious Sam games holds up. They are a blast on a portable. The same cannot be said about the dated and unfocused Serious Sam 3.
Final Verdict: 7.5
Serious Sam Collection is available now on PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of Serious Sam Collection was provided by the publisher.