Review – Serious Sam 4 (PS5)
I won’t lie, I was cautiously optimistic before tackling the PlayStation 5 version of Serious Sam 4. Our colleague, Jordan, may have had a harsh time with original PC release, citing its many performance issues and glitches, but I thought that Croteam would have used its extra year of development time to fix these issues prior to releasing the game onto next-gen platforms. We’ve seen what the PS5 and the Xbox Series X are capable of with shooters such as Halo Infinite and Deathloop, so there was hope.
I was wrong.
Namely, everything that was wrong with the original version of Serious Sam 4 is present in this PlayStation 5 port. Some of them were inevitable, such as the really poor level design, underwhelming voice acting, and terrible upgrade system (you need to unlock the ability to collect ammo from dead enemies? For real?). You wouldn’t be able to fix those without completely remaking the game’s structure from scratch, so I can almost ignore them. Or at least not feel utterly irritated when witnessing them. Every other problem featured in this port, however, is inexcusable.
Remember how bad the performance was in the PC version of Serious Sam 4? We reviewed the game on a very beefy PC, and even then it struggled to maintain a decent framerate. The performance was basically tied to the amount of enemies onscreen: the more of them at any given moment, the worse the framerate would get. Since Serious Sam 4 is all about shoving the screen with as many braindead goons a graphics card can handle, it ran poorly even on the fanciest of configurations. I would say it runs even worse on the PlayStation 5.
The game occasionally runs at 60fps on Performance Mode (I was legit scared of playing it on Visual Mode to notice the difference), but the framerate would eventually tank the moment more than five or six enemies appeared onscreen. I can count the amount of times only a few non-boss enemies are thrown onto you during a combat section, so you can already imagine the outcome: Serious Sam 4 runs poorly on the PS5. That introductory cutscene which puts you against literally a thousand enemies at once, that damn thing was running at a framerate that made Ocarina of Time feel like Doom Eternal in comparison.
The game isn’t exactly hideous, but next-gen this is not. I like the environments, to be fair. Maps are somewhat detailed and colorful. The enemy designs are simplistic, but not hideous, either. The human characters, on the other hand, dear lord. Think of the most basic human models you can grab from an Unreal asset pack, with the most robotic of animations, and little to no facial expressions. Things only got worse after testing the Matrix tech demo running on Unreal Engine 5, with its Metahuman models. Serious Sam 4 is barely more than a year old, and it’s already beyond dated.
The gameplay is obviously hindered by the poor framerate, but I was also disappointed to find out that Croteam simply did not include any feature from the DualSense into the overall package. No adaptive triggers, no smart rumble effects, no radio chatter coming from the speakers. Nothing. Not only is the aiming poor and the weapons somewhat underwhelming (not to mention the overreliance on forcing you to use a shotgun against enemies located far from you), but the game didn’t include any feature that justified its existence on a next-gen platform.
Sadly, as expected, this PS5 version of Serious Sam was a disappointment. There is a really fun shooter buried underneath this pile of glitches, framerate issues and boring story-driven sections, but it’s nigh impossible to overlook all of those setbacks. If you really want to have some dumb fun with our favorite thrift shop Duke Nukem impersonator, there is a much better option out in the wild. Grab the Serious Sam Collection for PS4 or Xbox One, and enjoy a handful of silly shooters that might be dated, but run decently at the very least.
Actually pretty environments clash horribly with the terrible character models and the fact the framerate is a complete mess, especially when there are tons of enemies onscreen. Spoiler alert: that’s almost always.
Shooting at hordes of aliens will always be fun, but the framerate issues really hinder the experience. Not to mention the fact this PS5 port of Serious Sam 4 doesn’t use any of the DualSense’s excellent features.
There are occasional sections where the music ramps up and sounds huge, making these combat bits sound way more epic than they should. Sam himself is well-voiced, but the same cannot be said about the borderline amateurish voice acting shared by almost every single NPC in the game.
Fun Factor: 5.0
There is a really fun shooter buried underneath this pile of glitches, framerate issues and boring story-driven sections, but it’s nigh impossible to overlook all of those setbacks. I’d stick to the Serious Sam Collection instead.
Final Verdict: 5.0
Serious Sam 4 is available now on PS5, Xbox Series S/X, and PC.
Reviewed on PS5.
A copy of Serious Sam 4 was provided by the publisher.