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The Serious Sam Collection Review

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It’s been about 12 years since Serious Sam first hit the scene. Serious Sam is a game that dazzled thousands with its frantic, relentless, manic, monster-explodey, non-stop action. Several years in the spotlight have gifted Sam with two HD remakes, a sequel, and a new sidescrolling shooter. Well now there’s one shiny box that contains them all. That’s right, The Serious Sam Collection is currently available for Xbox 360 consoles around the globe.

This amazing bundle comes with Serious Sam HD: 1st Encounter, Serious Sam HD: 2nd Encounter, Serious Sam 3: BFE, Serious Sam 3’s Jewel of the Nile DLC pack, and Serious Sam Double D XXL. These four well received games and a DLC pack at a nifty little discounted price. Well, we’ve got four games to talk about here, better hope straight to it. Let’s start from the…start.

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Serious Sam is a game about Sam “Serious” Stone and his efforts to defeat the alien scourge terrorising Earth’s past. Now that is just about as much story as you’ll get in this game. Much like Painkiller: Hell & Damnation, you’re dropped into rough terrain with a huge arsenal of weaponry, and you have thousands upon thousands of enemies thrown at you until you can’t stand it.

Now the gameplay, the enemies, the level design remains completely unchanged from the 2001 iteration. Quite frankly, the game is completely simplistic. Again, exactly like Painkiller. Serious Sam is an obvious homage to other games from its time such as Doom and Duke Nukem. Put simply, it’s all about racking up a Saving Private Ryan-esque body count rather than attempting to reach any kind of objective.

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The entire game takes place in what resembles the deserts of ancient Egypt. The lack of a change of setting does nothing to distract from the fact that the game is completely mindless and repetitive. Now this is not to say that it is a bad game, not at all. It can actually get quite deep once you discover what kind of enemy you’re going up against. Different kinds of aliens have different weaknesses that are all exploited by various weapons, and you will be going up against all different kinds, at one time. So it’s safe to say that some form of strategy definitely needs to be employed in order to become victorious. There is also another form of strategy that can be used to take down different hordes of aliens at any one time. Online co-op! That’s right, online cooperative play has been the saviour of many games, and it is what makes some games so damn playable. But then again, there really isn’t any challenge to the co-op. The game will merely send more monsters at you, and you respawn immediately after you die with no penalty. So it’s just as mindless and repetitive as playing by yourself. But hey, at least you get to have fun with friends.

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Let’s get to the graphics. This is called Serious Sam HD, after all. This isn’t just an updated ratio or a new fancy layer of paint. This is an actual HD remake. That means new character models and environments. As well as brand new environmental effects all powered by the Serious 3 engine and displayed in glorious 720p. Now these graphics won’t compare to the majority of games today, but they do perfectly capture the garish and cartoony nature of the Serious Sam series without sacrificing gameplay at the hands of poor frame-rate.

Serious Sam HD: The 1st Encounter is a manic, fun, challenging shooter. It’s definitely repetitive and dated, but if you feel like you just want to shoot stuff without having to think at all, this is the perfect game for you.

serious sam 2nd encounterTime for the second encounter. There really isn’t much to talk about here since this is almost identical to the first game, in terms of graphics and gameplay. So let’s talk about the differences, noticeable and subtle. The very first big change for Serious Sam HD: The 2nd Encounter is the difference in location. The first game entirely took place in an Egyptian setting. Whereas this sequel has many different locales that serve to keep the game a tad fresh and keeps it from feeling like mindless dreck. There are many areas that will do nothing but remind you of the first game. But Sam jumps through time to beautiful jungles and caverns, as well as some visits to the medieval era. I could be wrong here, but the level design looks a smidgen cleaner than the 1st encounter. There are less jaggies and the environments are definitely smoother and prettier.

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Certain things return from the first, like co-op and multiplayer. We’ve even been treated to some new modes here. Such as Survival Co-Op and Coin-Op Co-Op. Survival Co-op drops you into an arena and pits you against endless waves and hordes of enemies, much akin to Call of Duty’s zombie modes (please don’t bite my head off for the comparison, I know there are plenty other games with survival modes).  Coin-Op Co-Op is where it gets interesting. You and your team of ragtag alien ‘sploders have but 3 lives between all of you. Once those 3 lives have been depleted, so has your fun time. This is certainly an interesting addition that will force you to play smart and tactically, using your teammates as a buffer for excellence.

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All in all, Serious Sam HD: The 2nd Encounter isn’t that much of a far cry from the 1st Encounter. However, the addition of Survival and Coin-Op Co-Op are very welcome and should help to promote longevity.

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After two HD remakes that people clamoured for, it was about time the series received a real sequel. This came about on the Xbox LIVE Arcade some time ago. This was the only one of the Serious Sam games I was yet to play upon writing this review. I immediately noticed that this one looked a lot better than the previous two HD remakes. The weapons have a nicer sheen to them, the environments…*sigh*

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That’s when I noticed the environments. Egypt. Egypt, again!?

You’d think I’d be really annoyed, but I wasn’t at all. The gameplay made up for it. I noticed that everything felt noticeably smoother. I found it a lot easier to strafe and shoot something down within the blink of an eye. Speaking of shooting things, I much prefer the things I was shooting at in this game. Giant roaches and zombies, hulking cyclops’ that made my buttcheeks flap harder than a fan in the hand of a geisha. For the first time, I was truly enjoying part of this collection. I literally felt fear at certain points. There is no feeling like the view of hundreds of different kinds of monsters, be them big, small, or really big, all making a bee line straight to you in the most intimidating slow motion Reservoir Dogs style walk. The first two games were hard, but this one was really unforgiving. I found myself hiding in corners and crevices throughout the duration of the game. I even flipped out and turned the game off at one point in a rage, and that is an emotion that has not been evoked in me since my teens.

BFE features all the usual multiplayer and co-op trimmings. Such as Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Last Man Standing, and Beast. You can play with up to 8 players in these modes. A word about Beast Mode, I found this to be a very unique and enthralling game mode.

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Serious Sam 3: BFE is the best entry in the series by a country mile, and should be given the headline of the cover art…if that were ever a thing. It is the only game in this collection that I legitimately enjoyed, and it even comes with a three-level campaign expansion called Jewel of the Nile. If you don’t plan on buying The Serious Sam Collection, you should ‘seriously’ (hehe) consider picking up SS3BFE from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

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Now this game is nothing like the previous three. I have actually had the pleasure of reviewing this one before. For an extensive look at its features and our verdict, please click here.

If you’d like a quick overview of my opinion on this side-scrolling shoot ‘em up from Mommy’s Best Games, here’s a quick excerpt from that very review.

‘I’m just not impressed by it. I think it’s a good game, I had fun. But I think it’s good in the sense that a free-to-play mobile phone game is. I would not pay money for it. But I also cannot say it’s a bad game by any means. This is definitely a catch-22. Unless you know for a fact that you will be making good use of the co-op, I’d say you’re not missing out on anything by skipping Contra: Duke Nukem Edition. Sorry, Serious Sam Double D XXL’.

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So there it is. The Serious Sam Collection features four games and some DLC. But is it worth your time? Well, yes and no. The first two HD remakes are only worth playing if you’re a fan of the series and want to tickle your nostalgic senses. Double D XXL is merely alright, but it’s nice to play to have a break from the norm of this FPS craziness. Serious Sam 3: BFE is pretty damn good, and a laugh-riot. I recommend making an effort to play it for yourself. I’m quite conflicted here, I can’t go all out and say that this is bad, but I won’t say it’s good either. It’s definitely hanging out on that line and waiting for personal opinion to push it either way. So basically, if you’re a Serious Fan, go for it. If not, pass on it and pick up BFE.

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Serious Sam Double D XXL Out Now

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Independent developer Mommy’s Best Games and co-publishers Devolver Digital and Mastertronic have unleashed the earth-shaking action of Serious Sam Double D XXL exclusively on Xbox LIVE Arcade! Completely overhauled with couch co-op and stuffed with all-new missions, weapons and enemies, Serious Sam Double D XXL is a tour de force of heavy weaponry and loud-mouthed shenanigans.

Originally launched as a part of the Serious Sam Indie Series, Serious Sam Double D XXL is a 2D run-and-gun take on the iconic Serious Sam franchise centered around the revolutionary Gunstacker – an item that allows gamers to collect, stack, and fire dozens of different gun combinations all at once. The addition of couch co-op, new levels, new weapons, and a bizarre selection of new enemies have all been added to reach an absolutely explosive level of fun on XBLA.

You can read our review of Serious Sam Double D XXL via this direct link.

Serious Sam Double D XXL is available now on Xbox LIVE Arcade for 800 MS Points.

Serious Sam Double D XXL Review

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Serious Sam has a long and illustrious history since the series started as first person shooter by the Croatian outfit known as Croteam in 2001. The game’s popularity on the PC meant that it was ported to many later consoles such as the Xbox, Gamecube, Playstation 2 and eventually, an HD upgrade to the Xbox Live Arcade. Serious Sam was always considered an alternative to the Doom series as they had many glaring similarities in style, substance, and even subject matter at several points. Roll on 2011 and we have another instalment in the Serious Sam series – Serious Sam Double D. It was released as a PC only 2D side scrolling shoot ‘em up, but fast became a hit and it made gamers clamour for an Xbox Live Arcade release. The guys at Mommy’s Best Games went to work and not only did they make a port for the original, but they expanded on it in style.

So we know that this game is a 2D side-scrolling shooter, but we’ve seen these before in abundance. Why should you give this game a go? The answer is simple, mayhem. Bloody, funny, gunny, mayhem.  There is an abundance of craziness, the likes of which you have never seen. We have giant gorilla monsters with buzzsaws for hands, giant dinosaurs that will stomp you to death at the drop of a hat, and other huge beasts of a genetically inappropriate nature. But this is all part of the “what the hell did I just see” charm that is plastered all over this game.

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The game is essentially very basic in that there is not much you will be doing in the way of gameplay. It is not that much different from booting up a little game of Contra or a more toned down Megaman.  However, there is one new feature in this game – gun stacking. You can stack guns upon guns upon guns! Combining the sheer force and strength of a shotgun with the relentlessness of a Tommy Gun has only the most devastating of results. Ultimately you can find your best combinations and stack as many guns as you can think of to find the most ‘killy’ (yeah we invented a word) of combinations. Each weapon that you stack has its own kind of ammunition though, so you will have to be smart about what you combine as some forms of ammo will run out before others. There are around thirty different guns that you can make combinations of. Ammo ranging from fire to even bees (yes…bees) will ensure that you always have a fun time. The ‘gun arrangement’ screen is very reminiscent of Resident Evil 4’s inventory system in that it’s almost a living schematic.

Combining guns isn’t the only gun editing aspect in the game. You can buy upgrades for each gun that will change the way you play. For example, the air buffer will soften falls and even help you jump higher. There is even an upgrade that will let you shoot flesh eating beetles at your enemies. All the upgrades are very innovative and will even make you chortle from time to time.

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Why do you need all of these monstrous weapons anyway? Well I already mentioned just a couple of the enemies you will go up against. But let’s have a bit of a rundown. There are suicide bombers with bombs for heads, jetpack monkeys that fire bananas at you, fire breathing kitties, and wait for it…some kind of pancake-panini monster with forks for legs that blows a vuvuzela at you. There are many more enemy types in this game, and they spawn in droves. The abundance of enemies can be a little bit trying at times as they just do not ever stop.

The level design is nothing to shout about. I wouldn’t say it’s bad, but then again, I wouldn’t say it’s good either. It’s just passable really. Run, jump, shoot. That is the essence of this game, and the level design does nothing but promote that. Some levels do have multiple routes but it is almost pointless as the different routes add nothing to the game. To sum up the level design – “meh”.

Graphically the game is pretty sweet. It’s like a hand-drawn Megadrive game. It does amaze me that a 2D game such as this does have a hint of realism. The enemies are so well rendered that the game is almost like a pop-up book. It is one of the most colourful games that I have ever played. The vibrancy does look as though it could give you some kind of epileptic fit due to colourful strobe lighting. But it can be a sight to behold at times, even distracting. The amount of times I was killed because I was too busy staring at the latest gargantuan enemy that stepped into my deadly arena is unreal.

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So anyway, there’s one gameplay mechanic that in my opinion, makes a mediocre game worth playing. Co-op. Co-op and competitive gameplay is where I think the true fun comes out of this game. It doesn’t add that much to the game, but anyone will tell you that playing a game with your friend is much more advantageous than playing alone.

So to sum this entire thing up, the game is a romp. A ridiculously funny romp. There is non-stop action, stacking up to six guns to make the most killer combinations, several upgrades that alter the game’s infrastructure, co-op and competitive play, level design that isn’t so bad but isn’t so good either. I have almost nothing bad to say about the game, so you may be wondering what my deal is.

I’m just not impressed by it. I think it’s a good game, I had fun. But I think it’s good in the sense that a free-to-play mobile phone game is. I would not pay money for it. But I also cannot say it’s a bad game by any means. This is definitely a catch-22. Unless you know for a fact that you will be making good use of the co-op, I’d say you’re not missing out on anything by skipping Contra: Duke Nukem Edition. Sorry, Serious Sam Double D XXL.

So this non-impressive, non-bad, just barely average game is worth a play in my books, but not worthy of its price tag. I give it…

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