Despite being reasonably late to the current-generation party the lifespan of modern consoles has afforded Sam ‘Serious’ Stone the opportunity to see several new outing put in front of gamers. More than this however, it’s also allowed Devolver Digital, with the aid of Mastertronic, to repackage these titles as value propositions for a wider audience, as is the case with the latest release, The Serious Sam Collection.
The second collection of Serious Sam videogames presented on the Xbox 360, The Serious Sam Collection pushes this ‘value package’ ethos even further. While the original release, Serious Sam HD: The First and Second Encounters, offered only the original two ‘90s titles in their beefed-up high-definition (HD) form, The Serious Sam Collection adds two further titles to the disc: Serious Sam 3: BFE and Serious Sam: Double D XXL. Furthermore, this new package also contains the downloadable content (DLC) for Serious Sam 3: BFE, Jewel of the Nile, resulting in a near-complete compendium of all Serious Sam content currently available on Xbox 360.
For the uninitiated, Serious Sam is a frank and harsh retelling of the traditional run-and-gun first-person shooter (FPS). Having made its debut at a time when Quake was still the FPS that all others lived in the shadow of, Serious Sam: The First Encounter is an unashamedly brash videogame. Big guns and bigger enemies – and yet even bigger numbers of both - Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter dressed up a cerebral challenge in the form of secret areas but on no way was it on par with Duke Nukem 3D: it was all about shooting first and not bothering with the questions. Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter was arguably more of the same with a refined balance and level design, but Serious Sam 3: BFE was the videogame to drag the franchise into the modern era (for some reason, Serious Sam II remains without an Xbox 360 port).
Serious Sam 3: BFE took it’s time coming to Xbox 360 after a successful debut on PC, but when it finally arrived it proved to be worth the wait. Brutal and punishing, Serious Sam 3: BFE is evidence that not every modern FPS videogame has to be about military encounters or journeys to mystical lands; it can just be about shooting things every now and then, too. Players follow a fairly linear route through expansive maps facing wave after wave of enemies, varied in their tactics and weaknesses. Boss fights, generous checkpoints, unfavourably poor plot delivery and everything else that FPS videogames circa 1998 were famous for appear in Serious Sam 3: BFE, which is exactly why the fans love it.
In addition to the core Serious Sam 3: BFE videogame comes the Jewel of the Nile DLC pack. This is included on the disc so that players have access to all the content whether they are online or not, and is ready to be installed from the main menu. However, as they bulk of Jewel of the Nile is Serious Sam 3: BFE’s competitive multiplayer content it’s unlikely you’ll be concerned with this unless your console is ready to play online.
The final piece of The Serious Sam Collection’s puzzle is Serious Sam: Double D XXL, the critically acclaimed side-scrolling shooter with the gunstacker mechanic. A shockingly accurate recreation of the Serious Sam ethos in 2D, Serious Sam: Double D XXL received significant acclaim for a reason, and its inclusion here only compliments the core editions of the series, as was always the intention.
As far as value bundles are concerned, The Serious Sam Collection packs a serious punch. The FPS videogames – both past and present – are of an incredibly high standard throughout and the garnish of indie title Serious Sam: Double D XXL is simply a wonderful tribute to a series that’s earned its stripes through many years of hard fought alien ass kicking. There are many more technically astute FPS titles on current-generation systems, more believable worlds and more cerebral challenges, but Sam ‘Serious’ Stone doesn’t care about this; and neither should you.