Verdict: Not Recommended after 6.5 hours of playtime.
This review is written by someone who has enjoyed the Serious Sam experience since The First Encounter released in 2001. I love a good run through the HD remakes when I get the chance and several of my friends will play through the game in co-op when we all have the urge. But I just don’t think this particular installment is ready for primetime.
This entry in the Serious Sam catalog is a mere 5 levels and they are really more of a side quest for the events in Serious Sam 4. This would probably have been a better product if it were a $5 to $10 DLC instead. It feels similar in content and style to Jewel of the Nile for Serious Sam 3: BFE. As such, this follow the same newer art style as 3 and 4 as opposed to TFE and TSE. (Let’s just continue to pretend that Serious Sam 2 never happened, shall we?) All of this adds up to a game that I feel was a little bit overpriced, though you get a discount if you own Serious Sam 4, as long as that deal doesn’t expire. But that’s not necessarily enough to warrant a “Not Recommended” review from me.
The performance in the latter half of the game was unacceptable for me. As mentioned, there are 5 levels in this game. The first three played as you would expect, but the performance was horrible for the fourth and fifth levels. The game was constantly stuttering. Some modern games are plagued by micro-stutters due to the modern paradigm of “load in only what you need and only when you need it” causing constant loads to happen in the background. I can accept that to a point, but as an experiment, after multiple battles, I just sat idle. To test. The game wouldn’t play for more than ten seconds or so before a “freeze” of up to an entire second. Sounds would continue to play in these periods if I were shooting or if enemies were attacking, but no movement, animations, or music would be playing at all. The computer I play on isn’t terrible (AMD 8-core 3.9GHz, 32GB RAM, RTX2070 Super, game installed on a SSD separate from the OS SSD) and I don’t have any problems with other games, which is why I’m so critical of the performance here. The experience went from a “Recommended with caveats” to an incredibly unenjoyable experience that I can’t recommend in the game’s current state.
I’m always a fan of Serious Sam games. They’re hectic and irreverent with enough action to keep those of us who grew up with fast-paced shooters like Ultimate Doom happy. But at the current time (Patch 1.03c), I recommend sitting this particular one out. I’d be happy to try again if there are any patches that mention fixing issues that sound like these, but for now, I’ll head back to TFE and TSE.