Serious Sam 4 on Xbox Series X plays like a hilarious B-movie, but a poor port ruins it

This is a screenshot of Serious Sam 4 on Xbox Series X

Serious Sam is an over-the-top action game franchise that pits you against an obscene number of enemies at any given time. These aren’t the lethargic hordes of Dead Rising though, they’re aggressive creatures that require constant movement to evade. The latest entry is Serious Sam 4, a game that serves as a prequel to the entire series. You go from one area to the next, shooting enemies in arena-style levels, while unlocking various upgrades and weapons.

You can play Serious Sam 4 as a traditional first-person shooter or a third-person shooter. You can change the camera at any given time by pressing down on the D-pad. I preferred playing it in first-person mode because it’s easier to aim and the character movements are less awkward. However, the choice is yours. This is by no means a supremely refined game. Publisher Developer Digital provided me with review code for the title and I played it on Xbox Series X.

Serious Sam 4 deals with the aftermath of an alien invasion. You step into the shoes of the titular character, Sam Stone, who bands together with an odd group of characters to save the world. This isn’t a dark, mature story with a lot of complexity. Serious Sam 4 plays out like a hilarious B movie, with plenty of jokes and one-liners.

Serious Sam 4 didn’t get great reviews when it launched on PC and Google Stadia back in September 2020, but it still provides a lot of entertainment. It’s great for laughs and provides a reason to shoot hordes of extraterrestrials. Now that it’s available on current-generation consoles, how does it hold up? Keep in mind that the last-generation PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions are still in development. The game just released for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.

This is a screenshot of Serious Sam 4 on Xbox Series X

Serious Sam 4 suffers from frustrating performance issues on Xbox Series X. The game features Quality and Performance options, but neither offers a locked 60 frames per second (FPS) experience. On Quality mode, the game constantly fluctuates between 25 to 55 FPS, and on Performance mode, it varies from 40 to 60 FPS. During my playthrough, I couldn’t find a single level that offered a satisfactory experience. The frame rate drops occur every other second and, after a while, it becomes exhausting to play Serious Sam 4. Given the fact that the game is a fast-paced shooter, this is absolutely unacceptable.

While Serious Sam 4 features a lot of enemies on-screen at any given time, they aren’t as dense as a game like Dead Rising 4. The textures are also average, with texture pop-in a common occurrence on Xbox Series X. It’s clear that Serious Sam 4 hasn’t properly been optimized for Microsoft’s machine and will need a lot of work to fix. Luckily, the game renders at 4K resolution on Quality mode, and appears to be rendering at either 4K or 1080p on Performance mode. The image quality takes a noticeable hit on Performance mode, particularly the lighting and shadows, but it does offer a slightly smoother experience. There isn’t a setting that you can simply tweak to make the game run properly. At the moment, it’s an unpolished mess on the technical front.

This is a screenshot of Serious Sam 4 on Xbox Series X

At this point, I’m just so sick and tired of playing unpolished games on Xbox Series X. Battlefield 2042, Call of Duty: Vanguard, Oddworld: Soulstorm, and Serious Sam 4 were some of my most anticipated titles for 2021. Unfortunately, all of them have severe issues on the console. In a world where Halo Infinite can maintain – for the most part – 4K and 60 FPS in its vast environment, I’m baffled as to why these other games can’t.

Serious Sam 4 should’ve been delayed on Xbox Series X to fix the performance. Even though the Serious Sam titles haven’t been Game of the Year contenders for a long time, they’re still a lot of fun to play through, like Duke Nukem Forever. Considering the fact that Serious Sam 4 costs $39.99 on the Microsoft Store, I can’t recommend it in its current state. Hopefully, patches will be issued soon to fix the deplorable frame rate. How anyone thought it was acceptable to release this game in its current form is beyond me.

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