[REVIEW] Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem – (C)oldschool, cool.

Serious Sam Stone, if you know him, you know him. Sam is a man of little words. Which is cool. Got that? If not, also cool. Sam compensates for his lack of vocabulary with weapon mastery, which is also pretty cool. But what’s even cooler? Siberia. So how do we make a cool cucumber like Serious Sam even cooler? Make him kill every single moving thing in Russia’s snowed-over back yard, all while wearing a t-shirt and shades, and call the game Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem. Cool. But is it?

So, who is this Serious Sam anyway? If you’re really not familiar with him, think of him as a degenerate half-bred sibling of Duke Nukem. Not a lotta brain, but balls made of grade-A titanium. Sam likes to shoot stuff. Who doesn’t? And since our beloved planet Earth – which we humans cherrish deeply… – is being overrun by alien scum, Sam has plenty of targets to unleash upon. Even in “stone” cold Russia. That’s why developer Croteam paired up with a fresh studio named Timelock Studio to give Serious Sam 4 a frosty do-over. That, my friends, is Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem, a 6-hour-ish stand-alone add-on to Serious Sam 4.

Okay, so let me be brutally honest here. If you haven’t been formerly introduced to the Serious Sam franchise, chances are that this game is not for you. Why? Because it doesn’t do anything different compared to all the other ones. Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem is… well… Serious Sam, a game with little purpose other than mowing down hordes of enemies. If there’s a story to be found, it’s shallower than your local paddling pool. But that’s all cool. People who play Serious Sam know not to take it too serious, ironically. If you didn’t know all of this yet, you must have ignored Serious Sam for a reason. For two decades straight.

In that matter, Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem follows suit. While it tries to tell you a story, it hardly makes you care for it. Instead, Croteam and Timelock rather put a serious selection of guns in your hands ASAP, which I find totally cool. I’m not even gonna pretend like that’s not why I power up my PC in the morning. Because it totally is. Therefore, Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem is right up my alley, even though it has some serious (familiar) issues.

Issue 1: Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem is both hella fun and bland as piece of unseasoned baked tofu. This is not a game for people who flame DICE for not making Battlefield 2042 pretty enough. It’s also not the game for people who flame DICE for not polishing Battlefield 2042 enough. Because Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem isn’t really that pretty and also far from well-polished. That doesn’t mean that Siberian Mayhem is an unplayable piece of shit. It just isn’t the eyecandy you’d want it to be. Most levels are pretty uninspiring and dull, and the constant texture pop-in during cutscenes isn’t really doing the game a favor either. Then again, giving us a shit ton of free skins is cool, even though they don’t cross over to cutscenes, which isn’t so cool.

But hey, with great frame rates comes great cutbacks, and that’s exactly Croteam’s approach with basically every Serious Sam game. Fans want fast, snappy, and snazzy. Even when literally every pixel on your screen is used for displaying an enemy. Because, yes, if you’re wondering if the ‘mayhem’ part of the title is legit… it sure effing is. Croteam isn’t fucking around. It’s here to test your GPU, even with a game that’s seriously outdated in a graphical way.

And that’s where my fairly new gaming PC – be it with ‘only’ an RTX 2060 Super – struggled immensly, presenting issue 2. Especially during sequences where the field of view expands (yes, there’s a mech part in Siberian Mayhem too), frames be dropping like snowflakes when shit gets lit. Mind you, I didn’t even set everything to Ultra. Playing a game that’s – no offence, Croteam – as basic as they come and then seeing your frames drop from well over 60fps to under 30fps… that’s a cold pill to swallow.

Anyway, I guess that’s the price we need to pay. If you wanna go with ultra-realism, join the army. If you’re more of a “shoot first, ask never” kinda person, Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem might just scratch your itch. Especially for that sweet price of twenty bucks. Just don’t come to me with “shit dude, this game looks old” or “why are there so many ugly dudes on my screen?” comments. I warned you, fair and square. And thats seriously the icy cold truth.

Cool? Cool. I feel like I haven’t said cool enough…

The Cool
You can literally turn off your brain for this
Cheesier than a French deli counter
Awesome gunplay guaranteed
The free skins are pretty cool.
The Cold
The story is totally forgettable
It ain't the prettiest game of the lot
Frame drops inevitably occur