Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
Buy On
  1. Great gameplay, great graphics, great levels, great lead character, great amount of gaming-time hours: you name it this game does it GREAT.
  2. The graphics are very high end, with insanely good lighting effects, detailed textures, huge monsters, trees that shred when blasted with gunfire, gorgeous reflective surfaces.
  3. Perhaps the best thing about Serious Sam though is just how pristine it is. It’s a very, very polished game.
  4. Game Informer
    You get just enough time to either shake that turd out of your shorts or to start firing - but not both. [Dec 2002, p.133]
  5. The true beauty of Serious Sam is in its pacing. It's able to maintain a consistently high level of fun by concentrating on the details: the different sequences the monsters come at you, the different sides they come at you and the clever monster placements (high, low, concealed) throughout the levels. These are, quite frankly, some of the best in the industry.
  6. Long enough for some serious sessions of sordid slaughter, and if you don't take plot too seriously and don't mind some repetition with your ultra-violence, then it's worth your money.
  7. 80
    A fun package that doesn’t tax your noggin the way "Halo" did.
  8. Fast and frantic action for the arcade shooter fan, but light on story and strategy. Its graphics are a step down from those of its PC-based predecessors.
  9. Sure, it's not a budget game like its predecessors, but Serious Sam for the Xbox is easily worth its full retail price and will last you longer than most other action games.
  10. Challenging and sometimes overwhelming.
  11. 77
    An absolute blast to play. It is exactly what it sets out to be -- a mindless, fun shooter.
  12. Official Xbox Magazine
    A good, solid, and fun title that is great for blowing off steam and packs some multiplayer fun. [Dec 2002, p.103]
  13. Play Magazine
    It's not about visuals; it's about a throwback to "Doom" with a balls-out style that is outrageous fun. [Nov 2002, p.84]
  14. Takes the FPS genre back to its roots. You feel once again like playing the 1993’s Doom shareware edition, now in full 3D.
  15. It’s great fun to play, controls are an absolute dream and there’s nothing better than shooting some headless freaks to bits.
  16. Serious Sam is a true mindless shooter. There is no story, no real idea of what you are accomplishing, and it is almost impossible to run out of ammo.

Awards & Rankings

#58 Most Discussed Xbox Game of 2002
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 18 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 18
  2. Negative: 2 out of 18
  1. Dec 23, 2020
    It's no wonder that Croteam have yet to outdo this game, as it is damn near perfect.

    Looking back on the history of video games, there may
    It's no wonder that Croteam have yet to outdo this game, as it is damn near perfect.

    Looking back on the history of video games, there may arguably be one major element that separates the old school from the new: As technology advances, money becomes a greater driving factor for production. What had at one point been someone's personal creative project may require hundreds of personnel and potentially millions of dollars to pull off in today's market. Even disregarding how many games have come out in the past 10-20 years that have been obvious cash grabs, there's still an element of honest companies trying to satisfy expectations based on the trends of other popular games of the time. This brings us to Serious Sam: A shining example of what happens when you let passionate, hungry developers be their own greatest critic.

    While many developers started focusing on adding a more cinematic approach to their games around the PS3 era, this came from just before that. While the first 3D gaming systems were severely limited in hardware and processing power, by the time we reached PS2 and X Box, developers were finally being able to enact concepts they couldn't initially pull off, while still having more incentive to make a game as memorable as possible in every manner other than graphics. In a way, this could be considered one of the furthest true progressions from old-school gaming, as this game excels at everything that made old games classics, while taking elements of some staple 90s FPS games (like Doom) and making them better.

    Best parts of this game:
    - The level design is vast* and expertly layered. Secrets are consistent, but never cheaply hidden, and almost never obvious. The act of uncovering secrets can legitimately keep you on your toes as they do WAY too good of a job at either bringing up enemies when you least expect or taking you to an area you didn't initially conceive of being part of the environment. I'm SERIOUS when I say that these people mastered the average person's expectations to the point of being able to toy with it, like a master poker player who already knew what your next move was going to be.
    *Oftentimes, you'll think to yourself "there's no way they programmed this entire area just to hide a secret." They did. And good thing, because it was way too tempting to explore, especially as a breather from the constant action.

    - The enemies. The kinds of enemies and how many you have to take on. This is the absolute epitome of triggering "fight or flight" mentality, minus the "flight." While there are enemies with different levels of intimidating, there's one particular enemy that's pretty much officially synonymous with this whole series; For anyone who doesn't know, this game is the perfect first experience with it. My first experience: "What's that sound? What's that thing running straight at me from the distance? Why's he yelling like that? OH GOD, WHERE IS IT'S HEAD!? WHY IS IT SCREAMING WITHOUT A FACE!?" [Starts running backwards] ...Ahem.
    While you would think facing literally tens of thousands of enemies throughout the game would get repetitive, it's kind of crazy how the constant variations in the environment actually make the repetition more of a strength; There's a very specific dynamic that keeps this game from being overbearing, between excessive battle scenarios, explorable environments, and a very ironic sense of humor. This leads me to my next point:

    - The writing. I'm assuming if you've come across this game, you've at some point heard of Duke Nukem. While the Duke Nukem series ranges from endearing humor at one point to tastelessly low brow and potentially misogynistic, the character writing here takes a cue from the more self-aware glimpses of Duke Nukem's character, and in turn makes a cliche action hero that's so over-the-top that it enters the realm of pure satire. Not to mention, I would NEVER expect Sam to indicate anything remotely condescending to a female character as he's more the type of person who accepts that life is chaos and jumps straight into it rather than trying to feed a negative, insecure stereotype of manliness; The satire wouldn't be as effective if it wasn't thoroughly aware of what normal should be, or what really makes a man a... manly man.
    While later Serious Sam games would falter here or there by making Sam seem like a sort of expectable, gritty action hero, every line in this game adds to him effectively being the epitome of a protagonist for a totally over-the-top game with just the right aspects of believability to make suspending disbelief feel realistically welcome.

    Altogether, this title is an absolute gem for enthusiasts of intense FPS games, or anyone who longs for a different era of game development when the GAME was the absolute most important part of a video game. This is a prime example of a games flaws being used as it's strengths, and I still enjoy this more than any specific Doom game that's come out to date.
    Full Review »
  2. Andyman
    Feb 17, 2007
    Serious Sam takes the first-person shooter genre and cooks it down until nothing but a pure adrenaline-filled blastfest remains. Its twisted Serious Sam takes the first-person shooter genre and cooks it down until nothing but a pure adrenaline-filled blastfest remains. Its twisted sense of humor only makes it that much sweeter. This is an overlooked gem of a game, as it is sequel. Definitely worth picking up. Full Review »
  3. Uter
    Dec 20, 2003
    This is one of the best xbox fps'. That's saying a lot since there are many great ones. But think the reason why reviewers This is one of the best xbox fps'. That's saying a lot since there are many great ones. But think the reason why reviewers aren't always kind to it is b/c it's fairly simple stuff. But simple can be incredibly fun. You'll be amazed at all the crazy enemies that can be attacking you all at once. It's not unusual for 20 crazy mosters to be charging you from all different directions at any given time. Overall it feels like a satire fps because it's so over the top. Full Review »