Serious Sam 4 technical review — They’re invading your PC

Serious Sam 4 technical review — They’re invading your PC

I wasn’t expecting Serious Sam 4 to be one of the most demanding games of the year, that’s for sure. To be fair, the games in the series have always had a large plethora of options. The game, however, really pushes the boundaries in terms of how much power it requires, as it’s even more taxing to PCs than most of this year’s AAA titles. Despite that, it absolutely isn’t better looking than most of them. Let’s take a look at the minimum and recommended specs for Serious Sam 4, shall we?

MINIMUM:

      Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system OS: Windows 10 64-bit Processor: 4-core CPU @ 2.5 GHz Memory: 8 GB RAM Graphics: nVidia GeForce 780/970/1050 or AMD Radeon 7950/280/470 (3 GB VRAM) DirectX: Version 11 Storage: 42 GB available space

RECOMMENDED:

      Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system OS: Windows 10 64-bit (1909) Processor: 8-core CPU @ 3.3 GHz Memory: 16 GB RAM Graphics: nVidia GeForce 1080/2060 or AMD Radeon Vega64/5700 (8 GB VRAM) DirectX: Version 11 Storage: 42 GB available space

REVIEWER:

      OS: Windows 10 64-bit (1909) Processor: Ryzen 5 2600x Memory: 16 GB RAM Graphics: AMD Radeon 5700 XT (8 GB VRAM) DirectX: Version 11

As you can see, I’m slightly above the recommended settings. Attempting to play with everything maxed at 1080p was absolutely not happening. Even after carefully changing things around, Serious Sam 4 ate my PC’s lunch. And then its dinner. It’s very hungry. I often averaged around 45 FPS with a mix of high settings, although I was able to figure out how to get super sampling on while keeping things closer to 60 after a while. A lot of the levels are absolutely massive and things can get fairly hectic, so it’s not surprising to see the FPS fluctuate, but I’m thinking there’s a fair amount of optimization work to be done in the coming weeks, as the game just doesn’t seem like you’d need to throw such powerful hardware at it to keep the settings up.

Feels like I’ve been here before with Serious Sam

If you’ve played the HD remakes or the third game in the series, you’ll instantly recognize the menus. As Serious Sam 4 is probably going to get integrated into Fusion, I’d assume that has something to do with it. Same font, same word choices, etc. etc. I’ve never been crazy about these menus but it at least gets the job done. Just like the other games, changing your settings is handled considerably differently with this franchise. Instead of the usual menu with advanced graphics options, you’ll choose from three pages: one for CPU-based settings and two for your GPU ones.

Each of the three tells you how high the average settings for each of them is and you can autodetect if you want. As there’s so much going on here, I didn’t take any comparison screenshots, as this page would be bloated with dozens of them. I did take screenshots of most of the menu pages, so you can see exactly what I mean. I really hope you like menus and/or Sam’s ass.

Starting off, we’ve got some motion sickness options. There’s nothing too out of the ordinary here. You can select your FOV and alter the amount of bobbing. You can switch the camera perspective during the game, but you can also choose which one you prefer here too. The most interesting feature here is obviously the autoprevent option which does exactly what it says. Selecting it will make the game automatically prevent things that cause motion sickness, which is great news for anyone who has trouble with games like this.

Then the aforementioned performance screen with the big three. You can also set your maximum FPS. If you’re going to aim for higher framerates I sincerely hope you’re ready to make some sacrifices. Or maybe you’re just waiting on the new Nvidia cards which might make hitting higher frames easier.

Croteam is apparently extremely aware of how demanding this game is, so they’ve put in some things I never expected to see in 2020. You can turn off the dynamic lighting, which is a throwback to 20 years ago if ever I’ve seen one. As you can see, there’s so much to turn down on this first page alone. Max debris refers to the enemies, by the way, and not level geometry. Some of that gets destroyed here and there, but those chunks of flesh you tear your enemies into really adds up. You can also make the enemy destruction simpler if each bloody explosion is accompanied by your performance taking a hit. And those sliders for the rendering and dynamic shadows? They don’t have notches. You can just put those anywhere, so there’s a lot of leeway. Also, max active sounds. Huh. Moving on.

Okay, now we’re getting into the nitty-gritty. Four different types of anti-aliasing. I know it can be tempting to have multiples on but that’s one of the main performance wreckers. Supersampling is the one you want anyway. Without some really solid antialiasing, the environments look extra jagged. You can see more of those really specific options here too. Rendering LOD bias, shadow dither, shadow trilinear span, ground shadows. There’s a little something for everything here.

And the beat goes on. How do you like your distant plant shadows? Is that something you really need in your life? You bet it is. You definitely want those high quality trees too. You’re going to be spending a lot of time running around in nature and you can’t be making do with no low quality trees. Gotta have that grass density up too. How are you supposed to decimate hordes of aliens when the gigantic fields you come across aren’t completely covered in grass? Madness. Good thing there are two, count ’em two different options for ground update speed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game with options this expansive before.

Dick? You still there, babe? Because we need to talk about your ground quality. High just isn’t good enough. That needs to be ultra. Make sure your ground cache capacity is adequate too. Is this what my life is boiling down to now? Caching the ground? I want to mention that these aren’t the settings I played the game at. There was an update that reset everything. And I wasn’t about to dig through all of this again. I can only take so much.

Did you seriously think we were already done with graphics options? Hold your horses there, Speedy. I’m not exactly sure why, but this separate menu has its own MSAA setting on top of the ones in the GPU section. It also comes with FidelityFX CAS if that’s your thing. Plus color options if you want to turn the saturation up or down without calibrating your monitor. Okay. We’re done with graphics finally.

Don’t you dare use a controller

This section is short, I promise. Serious Sam 4 has standard control options. Nothing crazy here. You can play the game with a controller if you hate fun. Or you can play it the right way.

You can rebind everything, which I’m sure you’re shocked by. In another “this is 2020, right?” moment, you can astoundingly turn off free look. That will get you, like, super dead, but hey. People have beaten Dark Souls with a bag of Cheetos or something, so why not? You can auto aim with a controller which, yeah, you’re probably going to need that if you’re trying to carefully aim at dozens of enemies over a span of several seconds without any precision aiming. That’s it. I’m done. Take your controller and get the hell out of here!

I don’t have anything left to say. It’s a really beefy game with a ton of options. I had one crash while playing. It was during the last boss and that made me pretty angry but that’s in the past, okay? The loading times on an SSD are also pretty long, so I hope that gets better. Otherwise, there’s a lot to unpack here. All right. Tech review over. LEAVE.