Reviewed: December 23, 2011
Released: November 22, 2011
After one disastrous release this year by a returning gaming icon with big muscles, big guns, and cool shades, I was understandably a bit uneasy when I heard Serious Sam was coming back, especially after that whole Double D side-scrolling fiasco. But Sam is back and better than ever (or at least as good as I remember) in Serious Sam 3: BFE.|
Serious Sam 3 isnít trying to change the FPS genre. In fact, when Sam first arrived on the scene it was almost like an nVidia tech demo posing as an FPS game. But something about the insane weapons and the impossible odds of relentless waves of alien and mutant hordes and those epic boss battles must have stuck a chord with gamers, because all of those core principles are back and are the driving force in BFE. The fact that Croteam chose to actually integrate a story this time, thin as it may be, is just icing on the bloody cake.
No time is wasted as the opening cutscene unceremoniously deposits Sam on the roof of a ruined building in the middle of some bombed out Middle Eastern city sans weaponry and facing off against the first of thousands of one-eyed mutants. After pummeling the creature and ripping its eye out (complete with stylish one-liner) you secure a sledgehammer, your first and ironically most valuable weapon in the game, as it is ideal for dispatching any creature that comes within its range with a single swipe.
Rest assured, you will obtain more traditional (and not so traditional) weapons later in the game that will provide most satisfying results when it comes to defending yourself against the oncoming enemy hordes. And therein lies the uniqueness of Serious Sam. Not for one instance in this game did I feel I had the upper hand. There were no Rambo assaults. I was cautiously moving through each level waiting to trip the next invisible script wire that would summon a hundred enemies of various sizes and tactics down upon my position. I was consistently forced to backpedal and unleash a continuous stream of bullets to thin their numbers and hopefully survive, only to do it all again moments later. This is arena combat masking as an FPS game, so consider yourself warned.
The game tries to tell a story with frequent radio chatter, mission objectives, and waypoints, but the end result is merely a survival of the fittest, or at least the guy with the most firepower. Thankfully, some of the enemies like the screaming suicide bombers provide their own unique brand of help if you can detonate them near other enemies. Other creatures like the galloping skeletons need to be dodged as they pounce then destroyed while they momentarily recover. All the monsters have their own tricks and it gets increasingly difficult to exploit them when they start mixing up the enemy types in later encounters. And nothing can prepare you for the over-the-top boss encounters, both mid-size and end-level, that will drain your patience as fast as your ammo supply.
Serious Sam 3 is easily the best looking game in the series, making the most of current graphics cards and technology. The more system you throw at this game the better it looks and performs. While the enemies are as freakish in design as ever, there is a certain believability about them this time around thanks to wonderful textures and fluid animation, and the levels and environments have never looked more realistic. Some of the very first areas in the ruined city rivaled the graphic complexity of Battlefield 3 when it comes to demolished warzones, only with a slightly more exaggerated color pallet.
The audio package is impressive with great music that rises to the occasion for each relentless encounter then fades into the background as the last carcass dissolves, only to surge again when you turn the next corner. There are all sorts of awesome sound effects, mostly gunfire and explosions, and the creature noises are as identifiable as they are terrifying. I instinctively equip my shotgun every time I start to hear bones galloping toward me and start backing up when the yell of the suicide bombers signal their spawning. And we canít forget all the great one-liners from Sam. While not nearly as outrageous as Duke Nukemí, Sam certainly has more style and class.
Whether you choose the solo campaign, survival mode, or head online for any of the numerous options waiting for you in multiplayer, expect plenty of outrageous gameplay and gallons of blood to splash around your screen. This is outrageousness at a whole new level. Achievements and Leaderboards will keep completionists and competitive gamers engaged for weeks and month to come.
If you want a break from all the strategy, tactics, and realism of the recent batch of FPS games then return to the roots of twitch-gaming, arena combat at its finest with Serious Sam 3: BFE. With its awesome environments, outrageous creatures, powerful weapons, and insane level of challenging gameplay, there should be enough violent bloodletting to satiate the hardest of hardcore players.