Serious Sam 3: BFE Review
Serious Sam 3: BFE isn’t always the most fun shooter I’ve played this year. Sometimes it merely unleashes normal levels of fun. That’s the biggest complaint I can lay at the feet of Croteam’s latest Serious Sam opus.
But when when it’s hitting on all cylinders and shoving hordes of innumerable baddies in your face, Serious Sam 3 IS the most fun I’ve had playing a shooter this year. And that’s a fact.
This game is old school in just about every way. Yeah, you can aim down the sights now, and you have to reload some of your weapons when they run out of ammo, and the campaign is pretty linear, but it plays like a game straight out of the ’90s.
And by that I mean it’s pure chaos.
Remember that scene from Star Wars where our heroes round a corner in the Death Star and, whoops, there’s a s–tload of stormtroopers? They open fire into the crowd and run away. Well, that’s the story of Serious Sam. Everything will be quiet, and then you’ll round a corner only to find 50 aliens with rocket launchers and ten Kleer skeletons lunging at you and a whole pile of Headless Kamikazes screaming and trying to blow you straight to hell. You’ll unload on them and then run away.
The folks at Croteam aren’t trying to be all that creative with this. They simply want to put you in an open area and make you fight hordes of bad guys. And when they do that, I almost wished the enemies would never stop coming, because I was having that much fun.
It helps that you don’t have to reload the best weapons in your arsenal. Take the rocket launcher, for example. You can carry fifty rockets on you at a time, and you can fire them all without ever letting go of the trigger. It’s effing beautiful.
Speaking of weapons, there are a whole host of them; my favorites are the unstoppable Devastator shotgun (which has explosive shells) and the Sirian bracelet, which you can use to lasso several enemies at once and rip them apart.
The main thing that sets Serious Sam 3 apart from the year’s other great throwback shooter, Resistance 3, is that you aren’t going to be ducking behind cover here. No, in this game there is nowhere to hide from the huge numbers of enemies you’ll be facing, and the best you can do is dodge. And it’s not like hiding will recover your health anyway; there is no regenerating health in this game. That’s right — you have to find health packs.
While the combat in this game is intense and fast paced and generally difficult, it’s not frustrating. It is, quite simply, a joy to play this game, no matter how many times you die.
And the co-op makes it that much more enjoyable. Let me just say that you have never quite seen anything like the sixteen-player co-op that you’ll find here. It’s a mad house, for sure, but it’s also thrilling, and the game does scale up the number of enemies in places to keep it interesting, and so the biggest of battles are really unlike anything you’ve ever seen before in a shooter. You’ll definitely want to gather up your friends for a game.
Oh, and the campaign has a story and everything. It serves as a prequel to the previous two games in the series, and you’re still fighting the same alien hordes, but you’re not going to care too much about what’s going on beyond the situation you’re immediately involved in. The story here is slight at best, and it gives you a reason to do cool things like blow up the Sphinx, but for the most part you aren’t going to remember it. It’s not offensively stupid, at least, or disorienting the way Hard Reset’s was. It’s just kinda there, and it never felt like it mattered.
As I sort of facetiously said earlier, my biggest complaint with the game is that in some parts of the campaign you aren’t fighting endless and crazy waves of enemies. That’s where survival mode enters the picture. In survival, you and a bunch of your friends can hang out and skip the story in favor of wild arena battles that go on until the last player dies. These arenas will supply you with all the tools you need to take on the bad guys, from a limitless supply of rockets to all the ammo you could ever need for the brilliant Devastator shotgun.
Don’t get to thinking that survival is a lot like Gears of War’s horde mode, though. Here you won’t get a break between waves, and you aren’t going to be able to fight off the enemies for hours. In my best round I lasted eight minutes, and that’s probably good enough; much longer and my brain would have fried and I wouldn’t be able to go another round. Survival mode is relentless.
There’s also deathmatch, and it’s an old school fragfest full of rockets and grenades and madness. It moves at a ridiculous pace that you just don’t see in online games these days outside of Quake Live. This is going to be my go-to online game of choice for the near future; sorry, Modern Warfare 3.
Technically speaking, this game is a marvel for an indie game; while it won’t win any beauty contests against the best looking games this generation, it does look great. It also runs really well on my machine, with minimal goofs. QA on this title was clearly very solid.
A lot of folks will want to compare Serious Sam 3 to Duke Nukem Forever, being that they’re both born of a bygone era of gaming, but really they aren’t that comparable; Serious Sam 3 is working on a completely different scale. Where they are similar, though, is in personality. Both Duke and Sam like to crack jokes. Sam is funnier, though, with his fourth-wall-breaking humor. Also, he referred to the Sirian bracelet as “cute, practical and deadly,” which Duke would never say for fear of being called gay.
The battle for shooter of the year comes down to Serious Sam 3 and Resistance 3. I haven’t decided which one is better, but that’s not important right now. What is important is that Serious Sam 3 is a great game, and one of the few new shooters to truly be worth the money. And at $40, it’s cheaper than all the alternatives. It’s a must-buy in my book, and it’s more than worthy of the Serious Sam name.
Balls-to-the-wall insane action
The wildest co-op action ever
Old school fragfest deathmatch
Uh, sometimes the campaign slows down and isn’t as crazy as I would like