Wot I Think: Serious Sam 3: BFE

By Alec Meer on November 24th, 2011 at 1:13 pm.

Sam he is.

The only honest first-person shooter is back. Is Sam Stone a one-trick pony? Well, yes. That’s the point, stupid. I’ve been blasting my way through the singleplayer campaign of Croteam’s latest, and I’m ready to tell you what I made of it. Though, If I was allowed, I would make each and every one of the following 1000-odd words ‘blam.’

The game doesn’t start until you get the assault rifle.

The game doesn’t start until you get the double-barrelled shotgun.

The game doesn’t start until you get the rocket launcher.

The game doesn’t start until you get the Devastator.

No, no, no the game doesn’t start until you get the minigun. Budda-budda-budda-budda-budda-budda-budda-wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Serious Sam 3 is a constant prelude to itself, an ode to destruction forever building to greater crescendos, an orgy of cartoon violence that keeps on inviting new participants instead of slowing down and catching its breath. Each new weapon marks a leap upwards in the scale of its increasingly absurd onslaught of enemies and crumbling scenery, and each time you’ll think “good grief, this is ridiculous. There’s no way it can top this.” But it does. It always does.

If the original Serious Sam was the values of Doom II transplanted into the aesthetics and technology of early 2000s first-person shooters, Serious Sam 3 is the values of Doom II transplanted into the aesthetics and technology of early 2010s first-person shooters. Or, at least, so it had me suspecting for its vaguely miserable first few hours. Corridors and grim-grey Middle-Eastern desert towns filled with collapsed towerblocks. It seems so familiar – except it’s occupied by remote-controlled zombie slaves and alien monsters instead of the current crop of military shooters’ tendency towards faceless jingoism. Too long is spent with the pistol and the shotgun, and while the enemies are familiar from earlier Sams and his take-no-shit quipping sets him up as the Duke Nukem we wanted rather than the one we got earlier this year, it doesn’t feel like Serious Sam.

And then they take the roof off. Quite literally. Freed from the dim little streets and let loose in giant, golden desert ruins, the looming great pyramids a constant and monumental backdrop, Sam finds his groove. While he’s always got a destination – always a door – he has several football fields’ worth of space to pick his route across. The on-screen enemy count grows and grows until it reaches preposterous numbers – then adds a few dozen more for good measure. Both the larger foes and your own arsenal become capable of trashing big huge chunks of ancient architecture. The billowing clouds of gunsmoke and atomised Egyptian stone often make it impossible to tell just what you’re shooting at, so you pile the heavy ordnance into the cloud, listen to the massed death cries and pick off whatever’s left once the smoke clears.

Strafing, strafing, forever strafing – the recognisable noises of each enemy type letting you know what’s behind you, to the right of you, to the left, or legging it around the corner ahead. Clip-clop, clip-clop, clip-clop: ah, that means it’s those charging skeleton-horse things that throw bolos. Equip minigun. Stand well back. Oh, yes, yes, yes. I can’t even take decent screenshots of the game at its most outrageous, because the blur and dust and blood from that many monsters attacking you and being attacked by you makes for an almost illegible static image. Sam is a game about constant motion: a still picture simply cannot capture it.

It is, it’s hard to deny, ‘just’ Serious Sam remade with modern technology: the same key setting (Egypt), mostly the same weapons, mostly the same enemies. In theory it’s a prequel to the first game, in practice it’s a retread. But the modern technology is the key here: this is not Halo 1 re-released with more pixels, as those Xbox types are currently thrilling to. This is what Serious Sam would have been like were it made for a 2011 PC in the first place. It is gorgeous, it is highly destructible, its levels are vast and open and multi-tier and hold thousands of monsters and despite all that can last a good hour before needing to show you a loading screen. It’s thoroughly a PC game too, with more graphics options than you can count, massive draw distances and an Ultra mode that’ll bring all but the most powerful graphics card to its knees. It’s only the lack of verticality – enemies are rarely anywhere other than on the same plane as you – that suggests any compromise for a console version. Even so, that limited verticality has much to do with the fact the game is deliberately stupid as all hell, of course. There is only one challenge in Serious Sam 3, and that is to mow down everything that moves. Do not come here looking for puzzles or stealth sections or minigames.

Sam himself is a wall of meat – eminently mortal but he takes a whole lot of reminding before he accepts it. It’s openly cartoon logic, not the snotty faux-realism of CoD et al. Not that this is a skill-free game – far from it, especially if you rack up the difficulty. Your hands will learn the dance of efficient death, the darting, the circling, the twitch-aiming, the sudden sprints towards health and ammo packs. It’s a discipline, even if making 30 headless men simultaneously explode into a shower of blood and bits seems about as disciplined as a food fight in an asylum.

Where I am now, the stuff I’m facing, the hordes of monsters big, small, deadly, near-harmless but most of all insanely numerous, I can barely remember those opening few hours. I had to take cover. Cover! I had to pick my moment to aim with the shotgun, instead of spraying death in a 180 degree arc in front of me. I had to hunt for health, instead of amassing and replenishing it as I pegged it around doling out my latest massacre. I had to use the fun but slow and ultimately redundant melee attack in order to conserve ammo. I had to play it like it was Call of Duty.

At the time, I was unhappy about it. Oh Sam, even you have given yourself to the coarse, plodding ordinariness today’s shooters seem to have congealed into. No fun. Slow. Arduous. But stick with it: I’m not convinced it’s teasing, such is the clear effort that’s gone into building its hyper-detailed modern Middle Eastern locales, but I suspect the game’s aware that its nature is to be the same gag repeated at ever-growing volume so it tries to delay the inevitable. Did enduring those humdrum first few levels make the real game all the sweeter when it arrived? Perhaps.

In every other respect, Serious Sam 3 puts the boot to the vast bulk of today’s first-person shooters: it knows that it’s nothing more than a shooting gallery, it has no truck with seriousness and pretending enemies are anything other than pop-up targets. Its tone is cheerful mockery, even down to including the now-standard earpiece-based advisor figure – who Sam largely tells to shut up. Including when she requests that he doesn’t blow up the Sphinx of Cairo. It’s a more fleshed-out game than the originals in some ways, with Sam more there rather than just a guy in a t-shirt, with more context to the alien invasion and more talking, but all of this brief and succint, never in the way of the ultro-death.

SS3 feels more coherent, less like a glorified tech demo filled with a grab-bag of randomly-designed enemies and more like a triumphant, co-ordinated ode to carnage. Sam himself is a more low-key Duke Nukem – clearly cut from the same ‘I’m The Best!’ cloth, but not desperately mugging to camera or blurting out hollow misogyny in a mangled attempt at irony. If Duke Nukem Forever had been like Serious Sam 3, all about massive and escalating destruction accompanied by occasional quips, rather than the narcissistic exercise in self-fellatio and half-baked minigames it was, we’d have been delighted.

So, let’s instead be delighted by Serious Sam 3: it doesn’t get lost in its own joke, it is nothing short of magnificent in its destruction and its technology and it is absolutely, 100% dumb. It is sad, in a way, that it took Serious Sam coming back and doing more or less the same thing, but bigger, louder, crazier, to remind us once again of why we really play first-person shooters, and what wonderful, ridiculous sights and sensation games which are about placing a reticule over things and pressing fire can achieve if only they were honest about their own, gloriously stupid, testosteroneal nature. We don’t seem capable of learning Sam’s lesson for long – but, as before, it’s one you can be damn sure you’ll love hearing. Essential, glorious, braindead, monstrous: Sam as he ever was, and quite frankly we need him more now than ever.

Serious Sam 3: BFE is out now from assorted download services.

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119 Comments »

  1. MaXimillion says:

    Seriously?

  2. Theoban says:

    I’ve only played the first three levels of it so far, but it’s been brilliant. Aye they start off a little familiar to other Big Franchises out there, but by the end of the third I had some big shooting playgrounds to run around in and plenty of enemies to pile bullets at.

    What’s surprised me is that it seems hard, I’m currently stuck with the first big red missile launching robot thing and I’ve run out of shotgun ammo and it’s properly HARD. At least for me.

    My face is a constant rictus of joy though. I look forward to this damnable day being over with so I can go try again, and make better the shoot thing.

    • PoulWrist says:

      Run out of ammo? O.o I spammed the melee attack loads in the first levels. The bio mechanoid boss was a bitch, till I figured the way to beat it is to hide in the columns around the side and shoot it while constantly moving.

    • Squishpoke says:

      Yes, when I finally beat that Major Biomechanoid, I was out of shotgun ammo and only had 9 health.

      I shed manly tears that day.

      Anyway, my method is constant circle strafe around the outside pillars. A few of the corners have health packs on a bench. Grab them as you swing by, and when there aren’t enough pillars left, back up into the outer sanctum, where there are more pillars. (It’s basically two layers of pillars. Don’t waste them!)

    • Theoban says:

      Ah the outside pillars. I was trying to skirt that small building in the centre, but man that mech thing can sidestep quickly. Right, tonight, red thing, you’re mine.

    • Echo Black says:

      It’s pretty great how the enemies they introduce as bosses soon become regular additions to the hordes you face.

    • Snidesworth says:

      I stuck with the central building for cover. It’s indestructible and lets me snap off shots through it. When I used the outer pillars I got swamped with rockets.

    • Vandelay says:

      I used the centre building, without too much difficulty (did get caught by the odd rocket, but only took a couple of attempts.) Not had any ammo difficulty either. I am only playing on normal though.

    • Sassenach says:

      Has anyone ever been a bit of a bastard to a dog by getting it to believe that you’ve thrown something when in fact it never left your hand? The biomechanoid seems to be a bit like that as when I doubled back on myself on the outer ring when fighting it it kept marching on in the direction I was going until I blasted away at it again. Not sure if I got lucky though.

    • Theoban says:

      Alright not that anyone will probably care, but thanks chaps – with your advice I thoroughly thrashed the Large Red Mech Dude. Ta!

    • jawfun says:

      @Sassenach Yer that happened to me once aswell.

  3. JackDandy says:

    Very nice!
    You’re completely correct about the first few levels. But around the time you get the Double-barreled shotgun, shit starts hitting the fan, and it simply doesn’t stop.
    Great stuff.

    • Squishpoke says:

      Yeah, I also thought the first level or two were lackluster, almost like it was trying to be a CoD clone.

      But then I realized that Croteam was trolling me all along. I think I’m only on the 5th level and AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

    • Robin says:

      I liked even the slow start because of how it progressed. It sets you to the “real game” (that begins a couple of level ahead) in a natural way. New game > level start > BAM 100 monsters!, would have been too raw.

      And I don’t think it resemble modern shooters: even with the closeness of the environments you aren’t at all locked to the peace that the designer-director established. That’s just refreshing.

      Fuck I’m just loving it, what else I have to say?

    • G-Lord says:

      I only passed the first levels, so it’s good to know that the game only gets better from there.

  4. Dominic White says:

    Does nobody remember the original Serious Sam? The game paced itself – it was a constant escalation, much like SS3. Only in The Second Encounter was it all crazy setpieces all the time, because that was a standalone expansion, picking up where the original left off.

    I’d hardly describe the first couple of levels as miserable. There’s still about ten times as many enemies as any level from Duke Forever, and the pacing is still much faster than average. Like the review says, it does continually build up, though, with the final couple of levels being complete and utter chaos.

  5. frenz0rz says:

    This sounds fantastic. I’ve got fond childhood memories of playing Serious Sam coop: four friends huddled around a small CRT monitor, three of whom are crowded around a single keyboard, and one lucky bastard sitting back with the controller. How we played a game like that for hours I’ll never know, but it was terrific fun.

  6. Mechorpheus says:

    You know what? If Bethesda gave Croteam the Doom licence, a large cheque and said ‘Have Fun’, we’d get an AMAZING Doom 4. After RAGE, I don’t really trust id anymore…… oh the shame of it.

    Also, the first few levels of SS3 have to be some kind of massive fun-poke at all the ‘modern warfare’ games. Seems to start off far to similar to them, then quickly get back to what was so great about SS, for it not to be a joke.

    • Squishpoke says:

      The joke was in rather poor taste, I felt. It’s like telling your children that Santa Claus skipped their house this year. And after the children cry themselves to sleep, you put up the christmas presents anyway.

    • Vorrin says:

      @Squishpoke

      Aw man, that’s great, now I know how I’ll deal with Christmas, once I get children!

  7. jezcentral says:

    “I had to use the fun but slow and ultimately redundant melee attack in order to conserve ammo.”

    How can something be necessary AND redundant?

    /pedant.

    Anyway, this sounds like the run(-backwards)-and-gun game I’ve been looking for. I thought Hard Reset might provide it, but the spaces were too small, and I would constantly back into walls or sticking out pipes, but I’m a bit peeved that, like HR, this game also hides its enemies in clouds of destruction, so you can’t see what’s going on. Borderlands came very close to being the ideal RnG game, recently-ish. (Actually, don’t laugh, but Hellgate: London was also good for this, even if the weapons felt like blancmange, and the enemy AI non-existent.)

  8. Commander Gun says:

    This is probably a stupid question, but is there multiplayermode (either co-op or pvp)? Souns like a nice game since me and a friend of mine just finished about anything in Borderlands.

  9. Lambchops says:

    AaaaahhaaaaahhhhhaaaaaahhhAAAAAAAAHHHHH!

  10. Echo Black says:

    Co-op is the main attraction, but the versus MP is a lot of fun, too. Here’s some DM footage I recorded (I was getting 200ms+, that’s why my frags are delayed) if you’re curious about how it plays:

    (I didn’t add music to the video. That metal tune actually plays in the map.)

  11. Dominic White says:

    Melee? Redundant? It’s the best way to deal with Kleer and Gnaars. That hammer kills them in one hit, no questions asked, and swings faster than the double shotgun reloads. Aside from the pistol and basic shotgun, every weapon really has a use even once the game starts getting crazy.

    • Snidesworth says:

      I dunno, the pistol is great for popping bombers and other mook enemies while conserving the ammo of more important guns. The shotgun definitely has a place though; it’s there to blast those damn space monkeys. Double barrelled one is overkill and too slow on the reload.

    • Dominic White says:

      C4 is the best way to deal with space-monkeys. No way for them to hide on pillars if they’ve all been blown to rubble.

  12. Tyrone Slothrop. says:

    Lack of verticality is now a console-limitation? No, it’s fucking bad design… why scapegoat consoles?

    • Dominic White says:

      I’ve heard almost every single thing in games blamed on consoles these past few years. It’s ridiculous. I mean, you have angry folks lining up to say that consoles can’t have more than two weapons in shooters as evidenced by DNF, when Resistance 3 comes out on the PS3 at the same time with a huge arsenal and quick radial selection.

      It’s bullshit, and lazy.

    • Alec Meer says:

      I’m not blaming console hardware or playerbase; I’m blaming the focus-grouping or nervousness or whatever the hell else it is that causes so many devs/pubs to play it over-safe in big console shooters as part of their hunt for what they believe is the largest audience. Bad design in a way yes , but they probably think it good design.

    • Cooper says:

      Also, 1920 x 1080 is becomeing the most common monitor resolution for PCs too now. We’re all on 1080p pretty much, which means we get, realtively to the past, much more width than height.

      They may just have recognised that and worked with it.

    • Torn says:

      > Lack of verticality is now a console-limitation? No, it’s fucking bad design… why scapegoat consoles?

      > Bad design in a way yes , but they probably think it good design.

      I think the truth lies somewhere half in between.

      If all you have are analogue sticks, then moving and shooting enemies on different levels is slow and unwieldy. Putting lots of enemies on-screen in the X-plane is fine as you can sweep left & right. As soon as you start stacking enemies on-screen vertically you’re frantically fighting dual stick controls.

      The only studio that got analogue shooter controls right IMO was Rare with Goldeneye / Perfect Dark.

    • Snidesworth says:

      Harpies! Witches! That great big mothership! And the space monkeys. Those wretched, goddamn space monkeys.

      It is pretty flat in general, though. There’s a few examples of elevation that I’ve come across but most of the time, unless the enemy is specifically a flying one, everything’s on the same level as you. I’m hoping that this’ll change later on.

    • DickSocrates says:

      Verticality has nothing to do with consoles. Doom 1 is not just a horizontal game and you can’t even look up or down, something that leaps out even more when you play a modern source port and full mouse aiming works seemlessly like the game was designed for it.

    • Dominic White says:

      Snidesworth nailed it – there’s at least four enemy types that specifically operate on the Z-axis, and a couple more that wall-crawl.

    • Baines says:

      Lack of verticality is not bad design. Some experiences work better for it.

      While SS3 might be mocking Call of Duty with its early levels, it is worth noting that Modern Warfare 3 maps had intentionally reduced stage verticality compared to Modern Warfare 2, as an excess of verticality was seen as one of the failings of MW2′s maps. (Also note that the MW3 maps aren’t flat for that change. They still have slopes, uneven terrain, underpasses, second or third floors, and the like. But it is more restrained, more controlled. When you know a map, you know where to look and what is just decoration.

      It is easier to concentrate on the action, and harder to hide, if you only have to concentrate on certain areas, and don’t have to worry about looking 50 feet up while the same time looking 20 feet down.

      For a game like Serious Sam, I figure too much verticality would be a liability. On the other hand, not having played it, it *is* possible that they might have gone too far in the “flat, open football field” direction, but that (for better or worse) seems to be what people expect in a Serious Sam game.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      “flat, open football field”

      Oh god, not MORE of them.

      Well, thanks for convincing me I don’t need to play this game. Back to Doom 2 maps it is!

      In all seriousness, I’ve played more maps from Doomworld in the last month, that display more creativity and non-linearity, than most of the mainstream PC releases in the last few years. Skillsaw’s recent releases such as Vanguard and Lunatic are perfect examples of challenging and compelling FPS gameplay.

      And yes, they feature vertical-orientated challenges: enemies from varying heights and directions? You might see the odd sniper in a CoD game, but that’s about it…

    • Dominic White says:

      “Oh god, not MORE of them.”

      I’m fairly sure he was speaking hypothetically. They’ve actually made the more standard ‘arena’ environments much more visually interesting, with rolling hills and chunks of fallen masonry for cover all over. While a lot of it is set in and around egyptian ruins, there’s much more variety to the actual combat zones than the original SS. Almost every wall, pillar or smaller structure is destructible, too, so the battlefield often changes a lot over the course of a fight.

    • HilariousCow says:

      Verticality is a tool like any other in level design.

      Are you going to give the player 360*180 degrees of panoramic space to have to worry about (potentially overwhelming), or are you going to limit the places the player has to care about to roughly a plane? Or will you pace the times at which vertical concern and

      Or do you make the angular space inhabited by your attacks chunkier, thus modulating down the amount of granularity?

      One must also consider that aiming directly above or below begins to “roll” rather than “yaw” your view, which is sometimes not as intuitive as we’d like to believe.

      You do need foils to “block off” some portions or angular space, or just make aiming easier, otherwise it’s overwhelming and pretty impossible to keep a track of all angles at all times. Even the Zero G shooters which work are smart to still have surfaces dotted around to block line of sight, and reduce the the angular space you have to manage.

      There’s also out evolutionary predisposition to think about, gravity bound being that we are. We always tend to boil down the world into 2d planar thinking, regardless of the degrees of freedom we’re given.

      It’s just a tool, and in this case, I think there’s nothing wrong with it being used sparingly.

  13. Uglycat says:

    Steam says I’ve spent 2 hours on it, and I still haven’t gotten inside the museum ;(

  14. hench says:

    What I think the Serious Sam series is lacking is the lack of movement control. There’s just running forward and side running. No strafejumping or bunnyhopping like in Painkiller, Quake etc, no doubletapping to dodge like in the Unreal series. It just feels like a big step backwards in that aspect.
    I’ve never bothered completing a SS game simply because the movement is so boring and slow. Just W+M1.

  15. Mungrul says:

    I’d really like to chuck some money Croteam’s way, but with so many games at the moment that I’m having trouble squeezing in to my schedule and the Steam price of £29.99, I think I may have to delay buying this for a while. It’s probably utterly superb, but I’ve still not completed Dark Souls, I’ve just started both Skyward Sword and Saints Row The Third and Age of Conan still has its MMO claws firmly lodged in my brain.
    Sorry Sam.
    Maybe in the new year.

  16. BreadBitten says:

    Sam…he’s super serial!

  17. 2late2die says:

    While I do agree that games like CoD and BF might’ve gotten too serious for their own good I also find myself unable to get excited about these “classic shooter” games like SS3, Painkiller and, I guess to an extent, Hard Reset. I just don’t find the simple “shoot at everything that moves” mechanic satisfying, at least not for any long periods of time. I do want something to break up the regular action, whether it’s vehicle sections, or puzzle/mini-game sections, or whatever else. I do want some stealth element, even a simple one. I do want some RPG like elements. To me, games like Serious Sam, belong in the past, in the simpler times when we were only starting to explore what we can do and what is possible with the medium. That is not to say I do not see the appeal of someone wanting to play that kinda game, but it’s just not for me.

    • datom says:

      I feel the same about running. Great back then when both folks were simple and all they could think of to do was from run from one end of the field to the other. Nowadays, it’s about time we implemented a stealth marathon, where the object is to run the course as quickly as possible without being seen. That’s 21st century thinking!

    • Mman says:

      The reason COD inspired FPS games have to mix themselves up all the time is because their base gameplay has almost no depth whatsoever; there’s pretty much no enemy variety and most guns are interchangeable. The “variety” is all window dressing to try and make sure that that doesn’t become evident to the player. Games like SS don’t need that because they actually do have depth (well, I haven’t played it yet so I can’t say myself, but based on the earlier games and the impressions I’ve read it does), and random variety for the sake of it can easily take away from a game when done wrong.

    • Dominic White says:

      Exactly – people say Serious Sam is dumb compared to Modern Warfare, and my brain screams ‘NO!’.

      Modern Warfare has one enemy type: Man With Gun. Man With Gun dies in 2-3 hits to the body, or one hit to the head. Man With Gun is barely mobile, and pops up and down behind cover. Your arsenal of weapons are rifles (shoot bullets in a narrow cone), and shotguns (shoot bullets in a wider cone), with slight variances in firerate, accuracy and power between them.

      Serious Sam 3 has 10+ wildly different weapons, each with their own strengths and varying availability of ammo depending on level, and probably 20+ enemy types, each of which behaves fairly wildly different from the others and requires notably varied tactics to deal with, and in groups of varying composition provides massive variety in the core combat.

      Serious Sam is loud and bright, but it is by no means dumb. Modern Warfares idea of a raised difficulty level is just making you die quicker, but Serious Sam on higher settings gives you new and altered enemy groups to cope with, forcing you to change your tactics and adapt to a shifting battlefield.

    • Robin says:

      I agree with Dominic White: CoD and clones are the dumb ones.

    • Josh W says:

      I also want stuff to break up the action, but I tend to just pull out a different game:

      When I’m having a gaming night with some friends we can swap from shooters to taking turns playing stealth or horror games, to competing at puzzles, to board or card games, to racing games and back again. Having a game with good drop in/drop out points and a particular style can be a great help.

  18. paterah says:

    No health regeneration = instant buy.

    • Dominic White says:

      I wish health regenerated up to maybe 30-50%. It’s really frustrating to win a fight with only 3hp left, and for the game to autosave just before you encounter a hitscan enemy that can kill you immediately. It’s no fun having to roll back to an earlier save despite winning. Let me take a moment and heal up at least a *little*. It would reduce scrounging for tiny health pickups, too.

    • Snidesworth says:

      I’ve found that there’s always some health waiting for you after any major shooting segment. Maybe not much, but enough to get you out of one hit territory. I’ve only been playing on Normal, mind you, and the lowest I ever got health wise without outright dying was 2 HP after the mechanoid boss fight. Then the level ended and bumped me up to 50.

  19. Shortwave says:

    Having such a wicked graphic menu was enough for me to be happy.
    The amazing kick ass gameplay was just the cherry on top.

  20. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    I still don’t know what BFE stands for, but it probably doesn’t matter.

  21. MadTinkerer says:

    “sets him up as the Duke Nukem we wanted rather than the one we got”

    Yep. That’s pretty much my assessment of it. It’s only missing a shrink ray (unless that’s later in the game).

    • Dominic White says:

      One thing I got a hearty laugh out of is Sam actually making a joke about liking powerful women later in the game. It seems like exactly the sort of thing that Duke would never utter, instead preferring his women to be fawning and/or naked.

      Like Duke, he’s crude and constantly spouting corny one-liners. Unlike Duke, he’s not vaguely creepy and misogynistic, and in fact is a pretty fun and likeable character.

    • DrSlek says:

      For some reason I find myself with a huge goofy grin across my face whenever Sam speaks…as opposed to the colossal frown I had while playing Duke Nukem Forever.

  22. Dozer says:

    I’ve never played any of the Serious Sam games, but this review made me feel all warm inside.

  23. d00d3n says:

    The idea of reducing the fps to its core elements is really brilliant. All flaws are excused as if they were statements on the state of the fps genre. Easy to make new games, because no one expects innovation. Easy to promote, because the idea is alluring to gaming journalists who will praise the idea in their articles irrespective of how the specific game turned out (I am not saying this article is guilty of this). The people at Croateam deserve credit for their brilliant idea if for nothing else.
    I personally don’t get these games. The execution seems weak to me. You don’t get the crazy ambition and creative freedom apparent in some other eastern european games, but you do get all the bugs and low production values.

    • Echo Black says:

      SS3 is anything but buggy (or budget)…And it doesn’t play the “oldschool” card because it wants to deliver crappy, retrograde gameplay without catching flak for it. Much the opposite, it paces itself brilliantly and delivers very well in what it wants to be (which is not an easy task, many games attempt to be “oldschool” and fall flat). The gameplay has unusual depth despite it being about killing hundreds of dumb monsters. I’m replaying on Serious difficulty right now and all the tactics I thought were flawless for dealing with specific enemies or encounters are being quickly revised.

  24. evilmatt says:

    Glorious graphics engine. Perfectly handles any crazy resolution/aspect ratio thrown at it and even centres the HUD on muti-monitor resolutions. Shame on all the bigger, better funded developers (particularly looking at you lot over in Bethesda land this year!) releasing rubbish with no options and broken support for anything other than 16:9, when a small outfit like Croteam can get it sooo right.

    • Shortwave says:

      That’s good to know.
      I’m going to hook up TWO screens in eyefinity for splitscreen coop.
      AKA, we both get our own monitor.

      Yeaaaa.

      Might even be tempted to drag in a third for SP..
      Nice to hear the HUD is properly setup for it.
      And the unlocked fov.. Joy.

  25. Dominic White says:

    One thing that I find particularly interesting is that each weapon you find is noticably more powerful than the previous. They’re deliberately unbalanced, so as to support the sense of escalation in the campaign. The first three ‘bosses’ become standard enemies just a level or two later, as you pick up guns that can wipe them out in seconds.

    It really highlights that this game is designed for solo/co-op play. These guns aren’t a balanced list of pros and cons. The minigun is ALWAYS better than the rifle, and the devastator is always better than the rocket launcher. As such, it’s the ammo consumption of each gun that you have to worry about. You use your smaller guns on smaller enemies, and bring out the increasingly big tools as larger foes jump in.

  26. bill says:

    The first SS was mostly flat too. Was a shame…

  27. adonf says:

    “she requests that he doesn’t blow up the Sphinx of Cairo”

    Is this Sphinx related to the Sphinx of Gizah?

  28. Shooop says:

    The first few levels are definitely a snarky jab at CoD. They even named one of the grunts who bites it first Ramirez.

    I nearly pissed myself laughing at Sam’s commentary (especially the phone one) and almost cheered when I saw the first headless kamikaze bomber. It’s starting off slow as a joke and building quickly.

    It was well worth the pre-order. The only game this year I’ve done that for.

  29. PodX140 says:

    How I look: *Sam! Sam!*

    *In fanboy from Serious Sam1 voice.

    How I feel: *Hold on to your crates everybody, we’re going into hypercrate!*

  30. Casimir's Blake says:

    The values of Doom 2 “transplanted”?

    All I’m seeing in videos are linear obstacle courses. And previous Serious Sam games were made entirely of arenas connected by the odd corridor or two.

    Is there any shred of non-linearity in SS3? Do any of the enemies snipe at you from afar while you’re attacked close-range? Is the level design supposed to be realistic? Or do they put you in different situations, facing different enemies at once? From different directions?

    The values of Doom 2 are diverse enemy types that mix, multiple ammo types and weapons, and level design that could lead you in ANY direction at any time, in castles one minute, bases the next, hell-scapes after that. Are you sure Serious Sam 3 has any of this? Because the first two barely even touched on these old-school FPS design decisions that no-one bothers with any more.

    • Vandelay says:

      To be fair, both the originals and this one have diverse enemy types that mix together. Unfortunately, the level design is not almost maze-like in the vein of Doom (I loved that too, many do not,) although they are probably a little more open than the original Encounters. Still fairly linear though.

    • Snidesworth says:

      There are several arenas which are less big, open spaces and more large, non-linear networks full of enemies and pickups. They’ve still got some open spaces, but they’re not the only places in which the biggest fights are set.

    • Dervish says:

      Thank you for saying this, because it’s something that people apparently need to be reminded of over and over. Serious Sam has a very narrow focus and style that isn’t really like any old-school game in particular, save for custom Doom wads and maybe a couple of the original levels. It’s certainly more old-school than new, but it’s hardly the torchbearer of classic FPS design that people make it out to be.

  31. derbefrier says:

    Great I was hoping this game lived up to its previous titles amd it sounds like it did. Can’t wait to play this

  32. alilsneaky says:

    This looks like fun, how does it run on amd cards? I really enjoyed the first two games way back when (like 8 years+ ago by now?)

  33. Navagon says:

    Those are the words I was hoping you’d write.

  34. bill says:

    Sounds great. However I’m a little disappointed that it sounds like the same flat egypt arenas as the other games.

    The open spaces, weapons, enemies and pacing of the first game were awesome.
    But imagine if they’d combined them with a decent story and characters, and some of the painkiller level artist’s creativity. Best game ever.

  35. Velvetmeds says:

    “So, let’s instead be delighted by Serious Sam 3: it doesn’t get lost in its own joke, it is nothing short of magnificent in its destruction and its technology and it is absolutely, 100% dumb. It is sad, in a way, that it took Serious Sam coming back and doing more or less the same thing, but bigger, louder, crazier, to remind us once again of why we really play first-person shooters”

    Don’t write as if you were talking for all of us. This is not why i play FPS and i wouldn’t play SS even if i was paid; it’s exactly the sort of FPS that i hate and will never play. Keep your SS, i’ll stay with STALKER, the TRUE FPS.

    • Dominic White says:

      It’s funny how you just declared a game where you’re only shooting for a comparatively tiny fraction of the playtime as being the ‘true’ FPS.

    • Velvetmeds says:

      Do you need to shoot every 5 seconds in order to not yawn?

    • vecordae says:

      @Velvetmeds

      This is their blog. When they say “we” they mean “Us, here at FPS” not “All of the people on the internets.” Why is that so offensive?

      I’m not sure why Stalker is the “true” first person shooter. Is this because you only shoot the first person you see? Does it require you to travel back in time and shoot the first person ever born/created? Since “first person shooter” usually means “a game experienced from a first-person perspective and also involves shooting”, I think pretty much any game that meets that criteria is a TRUE FPS. Or does it have some other hidden, esoteric meaning that exists only in some Gnostic text somewhere?

  36. Velvetmeds says:

    Oh, censoring now? RPS, how you keep letting me down.

  37. Necroscope says:

    ID software are you watching ? Learn a thing or two from Serious Sam for Doom 4 alright ? :)

  38. matrices says:

    Can someone please explain this godawful new(ish) comments system? I log in, then I get brought to some useless WordPress page. Then I hit back, refresh, and then comment as a logged in user. And then…my post doesn’t appear until X time.

  39. Emmanuel says:

    Sam 3 has there been a one and a two to this.

    http://www.newlyreleasedgamesreview.com

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