The Games of Christmas ’11: Day Three

By RPS on December 3rd, 2011 at 12:22 pm.


You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why

Serious Sam 3: BFE is coming to town
He’s making a list
And killing everything on it three hundred million times
Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice
And then kill them all anyway.

Alec: The easy insult towards Serious Sam 3 is that it’s just doing the same thing all over again. Well, I don’t have that reaction whenever I go into a curry house and order a tried and tested dish, so why should I have it with something else I know I like?

Counter-point to that is why would I then moan about, say, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations being largely a repeat of its predecessor, or Call of Duty games forever pulling the same trick but with the volume turned ever-higher? Well, it’s because Serious Sam is without artifice or pretence: it’s a bestial level of action gaming, right the nub of why we thrill to simulated, impossible violence. It doesn’t require argument or defence or justification, it simply is. I would never, ever show it to a non-gamer as part of a demonstration as why I play videogames. Yet it understands why I play videogames in a way that very few others do.

God, I hate that I’ve once again ended up sounding so serious about Serious Sam. That isn’t what it’s for. It’s for this:

ratatatatatatattBOOMsplatAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAthoom
thoomratatatatatatatatPOWsplatstplatAAAAAAAAAAzzzzap
BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMhahahahahaahahaah

I can imagine a long future in which, every few years, we get a new Serious Sam game, and it’s just the same as before, that unrefined, celebratory meatheadedness at an impossible scale, but depicted with the best that contemporary technology can conjure. And I can’t imagine ever resenting it.

We all seem to get our knickers so twisted discussing the relative merits of BioShocks and CoDs and Battlefields and Duke Nukems and all the rest, then this turns up in a party hat with a bottle of industrial strength cider in its hand and bellows “hey guys, what’s going on? Let’s have a good time!”

It’s the sudden smile in the middle of an argument with your partner. It’s the chimp performing cartwheels in the zoo when all the other animals are slumped in depressed sleep. It’s the last thing an entertainment medium that is essentially about making pixels flash different colours needs. It’s everything it needs.

Adam:

ratatatatatataatatatBOOMsplode
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHH
KABLAMMIEPOWPOWPEWPEWPOPPAPAPAPAPAPAAPAPAPABUDDA
BUDDABUDDABUDDATHWOMPKASPLOSIONMEGATONDEATHFACE

Indeed. But since I haven’t had the chance to write about it before, I am going to get a little bit serious about Serious Sam. Just a litte.

First off, the first few levels are horribly unSamly. Give it to someone who has no preconceptions about the series and they’d probably be too bored to carry on. There are narrow streets and corridors instead of gloriously open desert spaces, and rather than crowds of enemies there are small gatherings. The pistol is Sam’s only gun for far too long.

But then it happens. Croteam crank up the dial until the dial breaks and then they blow it up. Point is, there’s no longer a dial. It has been replaced by an explosion.

By the later stages, it’s the most Serious Sam game of them all – and I am comfortable using the name as an adjective. It means variety in weapons and enemies, vast numbers of opponents, and wide areas that allow movement backed up by thousands upon thousands of deadly projectiles that demand it.

It is the first-person shooter as I always hope it will be. This is almost platitudinous, but Serious Sam 3 does so much that I wanted Duke Nukem to do. From riffing on and roasting other games, including those introductory levels that must be satirical, to reinstating what now seem traditional features such as medikits, weapons on every numkey and combat where strafing, not cowering, is the solution to all ills.

I also find myself wishing Rage and Doom 3 were more like this. Take away the attitude and, in their design sensibilities, Croteam are more id than 3d Realms.

There are times when Sam is forced to hide lest miniguns shred him but it’s momentary. He’s not waiting for someone else to do his dirty work or looking, he’s just catching his breath. The action doesn’t take place from behind cover, it takes place in the gaps between hordes of enemies, weaving and using the shotgun almost as a melee weapon. I’d forgotten that was possible – dodging an incoming projectile and then rushing at the sap who fired it and waiting until the last possible moment before pulling the trigger, reducing him to a burst of colour.

The series is often described in terms of quantity and scale – it’s the game with the massive bosses and the enormous number of enemies. That’s all there, sure, but it’s the variety that marks the game out for me. Rather than shooting man with rifle and then man with pistol, I’m shooting tentacled flying-beasts, bipedal mechanibastards and a host of other alien oddities. And that’s why, although Fork Parker would burst a vessel if he were forced to acknowledge it were anything more than brash, loud and stupid, Serious Sam 3 is the cleverest FPS of the year, as well as my favourite.

Every sound matters, cluing you into in what the wall of flesh heading your way is composed of. As soon as you hear a certain grunt or footfall, evasive action begins, your strafing and forays marking out patterns that have been learned but that continue to evolve as new monsters are added to the mix.

Serious Sam is motion and balance. Standing still is an invitation to death and in the later stages I found myself tapping into a strange brainzone I haven’t explored for a long time, where movement and aiming seemed instinctive but were more than that. I was learning how to recognise and react to sound, to approximate proximity, to aim accurately without really looking. Relearning in fact. I’ve known how to do all this since I struggled through Doom on nightmare difficulty but the molasses of modern warfare had blunted my skills.

I’d forgotten how to play. Sam soon helped me back into my stride though and reinvigorated my love for the simple joy of shooting space invaders.

, , .

72 Comments »

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  1. Casimir's Blake says:

    But Doom 2 wasn’t unrelenting meat-headedness. People forget that it often required tactics, if you didn’t want to receive an untimely slaughtering. Still, I’m glad to see SS3 out there, just a shame that it’s still a linear slaughterfest. Just in big arenas rather than corridors.

    • Orija says:

      It being a game about killing hordes of aliens, does it matter if it’s linear instead of, say, open-world?

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Open level design and “open world” are not at all the same thing.

    • Squishpoke says:

      Serious Sam requires just as much, if not more tactics than Doom 2. It’s mostly about using correct weapons for particular monsters, and herding enemies appropriately (along with anticipating monster spawns).

      If I’m not mistaken, Doom 2 was the same thing except in maze-like levels.

    • Orija says:

      Haven’t played the games but I thought that Serious Sam games had open level design, or am I getting it wrong?

    • Squishpoke says:

      @Orija:

      Yes, it’s open level design. No, it’s not open world like the Elder Scrolls.

      Every level has a clear entrance and exit. It’s linear but you have HUGE spaces to work with. Lots of open hills, ruins here and there. That kind of thing.

      (Obviously I’m disregarding the first three levels).

    • bill says:

      Doom was unrelenting slaughter that required skill and tactics and timing and weapon choice.
      Serious sam was/is unrelenting slaughter that required/requires skill and tactics and timing and weapon choice.

    • Echo Black says:

      Serious Sam could be a a lot like Doom were it not for two key differences:

      1) The level design is a lot less interesting than Doom’s

      2) The pace is considerably faster (+ larger monster counts)

      The end result is pretty distinct. I for one am happy SS has its own style (really, which other FPS series plays like it?) instead of just being a direct imitation of some other game.

    • HardenedMetapod says:

      Another key difference between DOOM and SS is the monster design. DOOM had a lot more monsters that shot projectiles. Almost ever monster shot projectiles. SS has a lot more melee monsters. That’s why DOOM has a lot less running backwards shooting. SS is meant to be more pressuring. DOOM puts less into pressuring the gamer directly with monsters and more into the the level design in order to make the gamer feel lost or trapped.

    • Metonymy says:

      I’ve always felt that the fps genre was perfected with the imp + shotgun.

      When Quake added half-self damage, suddenly it’s always better to intentionally damage yourself. When halo added enemies that jump left and right, suddenly I’m playing a carnival game that no longer requires decision making, only reflexes. When half-life added endless story driven corridors with no branching, suddenly I’m watching a silent movie. When CoD added regenerating health and stripped all enemies and weapons down to one weapon, a machine gun, suddenly I am playing fisher price games.

      The speed of SS is nice, but the missing element is thinking about how you are going to defeat the enemies. You don’t think in SS, you just shoot.

    • DocSeuss says:

      @Metonymy

      I fundamentally disagree about Halo. Only one enemy type leaps from side to side–the Elites.

      I have yet to play a game that makes me think as tactically (while in action; there are RTSes that make me think about tactics a bit more) as Halo did. Having just replayed Anniversary, that belief is now firmly cemented.

      Halo offers a variety of enemy types that require different tactics to defeat. For instance, hunters are all about being baited into charges, then hitting them in their weak spots. Grunts can be killed with light weapons at range, but they’ll trigger the Elites into an alert state; if you bring down an Elite’s shields (Elites remain, to this day, the most perfect enemy I have ever fought, because they are on par with the player charactre; these shields are a big part of that) and take him out, then the Grunts and Jackals will retreat, which makes them easier to pick off.

      Another cool thing is that the AI can be fooled–too many games have enemies with hitscan weapons (as opposed to slow-projectile weapons you can dodge, like Halo, Serious Sam, Doom, etc), but not Halo. In Halo, you can do thing like throw grenades to cause enemies to dodge right into your line of fire. You can distract them and flank, while they’ll be investigating your original position. That they can’t see through walls and shoot at you with bullets that never miss is definitely to Halo’s credit.

      You’ve also got the powerups like invisibility and overshield that fundamentally affect playstyle.

      If you’re a particularly good player, you can also use the physics to your benefit. During my most recent playthrough, I was using explosions to send weapons my way or direct Flood carrier forms at other enemies.

      I think that Halo might be the greatest shooter I’ve ever played–and there are few shooters I haven’t played. It takes the core element of shooting (navigating in a 3D space while shooting things) and runs with it, exhausting a great number of possibilities along the way.

      Except for perhaps the original Half-Life and the Marathon trilogy, I don’t think I’ve ever played a shooter that was such a massive step up above everything that ever came before it.

    • MattM says:

      @DocSeuss
      I agree with you about Halo, it was a game where playing on the hardest difficulty meant you had to think more and play better rather than exploit AI flaws more.
      When I played 2 and 3 I was disappointed, they added more varity and some really cool set peice, but I felt like it lost a lot of the quick tactical play and balance of the first game. Some weapons (like the plasma rifle) didnt seem useful in SP and the carbine and battle rifle were all around great weapons that could be used to the exclusion of all else. In halo 2 the hardest difficulty had some parts where the only way to win was to cheese the AI and to pick up all the guns so the game wouldn’t clear them away and rob you of needed ammo.

    • Shooop says:

      Not entirely true.

      There’s different enemies which vary in threat level to you at different times so you have to pick your targets. And there’s more than a few times running backwards shooting is less effective than closing the distance with a sledgehammer or unarmed attack.

      The only time Sam devolves into complete mindlessness is if you play it on easy.

    • Metonymy says:

      With respect, these comments confirm that you’re playing a terrible game. The entire halo experience is diluted to you vs an ai script, and what’s worse than that, a randomized script doesn’t improve the experience at all, since the randomization must still choose from a series of pre-specified actions.

      The gameplay should not be locked into one enemy’s tactics, it should emerge from a series of elements all functioning predictably but working together in unexpected ways. By frontloading the game design into a script, you’re actually taking the easy way out, and are no longer required to make the environment design part of the game design.

    • bill says:

      I still think Sam requires the same basic tactics and Doom2. You have to prioritize targets, and dodge incoming projectiles, and time your attacks for maximum risk/reward.

      There’s more fast moving melee enemies, and more wide open arenas, but Doom2 had quite a lot of wide open arenas, and Sam has a reasonable number of indoor or more complex areas like towns, where you can run from enemies and dodge between buildings, just like Doom2.

      Sam’s flaw, imho, is that all the levels LOOK the same.

    • DickSocrates says:

      Just want to mention Brutal Doom. The best mod for any game ever. Makes Doom 1 and 2 into the blood and gore fests you remember. But also adds incredible amount of precision and tactics. It isn’t just a gore mod, but a bringing right up to date of the original games while retaining the original look. If you like Doom, you’ll love it.

      As for Serious Sam, I bought the original 10 years ago and couldn’t get into it. I was very much put off by everything being Egyptian for one thing. I’m not really a fan of Egyptian stuff from an aesthetic viewpoint, and I really don’t understand why Serious Sam has to be nothing but that, and why the hell does SS3 have to be that again? My abiding mental image from this games are basically no map design, just a giant playing field with monsters streaming in. If you like that, that’s great. I love Final Fight and suppose that would seem simplistic and one note to people who don’t get it. But I think much more could be done without sacrificing the gameplay.

      I watched the Quick Look GiantBomb did of SS3 the other day, and was shocked at how awful the level design was. And apparently that is the only real example of level design in the whole game. Dead ends, no indication of where you can go or should go. I hate strict linearity, but I hate meaningless dead ends more.

      I haven’t played 3, I probably will at some point and I may end up thinking it’s the best game ever, these are just my thoughts from the outside.

  2. magnus says:

    And it’s amazing just how many people don’t get it.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Serious Sam is more akin to a SHMUP than an fps. What makes the game fun is that you fall into an artful rhythm of circle strafing and dodging. The shooting is almost secondary as all you really need to do is make sure your death end is pointing in the right direction.

      What a great game.

    • Bhazor says:

      In terms of missing the point IGN deserves some kind of special trophy

      Key phrase
      “In an age where first-person shooters have become first-person thinkers” I don’t even know…

      http://uk.pc.ign.com/articles/121/1213772p2.html

    • bill says:

      It really is…

    • mondomau says:

      @ Bhazor: You know what they say, you can’t spell ‘ignorant’ without…

    • Urthman says:

      I wish there were more bullet-hell shumps like Serious Sam. Radiant Silvergun is really the only one that comes close, with it’s seven weapons (maybe also the US version of Daioh which has three weapons and three kinds of bombs — but those aren’t significantly different enough to introduce much strategic use).

    • Snargelfargen says:

      @ Urthman: Your wish is coming this christmas!
      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/11/08/edf-edf-edf-edf-edf-edf-edf-edf/

  3. Juan Carlo says:

    I’ve been playing “First Encounter” for the first time and have been having a blast…..mostly. My only problem is that while alot of the levels are really well constructed, over the top, insanity, as the game advances it seems like the designers started to rely more on “throw wave after wave after wave of the exact same enemies at you”–which can get really tedious. I timed, for example, like 3 or 4 minutes from the start to finish of one of those waves of skeleton horse things–which given that they are just running straight at you while you mow them down isn’t really challenging or fun, it’s just tedious. There are sections of the game where it seems like the designers thought through enemy placement to make things challenging and fun, but unfortunately alot of the game is just really repetitive and dull wave after wave of the same exact enemies. It could have definitely used some variety.

    • DK says:

      The level designers really like Kleer waves because they’re a type of enemy that can scale from utterly nonthreating to rip you apart in seconds depending on number, distance to player and level geometry.

      2 Kleer spawning next to you can take half your health, but 30 Kleer spawning on the other side of a 100m corridor can end up doing no damage at all.

    • Squishpoke says:

      Goddamn Kleers. Nobody likes them.

    • Flint says:

      Yes, that’s First Encounter’s main issue. It gets rather repetetive in a less than pleasant way.

      Don’t be discouraged by the rest of the series though because of it. It’s one of the things Second Encounter fixed – instead of just relying waves and waves in different arenas, it introduces sheer insanity to the mix. It still casts hundreds of waves and enemies at you, but it does it in constantly changing conditions that range from relatively sane to absolutely bonkers. And it’s marvellous.

    • Urthman says:

      I hope you can make it to the final level of First Encounter. It’s still glorious.

      Serious Sam was the first game to answer my prayer: Stop using each advance in processor / graphics card speed to make the games 12% prettier and instead give me 20x more enemies and bosses that are 20x bigger. It’s maybe hard to appreciate now how astonishing the First Encounter’s final boss was now that God of War has made that sort of thing cliche.

    • DocSeuss says:

      I hate Kleers. They are awful enemies.

      That said, I wouldn’t say that the level design is particularly great. A lot of it’s just huge, open, flat spaces. Serious Sam 2 (the only one not on Steam and my personal favorite from the series, due to its aesthetic, humor, less exhausting controls, boss fights, and improvement/lessening of Kleers) is the best game in the series, I think, precisely because it has a huge amount of variety in its levels that the others just can’t match.

      I just played a level in The Second Encounter that was just a big, open field with three temples in it. It was super boring, and not nearly as awesome as, say, any of the Chinese-world levels in Serious Sam 2.

      Just thinking about it makes me want to play it.

  4. MessyPenguin says:

    Forget Sander Cohen this is the true ballet of death

  5. Garg says:

    Reading about these serious discussions of Serious Sam, I think this very site explained excellently just how serious it is.

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2009/11/27/serious-sam/

    I’m still waiting on the doctoral thesis on why he’s called Sam though.

    • DK says:

      Actually, the Serious is a play on Sirius – the place the aliens come from. Sam is just the name of the main character.

  6. Gnoupi says:

    I’m a big Painkiller fan. Never really played Serious Sam before this one…

    And while I really tried, I can’t really like it, it’s just annoying me, and lacking on places where Painkiller didn’t.

    – There is no knockback, no ragdolls, nothing. Enemies just fall on the ground with the same bloody/gory animation again and again.
    – Too many hitscan enemies. The soldiers, the scorpions, they all just shoot right at your position. For a game which wants to glorify the “”No cover. All man”, I had to hide behind cover almost all the time to not be killed by a machine gun from the other side of the map. Tried the survival map, it starts with 4 of these scorpions shooting me. Not really fun.
    – Optimization problems. I get below 20 fps in scenes which the UE3 would display on higher quality and at 60fps+
    – RELOADING. Why do I need to reload in a game like this? When I have 100 kamikazes running at me faster than I can possibly reload, it’s not fun, it’s just a chore to retreat, hide accross a corner, and try to regulate the flow coming using the map, because weapons are failing.

    I really wanted to like this game. I’m totally loving the “open-arena mindless shooter” type.

    But the truth is, after leaving this game, I launched Painkiller. I played the first mission, and killed 150 skeletons with a shotgun. Each shot pushing them in the graves surrounding, finishing them in a satisfying way.
    I didn’t need to sprint, it uses the classic “flawed” Q3 movement, so it’s bunny hop acceleration fun party while strafing and killing!
    No need to reload, just mindless killing.

    Then, later, I had zombies and a stake launcher. And then I realized I had no interest in Serious Sam 3 anymore. I could have much more fun in Painkiller.

    Pity, really, for this game. I was really hoping for a new fun time.

    • Squishpoke says:

      Out of curiosity, how many levels did you play?

    • JackDandy says:

      Look man, I know what you’re talking about- but that’s just the first 3 levels. I know, the clone soldiers are very annoying to fight, but please try to move a bit further then that. It’s worth it.

      And another tip- it takes a while to realize, but the smaller hitscan enemies (soldiers and babby scorpions) have SHIT accuracy and hardly do any damage. Use that to your advantage.

    • Gnoupi says:

      I played 2 hours, I think about 4. My best weapon was the assault rifle that I just got, I think.
      Last level was with the machine gun “sentries”, in the city (quite nice, true).

      I guess it gets better later, but I had a bit enough at this point, I wasn’t really having fun yet.

    • Squishpoke says:

      Yeah, only 2-4 hours, you are only playing the levels that Croteam trolled us with.

      Get back on it. The later levels are so much better it’s not even funny.

    • JackDandy says:

      Please, when you have some time, just finish that level and the one after. I think you’ll see what we’re talking about.

    • Echo Black says:

      Gnoupi: there are ragdolls in addition to the canned animations (Much like in Rage). Kill an enemy on a staircase or incline (uncommon terrain to find, admittedly) and you’ll see. It’s even easier to notice when you kill flying enemies or spiders that were crawling on the walls/ceiling.

    • bill says:

      Painkiller had it’s good points, but as a game, Serious Sam always blew it away. And then shot it with a rocket. And then ran it over with a giant ball.

      The pacing, the enemies, the intelligent use of enemy placement, and the stunning use of sound (a huge weak point in Painkiller) are all far superior to the over-rated Painkiller.

      What painkiller did ace was a couple of awesome weapons, and some really beautiful and varied level locations (the weak point of SS being that it’s all repetitive flat egyptian style).
      But while the painkiller levels might look interesting and gorgrous, they often weren’t interesting and varied… while the repetitive looking SS levels were.

      I dream of a world where the painkiller artists join the serious sam team (and bring a stake gun with them)

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      Vandelay says:

      The game starts to get good from the point Sam gets the C4 (he even yells “Honey, I’m home” just to make sure you realise the game proper is about to begin.)

      If it weren’t for those opening couple of levels, the game would have absolutely perfect pacing to it, getting more and more ridiculous. But the opening sections are just mundane, even if they are reasonably enjoyable and take far to long to get through.

      On Painkiller, I only played it recently for the first time (year or two ago.) It was good, but I don’t really get what the fuss is over the diversity in levels. There wasn’t anything in it that I don’t think I had seen in many other games before it. There was certainly wide range in the game, but nothing that stood out as particular memorable.

    • DrGonzo says:

      If you remove all the colour, charm and fun from serious san, painkiller is what you’re left with. Its undoubtedly balanced better, but its just soulless, bland and irritatingly unfunny. Much like Bulletstorm now I think about it!

    • Wezz6400 says:

      Sounds to me all you were ever after was Painkiller. Obviously Serious Sam isn’t Painkiller, it’s Serious Sam. If you want Painkiller go play Painkiller. Don’t fault Serious Sam for not being another game, that’s silly.

    • Gnoupi says:

      I guess I will have to insist with it, to reach the fun parts.

      I’m not looking for “exactly painkiller”. Painkiller is hardly a masterpiece, but I had nice mindless fun with it (in game mechanics, not talking about graphics or level design). And even more after serious sam. It’s unfortunate to me that a game released so recently lacks that kind of satisfying detail that I found in Bulletstorm or Painkiller, like actually satisfying death animations/physics, or the feeling that my guns are powerful..

      Serious Sam 3 so far makes me feel like I need to hide to cover to survive, and in general seems “unfun”. So I really hope it gets better later. (And that devs or people at ATI will work on optimizing, because it’s a pain currently).

    • Shooop says:

      That’s my only real complaint with this game: the hitscan enemies and their “normal” guns.

      Why don’t their weapons shoot projectiles I can dodge? It makes it impossible to play anything other than easy without running for cover and picking them off a few at a time. And that’s no fun.

    • pipman3000 says:

      Because Doom

    • bill says:

      I thought painkiller had great variation in levels. Sure, we’d seem most of them before, but they looked lovely, and they were all put together in one game – so they never got old.

      The variations in setting disguised the repetitive gameplay. Whereas the lack of variation in settings in SS tends to make the gameplay feel more repetitive than it is.

      The final level in particular was a masterpiece – it was original, haunting and looked beautiful. It was of course totally broken and annoying to play though.

      RE: Hitscan enemies.
      I always thought they mixed things up a bit. If ALL the enemies launched slow projectiles then it’d get boring. As it is, you have to prioritise your targets. I tend to take out the hitscan guys first, even if they aren’t as deadly.

  7. Squishpoke says:

    Serious Sam 3 is probably my second favorite game this year, topped only by Portal 2.

    I haven’t even finished the game yet, and I’m at the 13 hour mark.

  8. Inglourious Badger says:

    The one worry I have with this game is the other Serious Sam’s brought back something I hadn’t experienced since the Doom days – FPS nausea. I don’t know if it’s the endless strafing, or the speed with which you have to move the mouse around but all these games reduce my brain to an achey mush after 20 mins so I have to stop playing. Maybe it’s a graphics thing, I don’t know. Is SS3 old-skool enough to have a demo? I’d need to try before I buy

    • Squishpoke says:

      Just increase the FOV slider. Works like a charm!

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      Rhygadon says:

      If I remember right, by default Sam 1 also had significant head bob. Turning that off should help.

  9. JackShandy says:

    You’ve got to make it at least possible to guess the game before going under the cut!

    That said, this is a really, really great review. I now know everything I need to about Serious Sam.

  10. JackDandy says:

    I really like the game too.
    Although I dislike some of the design choices (So many hitscan enemies, some enemies only being vulnerable to explosives, 2 weapons being criminally underused…), it’s still a Serious Sam game through and through.

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    Monchberter says:

    No mention of coop from anyone yet? Which with friendly fire on is the very essence of carnage, and many many team kills.

    I think we played the level where the levetating witches appear, but prior to that we were trying to face down a huge cyberdemon-looking thing that just chased you slowly while demolishing an eygyptian temple.

    I was pretty astounded by the amount of level destruction, but that’s hardly new. What everyone’s written so far is right, this game really takes off after the first few levels, for me that started when you’re being chased by the ‘infected’ helicopter and are forced to run and find something to take it out with. from thereon in, things start to get very hairy indeed.

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    LTK says:

    You know which one of my games most resembles Serious Sam 3?

    Spacechem. Because both games give me the same feeling after I’ve completed a level.

    “I seriously cannot believe what I just did. I need a break…”

    • Premium User Badge

      Johnny Law says:

      Ha! Now that you mention it… I agree. Also in both cases I would often quit the game at that point to call it a night, look at the “Play” button in Steam for a few seconds, then launch the game again.

  13. MadTinkerer says:

    I don’t think the opening levels are satirical. They reminded me a LOT of post-war City 17 and bits of some of the modern shooters. I think it’s there for a couple reasons:

    1: Never played SS before? Okay! Here’s a level style you will be familiar with. Here are some enemies. Here are some more enemies. Here are even more enemies in a larger area. Here are even more enemies in an even larger area. Watch out, some of our enemies EXPLODE! Not used to that, huh? Okay, now we’re going to ease you into some levels that are almost half as big as some of the smallest areas in our previous games, but you’ve handled everything we’ve thrown at you so far, right?

    2: For those of you who have played our games before, we have melee combat now! It’s fun! Okay, here’s a gun but don’t forget to try melee if you run out of ammo!

    3: Doesn’t our new engine look pretty? We have proper cutscenes and everything. It’s so nice, we can even afford the polygons to render garbage in HD! ;D

    Well okay, maybe there’s some satire in there too. But I think it’s mostly tutorialish.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      You make a good point. The devs are burdened with teaching circle-strafing to a new generation. I’m sure some players will attempt to find cover/lean buttons at the start of the game as well.

  14. Doesn'tmeananything says:

    My only complaint is, and it’s quite a big one, that the game lacks proper physics engine which results in all sorts of vital parts missing.

    Most guns feel as if they don’t pack a good enough punch due to terrible enemy death animations and laughable ragdolls (tame firing sound effects, too). Speaking of animations, they seem like they are sped up and look comically cartoony in contrast with realistic and technologically impeccable visuals. Well, at least there are destructible environments.

    The game looks phenomenal in static screenshots but in dynamics it looses to many contemporary shooters. It feels a bit amateurish when you play it, mostly, as I’ve said, because of virtually non-existent physics engine.

    I’d cautiously recommend it to FPS enthusiasts: as a classic FPS it’s a solid game with great level design and co-op, but I’d still advise to wait for a sale. By that time you’d also play a much more improved and optimised game. Croteam promises great post-release support.

    • Squishpoke says:

      I disagree. The enemy deaths feel just as satisfying as DOOM’s, if not more.

      Nothin’ like shooting a leaping space monkey out of the air and watching it slam into the side of a building and crumple to a heap.

      Or finishing off a minor mechanoid with a double shotty and watching it crumble to a heap.

      Or killing a Sirian Werebull right before it’s about to hit you and you watch it cartwheel past because it was running so fast…

      Seriously, man. I disagree with you completely.

    • Doesn'tmeananything says:

      You may start with providing a point for me to argue.

      In any case, most animations look very rough, like they don’t have enough frames. It does cheapen the experience when all you do is see enemies die in such great looking levels. The said Werebulls, for instance, fall with an awkward flip and then tend to clip in the walls.

      Although I absolutely dig the way gnaars succumb into blood and entrails when shot point-blank with a double-barrelled.

    • JackDandy says:

      The clone soldiers do have terrible death animation. They don’t go flying like the headless soldiers, they just kind of slump over. It’s really not satisfying to watch.

  15. Jonith says:

    This gives me an oppurtunity to ask this question to the RPS readers. What would you recommend, Battlefield 3 or Serious Sam 3, on how fun they are (and I don’t just mean the Serious Sam explosion style fun, I mean on the whole as in, how good is Battlefield 3 to play online now etc)

    • JackDandy says:

      Serious Sam has better offline, and Battlefield has better online.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Serious Sam all the way! Battlefield 3 is probably an excellent online game but its quite broken. Worth waiting a few months before picking it up. I bought it week if release but have only played 2 or 3 hours online. I’ve probably spent 10 hours trying to get it to work though.

    • Doesn'tmeananything says:

      Alternatively, I’ve played 45 hours and never had a single issue so there’s no reason to throw words like ‘broken’ using anecdotal evidence. However, I haven’t seen anyone particularly disappointed with the game’s stability on RPS forums, for example.

      I’d say that, while SS3 certainly has its place, the net amount of fun would be higher after playing BF3. The latter simply has more variety, much more to offer to the player.

      But it really isn’t fair to compare these games.

  16. silverhammermba says:

    Remember Serious Sam 2? When Croteam tried to change the Serious Sam formula and it was awful? I personally don’t mind them sticking to what they do best in this case.

    • Echo Black says:

      SS2 is a solid 7/10 in my book. Also, the formula is essentially the same in it, just with vehicles. It’s the weakest in the series but hardly a bad game.

    • Wezz6400 says:

      The only thing SS2 did differently was it’s more bright and colourful looks. They went back to the original style with this game (though you change it to be more bright in the options). Ironically, that caused a lot of people to complain about it being just another brown shooter after seeing the trailer, though I think the later trailers and reviews took care of that nonsense quite well.

  17. Angel Dust says:

    Edit: Double post.

  18. Angel Dust says:

    I loved almost every minute this, even the opening levels which did I think a great job of sharpening up my rusty FPS skills for the utter madness that is the last 2/3 of the game. The pacing and variation in encounters (corridor shooting/arena slaughterfest/urban-sprawl-battle-on-all-sides) were spot on, so unlike SS1, I didn’t have combat fatigue by the end of it. The story is agreeably silly (the final cutscene was almost a little poignant though) and I found myself chuckling and groaning (in a good way) at Sam’s dopey lines. The new engine, while no Frostbite 2 killer, can manage large drawing distances and hordes of enemies while looking very nice indeed. Sure, when you look up close you can see that the level geometry is low and textures are not always high-res but none of that matters when you have screaming, grunting, roaring hordes bearing down on you.

    My one big complaint is those witch-things. The hitscan enemies didn’t bother me that much but those witch-things really kill the flow of the game when they appear (which is thankfully rarely). They can teleport, are only vulnerable for a short time, can hold you in place and take 8 or so hits with the devastator to take down? What the hell were they thinking?

    Anyway, a real contender for my GOTY. I just hope it gets the sales it deserves and doesn’t get lost in the Christmas shuffle.

  19. Tams80 says:

    @ Alec

    Also because once you’ve eaten curry it’s gone.