Serious Sam 3: BFE Review for PC

Serious Sam 3: BFE Review for PC

Not So Serious

Serious Sam 3: BFE is good at one thing. In its ten-hour single-player campaign, it puts you into a variety of huge, well-designed levels, and shooting your way through the massive groups of enemies is a joy. You won’t care about the story behind everything. You won’t even bother to learn anything about the enemies except the threats they pose to you: there are the guys who run up to you and explode, the guys who shoot at you in slow motion, the guys who run up to you and lunge, and so on. You’ll massacre all these creatures with wanton abandon, using the strategies that were second nature to you fifteen years ago, such as strafing to avoid their projectiles, triggering enemies and then luring them around a corner, picking off the biggest threats first, switching weapons on the fly, etc.

The idea here, you see, is that all the cute little game-enhancing perks that shooters have given us since Quake—the rechargeable health, the cover systems, the advanced A.I., the two-gun carrying limit—are for pussies. Real heroes walk into the line of fire and take the damage that’s coming to them, and real bad guys run straight at you until you kill them. And much of the time, the game pulls off this macho, proudly stupid attitude. At its best moments, Serious Sam 3 makes you say, ” This is what Duke Nukem Forever should have been like.”

Serious Sam 3: BFE Screenshot

Unfortunately, pretty much everything else about the game is frustrating. Some of these failures are inherent to the old school kind of gameplay Serious Sam strives to recreate, some of them are botched attempts to bring modern FPS features to the series, and some are just poor choices on the developers’ part, but all of them work to bring down what should have been an all-out fun shoot-’em-up. What we’re left with is a game that can be exhilarating at times, but is often just annoying. Fans of the franchise will find much to enjoy, but otherwise, the game mainly serves as a testament to how obnoxious old-style shooters can be.

For example, Serious Sam 3’s boss fights hearken back to games like Wolfenstein 3D and Duke Nukem 3D, and that kind of face-off has not aged well. At the end of each of the twelve levels, you’ll go toe-to-toe with an abnormally powerful enemy, and the only way out of the jam will usually be to shoot it a bunch of times while running around frantically to stay behind cover. Not exactly gripping stuff.

Serious Sam 3: BFE Screenshot

As bad as that is, at least it’s a faithful recreation of the classic FPS gameplay model. Much worse is the developers’ pathetic attempt to implement an autosave system. The entire point of Serious Sam is to throw ungodly numbers of enemies at you—and, as mentioned above, health does not regenerate—so you’d think the developers would have been fairly generous with the checkpoints, at least through “Normal” difficulty. You’d think wrong. Time after time, you will kill your way through a massive wave of enemies, only to die and have to start over. When health is scarce and you’re only a few hits from losing lots of hard work, the game becomes a lot less fun than it should be. And if you reach a checkpoint with low health, you’d better hope some power-ups are nearby.

So, what do you do when this gets to be more frustration than it’s worth? You could notch the difficulty down until you stop dying, turning the game into a challenge-free if carnage-infused romp. But if you’re like me, you revert to your old-school ways, ignore the autosave system, and start quicksaving instead—a type of gameplay that has aged even worse than the boss fights. The whole point of an action game is for you to overcome a series of challenges set up by the developers, but when you resort to quicksaving, you essentially set the challenges yourself—you can perfect each small segment of gameplay rather than learning to play better. All the tension and challenge is gone. It’s boring, but if you want to get through Serious Sam 3 on a reasonable difficulty without replaying the harder sections countless times, it’s what you have to do.

Serious Sam 3: BFE Screenshot

Other modern features don’t work any better in Serious Sam 3. You have iron sights, but they don’t zoom the screen in at all and aren’t needed to steady your weapon, so they’re almost completely pointless. There’s also an instant-kill melee system, but it almost never works correctly. You can use it from too great a distance, in which case your character essentially teleports next to the enemy to kill it. Also, you can take damage during the kill, so it’s almost impossible to use it during crowded battles. What’s worse, sometimes it doesn’t work at all, even when you quite clearly pressed the required button while the prompt was on the screen. This is especially enraging with the skeleton enemies, which can tear you up if you let them get to close without promptly executing a melee attack.

Other problems with the game are just bad decisions on the developers’ part. In one early section, you’re placed underground with countless crawling aliens, and the entire feel of the game changes. You’re trying to pick out dark-colored bugs against a dark background, frantically waving your flashlight around to figure out where everything is. It’s no longer a rush, and it’s not scary; it’s just exhausting. It seems that whenever Serious Sam 3 steps away from huge above-ground levels, everything falls apart.

Serious Sam 3: BFE Screenshot

The multiplayer is amusing in a stupid kind of way—in just about every clichéd mode that ever existed (deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, etc.), players run around at top speed, jump around to avoid each other’s gunfire, and race to pick up the most overpowered guns. It’s completely absurd, and I can’t imagine spending very much time with it, but it’s an interesting throwback to the way multiplayer shooters used to work. You can also play the campaign with up to sixteen players, or with four players split-screen, which makes the whole thing feel like a bigger and more story-oriented version of Horde Mode. Speaking of which, there’s also a Horde Mode (called “Survival”).

In terms of presentation, the game is acceptable, but not stunning. The visuals look great for an indie shooter that puts so many enemies on the screen at once—provided you have v-sync engaged to eliminate the horrific screen tearing—but they’re not as detailed as the graphics in bigger-budget games. The soundtrack, a blend of metal and atmospheric Middle Eastern-themed music, provides a backdrop that shifts with the events on screen, and the sound effects are suitably thunderous. The voice acting is fine, but the dialogue itself doesn’t quite work—it seems to be going for an intentionally bad Duke Nukem vibe, but all the characters just end up sounding like low-rent imitations of that classic alien-killer.

It’s disappointing that despite its great level design and adrenaline-fueled shootouts, Serious Sam is not always fun to play. But that’s the fact of the matter. Unless you can deal with a wide range of frustrating quirks, you’re probably better keeping this one off your Christmas list.

It looks fine and keeps tons of enemies on the screen, but it’s not cutting edge./div> 4.5 Control
The standard WASD controls are employed to great effect. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music rocks and the voice acting is okay, but the scripted dialogue isn’t as funny as it should be. 3.2 Play Value
Killing hordes of aliens is a blast, but too many problems weigh the game down. 3.5 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Frantic arcade-style action. Hold down the trigger and lay waste to a never-ending onslaught of attackers or face being overrun by Mental’s savage beasts. No cover systems, no camping—it’s just you against them. All of them.
  • Fearsome enemy creatures. A new battalion of unforgettable minions, including the rumbling Scrapjack and towering Khnum, join the legendary Headless Kamikaze, Gnaar, and Sirian Werebull to create the fiercest opposition you’ve ever had the pleasure of mowing down.
  • Spectacular environments. Battle across the expansive battlefields of near-future Egypt, which is bursting at the seams with total chaos. The shattered cities of tomorrow, lined with the crumbling temples of an ancient world, become your destructible playground.
  • Destructive arsenal. Unleash Serious Sam’s arsenal of weapons, including a scoped assault rifle, the double-barreled shotgun, the explosive automatic shotgun, the punishing minigun, and the almighty barrage of flaming cannonballs! Carry all of Sam’s weapons at once and switch between each gun on the fly for maximum firepower.
  • Brutal melee attacks. When the going gets tough, the tough take matters into their own hands! Rip out the eye of a closing Gnaar, twist off the face of the hideous Scrapjack, or snap the neck of an Arachnoid Hatchling for an instant kill.
  • Co-op chaos. Go to war against Mental’s horde with up to sixteen players online and annihilate everything that moves across twelve levels of mayhem. Try to survive wave after wave of enemies in the relentless Survival mode, or go on a monstrous safari in Beast Hunt mode!
  • Pure multiplayer mayhem. Drop the gauntlet and let the heavy ordinance fly in incredible versus modes such as Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Last Team Standing, and My Burden. This is the next level of Serious Sam multiplayer, and all hell is about to break loose!
  • Split-screen modes. Huddle up with split-screen co-op and versus modes with up to four players on one screen. Hey, stop looking at my screen!

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