Publisher: Devolver Digital
Genre: First-person Shooter
ESRB Rating: M
Release Date: November 22, 2011
Remember the days when World War II wasn’t such an overused setting for FPS titles? Remember when you didn’t have regenerating health to make things easier for you? Remember when you had to actually pick up body armor just to be able to survive the constant rains of bullets, rockets, and other things that could potentially kill you?
Croteam does. And because of that, they crafted a FPS title that brings these fond memories back, while allowing you to blast alien scum right in the face with a double-barrel shotgun.
For those that grew up on classic games like Doom, Quake, and Duke Nukem, Serious Sam 3: BFE will feel like a class reunion. Just about every aspect of it is old school in design, from the health and armor systems, to the multiple weapons you can carry, and even the appearance of hordes of adversaries rushing towards you.
The last part is especially prevalent in this game. In many stages, enemies will rush at you with reckless abandon, and continue coming by the dozens, resulting in a near constant stream of high octane action, and lots of bullets flying around. For the Call of Duty crowd, the amount of chaos that goes on at any given time can be a bit overwhelming, and it only gets crazier as you progress through the game, with the final stage in the campaign throwing just about everything at you at once.
Though the game uses these classic mechanics, it does have its share of modern amenities. The assault rifle has iron sights to help you with your aiming or pick off targets at range, and sprinting allows you to get across large expanses of terrain easier, or simply create some space between you and your adversaries. Thankfully, the game doesn’t force these on you, and once you learn the intricacies of each stage and weapon, you can largely work without them (there’s even an achievement for going through the campaign mode without using sights, sprinting, or manually reloading).
For the Serious Sam fans out there, all of your favorite weapons make a return. From the rocket launcher, to the shotgun, to the cannon, all of these weapons will have their uses, and being able to utilize each of your resources will be crucial to surviving. The game even has secret areas that you can explore, which contain some extra ammo or health stocks, and looking through every nook and cranny for these secrets can be beneficial. Even the NETRICSA system makes a return, allowing players to read up on objective info, enemy data, and weapon analysis.
SS3 comes with a couple game modes that can serve to increase your playtime. Of course, we have the campaign mode, which puts you through the storyline of the game itself. Serving as a prequel to the other SS titles, fans are likely to already know what the outcome is going to be (hint: it’s not pretty). There’s also very little in terms of actual plot progression and character development, but it does provide some interesting character interaction between Sam and the rest of Earth’s remaining forces. The main draw, obviously, is the ridiculous action the game provides; if you’re looking for anything more than that, you’re probably playing the wrong game.
The multiplayer aspects, meanwhile, are quite varied, and include local split screen and online. Two core sections for these are Co-op and Versus. The former allows you and a couple local buddies, or some randoms online, to tackle either the campaign or survival modes. You can also choose between different types of campaign game types, including Classic and Coin-Op. The unique aspect of these modes is that any and all items you find are player-side, not client-side, and any traps you deactivate can’t be switched back on. Both of these are very likely anti-griefing methods, and serve their purpose fairly well.
Versus mode, meanwhile, has a lot more depth to it. While sharing the same local or online options, players can take part in numerous different match types, from the obligatory Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, to My Burden, Beasthunt, and Instant Kill match types. Beasthunt is a bit more like a competitive co-op mode, where you go through the campaign stages to bag as many beasties as you can. Every certain number of points, you get a chance to kill one of the players you’re competing against, and if you’re topping the scoreboard, chances are everyone else is going to be using their kill chances on you. It’s a unique twist, and has its own methods of screwing your buddies over, whether you’re targeting the guy in the lead, or just feel like fragging a guy and stealing his kill.
The game is not without its own share of imperfections, unfortunately. Other than the lack of an in depth storyline, there are some things you’ll likely notice that can make you raise an eyebrow.
For example, your surroundings are fairly well detailed, covering sprawling cities and ancient Egyptian tombs, though occasionally you run into missing textures like shadows that don’t pop up until you move closer to them. The locations you travel to don’t vary much beyond that; it’s either another abandoned city, or another archeological site. Expect to see a lot of sand either way. Some of your surroundings are destructible, however, so sometimes it can be beneficial to destroy some priceless artifacts in order to uncover hidden areas, or flush out enemies trying to hide.
Monster details are also fairly gruesome, with some of the ugliest baddies you’ll see. Despite this, humans don’t really share the same level of detail, and the character models especially are very stiff. This can be seen simply by switching to third person view mode and running around a bit. Even during the cinematic segments, characters move around like they’ve got wooden planks duct taped to their limbs.
The voice acting isn’t exactly something to write home about either, but the wickedly awesome metal and orchestral soundtrack fits in with each gunfight you take part in, kicking in at appropriate times to let you know when it’s time to get serious (pardon the pun). Sam’s various one-liners and don’t-give-a-f*ck attitude also make for interesting humor, and don’t sound forced or overly repetitive. He’s essentially how Duke should have been in Duke Nukem Forever.
All of these quirks and others serve to further show that the gameplay is at the forefront of everything. Which works, since that’s the best part of the whole thing. Even with the subpar graphics and voice acting, and lack of a really deep storyline, the game still manages to find a way to keep you entertained through sheer chaos. Though you will run into some areas that can overwhelm you, they can be conquered with enough diligence and proper gun usage.
Simply put, Serious Sam 3: BFE is a game that harkens back to a time when all you needed to get through a stage was a big gun and a good trigger finger. The game doesn’t bog itself down with complicated mechanics, and it provides a good challenge that not too many games these days can live up to. And, hey, it doesn’t hurt that you can blow up a lot of sh*t as well.
To reiterate, this isn’t a game for someone that is used to playing games where they have overly complicated cover mechanics, regenerating health, and enemies that die in a single bullet shot. It’s a game for those who remember trying to do speed runs in Doom and blasting away hordes of monsters with a single rocket and watching the bodies pile up. It’s also at a more affordable price, for those who are a bit more cautious in taking care of their wallets. It’s not the prettiest or deepest game you’ll encounter, but it’s definitely a lot of fun.