junior_ain's Serious Sam 3: BFE (PC) review

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Serious Action

I'd be going in circles if I repeated here that I dislike FPSs. I simply dislike average FPSs, the ones that offer little other than the average warfare experience. The whole soldier set up, gas mask, gun in hand doing some government job or joining some random war. At first thought I wasn't cut ou for this kind of game, the whole premise of Serious Sam is exactly going back to the roots, which contrary to the first person genre itself is my thing.

The idea of a simple game all about shooting pleased me. It's hard not to embrace first person games these days, so I decided to give it a shot after watching a gameplay video somewhere over the internet. Of course just shooting could be used to refine my FPS skills which are quite lacking to tell the truth. Plus, any game that tries to go back to roots while maintaining some usable modern-day tactics to make the game more dynamic is worth a check.

I'm glad I made the decision to play it because it's a pretty interesting game. The visuals are not something you'd expect from a game that's not the mainstream shooter with the astronomical budget of some, it's quite good to tell the truth. I think the levels are intentionally crude to not lose that old-school feel and take the emphasis off the shooting. A wise decision even though the areas carry a lot of detail to make you feel lost sometimes, making it hard to spot enemies right away.

The technical aspect that catches the eye is not the graphical beauty though, it's much more the scale of the maps. They're pretty, but on top of that they're huge. Hard not to overkill in some places here and there, but that's fine since there's so much stuff going on on-screen it's precisely the point to make a good use of each area.

These gigantic maps are fully realized when some of the epic boss fights happen. They're not ashamed to present some of the most steroid-injected monsters you could find in a game. If a pistol won't do, use a shotgun, if the shotgun is barely scratching the surface, use a machine-gun. The answer is clear, if it's not enough, use more gun.

It's not a secret that Serious Sam doesn't take itself that serious -- as much as an irony that must seem. This game is all about shooting anything that moves, blowing things up and having a blast at it. Overblown enemies all over the place in a quantity that might overwhelm even the most experienced players easily. That's the problem for PC gamers with systems that aren't top-notch.

There's not much diversity when it comes to enemies, after a few chapters most of them are already familiar to the player. It's just a matter of escalating the number of them. Of course in the beginning fighting some enemies with the feeble pistol is something, but fighting them again near the end but instead of 5 you have 100 to deal with, but you also have much better guns, so it's all about challenge rather than surprising the players with a newer, more imaginative foes.

You can easily see how this game is not about a re-imagination of reality when you take in considerations some things. Like the macho speech which Sam utters during the whole game, entangled within some humorous phrases. At the beginning it's quite funny to head Sam's dialogs, but it gets rather superficial as the game advances. Want the literal meaning of some Arabian translations? Not in Serious Sam you don't.

Heck, some of the guns are downright absurd. Sam doesn't care about common sense and wields a cannon for God's sake! Just get cannon balls around thew stage and equip it, you can charge it walking, jumping, just do it. The controls at first seem pretty "rounded" but they're responsive when you get used to it. Recoil is not something you'd want very realistically in an old-school oriented shooter.

One of the highlights are the sound effects and the heavy metal tracks setting the mood for the high-octane action. The effects are incredible, some of the best I've head in video-games. A good sound system will come in handy when experiencing the relentless action thrown at the player at every second. The tracks tend to get repeated over and over every time action kicks in, but the ones available are pretty good, though I wish there was more diversity, at least when it comes to sound.

The multiplayer is underwhelming really, I could barely play it since it seems to be as dead as an alien who happens to cross Sam's path. The average game modes are available but nothing really exciting to tell the truth, the single player mode is where the real value of this game lies. A co-op system is also available and contrary to the competitive multiplayer it's awesome. Two or more players can endure Sam's adventures playing together over the internet, or with split-screen in the same room.

The campaign lasts from 15 to about 20 hours and is composed of 12 chapters. Downloadable content is available for those who wish to enlargen the playtime. Some other stuff for completionists are a welcome addition as well, such as decipherable Egyptian texts, secrets scattered around the maps to be found and nice achievements for the hunters.

Serious Sam 3 is a back-to-basics approach that mixes in some more-than-welcome modern touches. It results in a kind of a niche game that should appeal FPS fans of all kinds, the premise is not entirely ground-breaking, so hardly anything here should impress anyone other than its sheer challenge. If that sound something you'd enjoy, give it a go.


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