Serious Sam 3: BFE Review (PC-Steam)

Posted by Jim Cook, Nov 29, 2011 00:20

I’ve made no secret of my love for the Serious Sam franchise, delighting in its classical style of throwing dozens of enemies at the player while giving you two goals: "kill them all", and "dodge enough of their attacks to survive." What was once par for the genre is now something of an acquired taste, so Serious Sam 3: BFE is for the sort of player who to this day enjoys firing up Doom on its harder difficulties for an adrenaline rush. Taking control of the titular hero, you blast through hordes of aliens hellbent on destroying humanity and will rack up a kill count in the thousands by the time you’re done.

Serious Sam 3: BFE (PC)

Series fans generally know what to expect here, as Sam doesn’t normally regenerate health (that’s what medkit pick-ups are for), has no stamina meter, and there is no specific cover system other than putting a wall between him and his attacker. What you get instead are a lot of guns, plenty of ammo for them so long as you’re not too wild on the trigger, and a nearly non-stop series of small fights punctuated by much larger ones. While a few stages offer significant ’dead time’, either by poor design or pretending this is a more recent FPS game before deciding it’s just kidding, for the most part you’re almost always shooting at something. Particularly large fights are often the sign a boss is coming up, so you’re usually given a chance to resupply after the enemy rush and just before you face your massive final foe for that level.

These fights are seemingly purpose-built to exhaust the player, but in a good way. It’s genuinely fun to be dodging dozens of simultaneous attacks and trying to pick out which enemies in the horde are your real priority, since later stages use mixed groups to cover for the glaring weaknesses any one enemy type has. Smart use of C4 explosives and similar weapons to thin out the herd before either switching to concentrated firepower for stronger foes or rapid-fire weapons to deal with faster but weaker ones is the order of the day here, and it’s very enjoyable once you’re in a suitably large area with enough enemies to fight. And just to be hilarious or sadistic (perhaps both?), sometimes your reward for clearing an enemy horde is to go all of five steps before another one rushes you! Usually your ammunition pick-ups are planned well enough to let you have plenty of firepower to handle this, so it’s more a psychological jab at the player than any real problem.

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Our Rating for Serious Sam 3: BFE Review (PC-Steam)
7.0 Replay
A rather linear game, the best reason to come back would be to recruit some friends for a co-op session. However, that is admittedly a pretty good reason.
6.0 Graphics
Good design can only go so far to cover visuals that are showing significant aging. Nonetheless, it does look okay aside from many stages being too liberal with dust-cloud effects from stray shots.
8.0 Sound
A mix of metal and middle-eastern themes works unusually well when you’re fighting. Sam’s voice actor delivers most of his lines quite well and manages to draw some laughs, even if it’s obvious the writers are starting to run out of good material. Weapon effects remain satisfying, which is important since you’ll be firing at enemies virtually non-stop.
8.0 Gameplay
Designed to be exhausting in a good way, throwing wave after wave of enemies at you with little pause for rest. By the time you’re done with any given encounter, you may have killed well over a hundred enemies.
8.0 Multiplayer/Online Content
While versus play doesn’t hold up well despite offering several different modes, the real heart of a Serious Sam experience is co-op and this installment delivers on that. Facing the story mode or a pair of survival maps with friends is easily one of the best things about Serious Sam 3.
8.0 Overall
Despite its unnecessary nods to current FPS games, this is still a genuine Serious Sam experience and will thrill long-time fans.

Rating: 5.0, votes: 3

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