Title. Serious Sam 3 BFE Developer. Croteam Platform(s). XBLA UK Release date: Out Now RATED: MATURE
In a world saturated with FPS’ taking themselves so ‘seriously’, it is hard to remember where the genre originated. The Wolfensteins, Dooms and Duke Nukems! Games that were more concerned with making you feel like a bad ass, than how good the AI was. The return of Serious Sam brings with it nostalgia and a reminder of the routes of the genre, but can the game stand up in today's ‘oh so competitive market?’
Serious Sam 3 BFE is a prequel to previous games and sees our hero before he travels back in time. In fact, the whole game is about Sam trying to get to the ‘time-clock’, which might just have something to do with time travel (who knows), whilst battling against wave after wave of rather insane aliens. I am going to avoid spoilers but I guess that’s the curse of prequels: we know he will end up travelling through time at some point…
The game sticks to its retro feel by driving the story forward with foul mouthed, slightly crude and rude slapstick, it’s all harmless fun and rarely did I come across anything that I would deem offensive, maybe Sam is getting soft in his old age… oh wait, it’s a prequel! I will rephrase: maybe Sam was nicer in the past.
Shooting makes up most of the game, scratch that - pretty much ALL of the game is about shooting aliens in the face! The arsenal at Sam’s disposal ticked all the boxes, from rocket launchers to machine guns. Ammo is everywhere so it’s just a matter of strafing and shooting and working out which weapon is the most effective for the particular alien that’s all up in your face.
The only step away from retro sees SS3BFE include aiming down the barrel (very modern) and sprinting. Anyway back to the aliens! There is a diverse array in which to dismember… although I could not help wondering why they all looked so unrelated… they all came from the same place no? Apart from that minor discrepancy, I was delighted to see some classic boss battles! And in the end, they were all that I looked forward to as the game progressed.
So let’s get down to the ‘serious’ stuff: for 1200ms the game offers A LOT! The campaign is robust for a £40 game let alone 1200ms… However I suppose the key question is how much of that robust campaign is exciting. Well, at no point during this game did I get frustrated, however there were certainly times when I wanted to walk away, it never captured me like a great game should. I felt like I was on a conveyor belt, shoot run, shoot run etc… there was little variety in terms of terrain or combat style. However it is important to say that everything I found to be laborious about the game is clearly deliberate, that is to say it is trying to capture the old school; one against many! Man against Aliens hoorah! So does that make it a bad game? Or am I just being picky? I will admit I was put off by the lack of utilities that have become a staple in modern FPS’ such as NAV points, there were times when I just couldn’t find where I needed to go!? And in a game where every level looks very similar it’s a recipe for disaster.
The core mechanics are more than satisfactory, controls are simple and responsive, combat is enjoyable if a little repetitive and I like Sam as a character. I just cannot help but feel that by trying to capture the retro market they are ignoring all the great things that have brought the genre to the forefront of the industry.
If the single player experience proves too retro for it’s own good then perhaps invite some friends in for some co-op action, or maybe the new Serious Sam 3: Jewel of the Nile campaign expansion is for you? It offers multiplayer versus modes like Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Last Team Standing and My Burden. This is all available now on XBLA at a further 1200ms, and certainly does a great job to extend the SS experience.
A solid attempt to capture some much needed retro action, if you’re a fan of when FPS’ could be summed up by ‘killing wave after wave of unskilled foes’, then this is the game for you. If you are expecting anything more then prepare to be unfulfilled.