Serious Sam 3: BFE ReviewPublisher: Devolver Digital
UK Price (as reviewed): £29.99 (inc VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $39.99 (ex tax)
You can say what you want about Croteam's Serious Sam games, but you can't ever say that they don't achieve their goals. Colossal in scope and supported by gorgeous engines, the Serious Sam games have always devoted themselves to the old-school arcade mould.
Serious Sam 3: BFE is no different - there's no regenerating health, no third-person cover mechanics; just you, your arsenal and the 500 enemies between you and...the next 500 enemies. If you're a fan of wholesale cartoon slaughter then look no further - this is the game for you.
Even if you aren't a fan of such peculiar pleasures then Serious Sam 3 remains an amazing experience, provided you play it in short bursts. Make use of the 16-player co-op support and push the difficulty up to the extreme levels and you'll only heighten the heady rush of alien genocide.
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Holes start to appear in the format when it's played in longer sittings, though, especially if you're gunning in singleplayer. Battle fatigue can set in quickly, reducing the game to a numb grind that's new to the series and which shows up mainly due to the lack of Croteam's usual humour. The draining experience of such wide-scale death-dealing isn't a huge issue in itself, but the loss of Sam's standard wit and pizazz? That's a major fumble for a game that's sold itself on its irreverence and personality.
That's not to say that Serious Sam 3 isn't funny, because it is, but where there used to be dozens of easter eggs hidden in every level, there's now only a couple of one-liners. Like Duke Nukem before him, Sam now thinks that the occasional swear or muttered innuendo is a suitable replacement for a clever practical joke. Acolytes of the series will think differently, however - where are the +1 health pills which, when grabbed, unleash swarms of yodelling, miniature enemies? These types of spectacles are a lot rarer than they were in previous games.
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The action remains the same at least; there's little sophistication to the screaming, headless masses of suicide bombers and charging alien bulls, but the scale compensates. There's only a handful of new enemies for you to test your mettle against, but that issue is mitigated by the originality of the old line-up. Where else will you find giant gold scorpion men with miniguns for arms?
While the enemies themselves are fun to fight, however, the same isn't entirely true of the levels in which Sam fights them. The chronology of the franchise is far too complex to explain, but it's suffice to say that Serious Sam 3 is a prequel to the original game and sees Sam fighting through the ruins of Cairo in search of a time travel device. This means that the alien worlds and ancient temples that once helped the series stand out from the crowd have been swapped for grey city streets and piles of rubble.