It’s been a while since we last saw Serious Sam tackle a horde of ridiculous-looking aliens against a ridiculous backdrop. So imagine my delight when I start playing the first few stages of Serious Sam 3: BFE, only to find that time hasn’t really changed - or aged - this first-person blaster.
The events take place before the first Serious Sam
game (I wasn’t told what ‘BFE
’ stood for, but I’d hazard a guess at ‘Before First Encounter
’ or something), where the world has been taken over by an alien race called the Mental. These intergalactic freaks want more than domination - they’re after the annihilation of the human race.
Sam begins his alien-pummeling adventure in a packed city, with an attempt to escape the invasion and flee to Egypt, where a human resistance is holed up. You’re not just running away from these beasts though - the first thing that happens down an alleyway is an enemy Gnaar running towards Sam.
This one-eyed creature was quickly put to rest with Sam’s melee sledgehammer, before getting close up and tearing its eyeball out for a finisher. “Careful, you could put an eye out,” quips Sam in a voice that would make Duke Nukem
sound like Fred Astaire. There’s no doubt that Serious Sam was born out of reverence for the comical 3D Realms creation, but with Duke Nukem Forever
failing to live up to expectations, perhaps Croteam can help bring Sam to the fore here.
And it looks like the studio will do so by sticking to what made Sam great in the first place - hardcore waves of enemies firing at you all at once, making for a fast-paced experience. Just moving around with the keyboard and mouse makes you feel like you’re controlling a human jet rather than a weighty beefcake. Sam quite literally glides around the stage at mach speed, and can end up getting killed just as quickly if you’re not careful.
As it’s a prequel, the enemies are a nice throwback to the originals that you might remember back in 2001 - the Rocketeer with missile launchers for arms; the Werebulls that charge at you and can smash you into oblivion; and the unforgettable screaming Kamikazes that make a suicide run right at you. It’s almost pant-wettingly scary to hear a faint “aaaaarrrrrgggghhhhh” in the distance, slowly getting louder in volume as it charges nearer to you.
After the city stage I was able to play through a previously unseen level called Lost Nubian Temples - set in a desert, you have to fight your way through a sandstorm and frag multiple Mental baddies with limited vision. As the dust subsides, you get to explore some really vast, open areas - which is a good thing as by this point you’ll have to deal with around 30 enemies in the distance at once.
Croteam helpfully pointed out that as I was playing in single-player mode, things might be a little bit sparse in the open worlds. But Serious Sam 3: BFE
is built for a co-operative experience of up to 16 people at once, with the number of enemies and the difficulty curve changing to suit the amount of friends you have playing with you. The potential is there to fight through literal oceans of bad guys.
Nearly ten years has passed from Serious Sam 2
, and while the gameplay is seemingly retro as a result, I can’t deny that mashing up countless numbers of enemies is great fun. Hopefully the gameplay excitement will hold throughout the campaign, and into the co-operative play too.