Serious Sam 3: BFE is the newest installment in the Serious Sam franchise by Croteam, and is as out of place in today’s world of FPS games as you could possibly ever get. The entire franchise is built on the premise of less is more; not less enemies, mind you, but less modifications and changes to the genre. Serious Sam 3 is no different than its predecessors in that it is a medkit and armor shard-grabbing trigger-happy gorefest with little to no story to speak of, with what might possibly be one of the highest body counts ever seen in a video game. Other, lesser games such as Duke Nukem Forever made a strong case that maybe some conventions are better off dead in the water. Does Serious Sam 3 enforce this, or is it a shining example of how you can have mindless fun in a much more mindful age?
Bad First Impressions, Fantastic Follow-Through - Initially I was a little disappointed at the introduction to the game. Apart from the hilariously gravelly voice of Sam and the silly tacked on storyline which exists solely to make fun of itself, the game starts out with a whimper in a drab environment that resembles Modern Warfare far more then it does the cartoony tone of Serious Sam. It soon dawned on me that I was wrong about my original assertion; a couple of levels in when I was faced with an unstoppable army of enemies running at me, armed only with a shotgun to take care of the masses, I realized I was completely mistaken about Serious Sam 3. This is a Serious Sam game to its core, taking everything that has been done in past games, and pushing it to the limits. It is tense, brutal, action-packed, and exhausting in its constant insistence on ending your life. This is a first person shooter whittled down to its core, and glorious in the heights of excitement and tension it manages to impress upon the player.
Chew Me Up and Spit Me Out - Serious Sam 3 is absolutely brutal. Even on the normal difficulty level, it's very easy to get surrounded and chewed up under the relentless assault of constant enemy waves. Just like in the days of Doom and Duke Nukem, the game keeps track of your kills, your speed, secret areas you may have found (and there are a lot of them, most of them which I have never seen) and gives you a score based on these things with a hefty multiplier tacked on depending on the difficulty level you have chosen. This makes the game’s levels infinitely replayable on a level which most modern FPS stages are not; there will be speed runs and survival videos for a long time coming, depending on how passionate the inevitable community standing behind this game will be.
Not a One Trick Pony - The game does a great job of transitioning between different level types. Apart from the agoraphobia of massively open and spread out environments, there are quite a few areas that have you exploring more traditionally linear hallways and corridors. I never felt that this detracted from the core of what Serious Sam 3 is all about. In fact, these areas provided a much needed break from the huge waves, while still ensuring that the experience was a stressful and exciting one.
Dining...er Dying With Friends - There are a few decent options for multiplayer here, with a focus on co-operative gameplay. Serious Sam 3 is a game that absolutely doesn't require a multiplayer option, but the ability to get into a game with buddies is certainly a welcome one. The pace of the game is not bogged down by the addition of extra players; it's a brutal experience alone, and it is nice to know you can get a helping hand – as futile as it may be in some of the more difficult levels.
No Room For the Weak - Serious Sam 3 is to first person shooters what MMO's are to RPG's; the game is a constant, brutal uphill grind, and one that can get very tiring during extended play. After each progressively more difficult stage, I felt the score screen to be a total relief, and many times, took a break in between levels just to catch my breath. It can be an exasperating experience to endure over an hour of constant enemy waves, so fans of a more strategic, tactical experience will find this game to be a miserable and punishing affair.
For fans of older FPS games, Serious Sam 3: BFE will be an unequivocal success. This is a game that truly makes no apologies for what it is; a mindless run and gun slaughter fest that is all about body count, and not much more than that. The biggest issue it has is finding an audience who can tolerate its torturous difficulty and its occasionally monotonous gameplay. Those who hate this game will hate it with a passion, and those who love it will embrace it for everything it does right, easily ignoring the few missteps along the way. I am happy to say that I am one of those people, and that despite occasionally becoming tired of the relative simplicity, Serious Sam 3: BFE is the most fun I have had with a first person shooter all year.