Up Up Down Down: Serious Sam 3: BFE
There's nothing wrong with an FPS rooted in old school design. While Duke Nukem Forever (a past Up Up Down Down entry) is maybe a bit too old school for its own good, there's one recent shooter that truly carries the spirit of the '90s quite gloriously: Serious Sam 3: BFE. While a few quirks are bound to frustrate players, there's no denying that Sam Stone's most recent FPS outing manages to be both a relevant retro-flavored shooter and a nostalgic trip back in time.
So let's jump into the not-so-serious world of Serious Sam 3 and see exactly why it's so damn rad, as well as why it may still manage to irk a few players.
Up Up: Old school done right
If you want straight-up shooting mayhem, Serious Sam 3 delivers in a big way. You've got standard assault rifles and shotguns to keep things traditional, but there are also rocket launchers in case you want to get explosive. In many cases, particularly during battles with bigger enemies, you're going to have to do exactly that. This game makes no attempt to be modern as far as its core gameplay is concerned, but mechanically, it feels really refined.
Down Down: Dude, this game gets freakin' hard
Like many shooters of the '90s era, Serious Sam 3 can get really tough, especially in later levels. Being surrounded by droves of enemies, many of which are almost boss-like in their toughness, can certainly cause you to get a game over. Even after you've gotten a hang of exactly what it is this game does, it's hard to take on an onslaught of enemies. It's rewarding, no doubt, but it's equally infuriating at times due to how blatantly hard it can get.
Up Up: Serious Sam formula still works
Surprisingly, the very gameplay formula that made the series so entertaining years ago holds up incredibly well. You're tossed into massive areas loaded with ammo, health, and armor pick-ups, and then enemies flood the screen faster than you can imagine. There are bigger, sluggish threats that fire at you from a distance, but then there are smaller, nimbler baddies that rush you. It's tough, but it's a pretty unique formula that we don't see very often, which adds a nice novelty to the Serious Sam 3 experience.
The fun factor goes back to the basic gameplay. You arm yourself with a bunch of guns and ammo, you snag as much health as you can, and you prepare for the worst. Taking out Beheaded Kamikazes, Kleer Skeletons, and Gnaars is stupendously satisfying, and raining down death upon the bigger, stronger enemies such as Scrapjacks and Major Biomechanoids is damn glorious. The style of Serious Sam 3 is so refreshing that you're constantly just left in wonder at its utter entertainment value.
Down Down: What's with those first two hours?
Oddly enough, the first two hours or so don't exactly feel like a Serious Sam game. Aside from the weird enemy encounters and gritty action, the gameplay is more straightforward than you'd expect. Tight corridors and small spaces make up the bulk of those early hours, and while those beginning moments are still quite fun, they don't really fit with about 90 percent of the rest of the game, which tosses you into wide open stages filled to the brim with monsters, aliens, and other strange beasts.
Up Up: Pretty funny at times
Sam doesn't need to rely on vulgar humor like Duke Nukem, but he's still really funny. In fact, it's easy to see how more people could enjoy the lighthearted themes of Serious Sam 3 over the pervy nature of Duke Nukem Forever. Sam is a badass dude, but even he knows when he's in a tough spot, as is indicated when he shouts, “Holy crap!” after witnessing the first major boss in the game. Then there's the army of screaming Beheaded Kamikazes, which prompts an appropriate, “Uh-oh!” from our protagonist.
Down Down: Really frustrating at times
Unfortunately, as funny as it may be, Serious Sam 3 is also a tiny bit frustrating sometimes. Oh, hell, who am I kidding? It's really frustrating! Don't get me wrong, you're bound to experience numerous wonderful feelings of total bliss while playing, but those feelings are often prefaced with anger at just how tough the enemies can get. This game will make you curse, throw your controller, and rage quit. That said, the very mechanics that give you so much rage also make you a better player, so it's hard to stay frustrated for too long.
Left Right Left Right: Serious Sam 3 is old school FPS bliss at its finest
Serious Sam 3 is a game deserving of many audiences. First off, fans of old school shooters will find a lot to love here. Of course, even if you've graduated to a more contemporary school of thought regarding the genre, it's worth playing this delightful title just to remember the good old days without having to deal with archaic controls and visuals. Then there are people who maybe never touched shooters in the past, but are curious about how the genre used to be.
If you like your shooting nonstop and in-your-face, Serious Sam 3 is a worthwhile game filled with action, frustration, difficulty, and happiness. Oh, and weird-ass enemies that are kind of gross-looking.
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