2011 should have been the year of old school shooters - the laughably delayed Duke Nukem Forever was finally released, shooter veterans id Software released RAGE and the indie developer Hard Reset tried with all its might to re-capture that feeling of unforgiving AI pummelling you like a sack fo potatoes. While these titles we admirable in their efforts, Serious Sam 3: BFE is the perfect title to switch your brain off and just enjoy a little of that ultra-violence.
What Serious Sam 3: BFE Got Right
No brains action - In true Serious Sam style, the action outweighs all storytelling techniques. Serious Sam 3: BFE delivers dozens of set pieces one after the other, all with unforgiving hordes of enemies who will try to take you out via brute force. Thankfully you will have some breathing room from time to time, but it will be necessary to regain your concentration as you run head first into another horde of enemies, all of whom want to rip your face off at any given moment. Time to switch the brains off gamers, this one is all about killing enemies and not much else.
Amazing co-op - Tired of playing through your favourite games with only 4 player co-op? Well Serious Sam 3: BFE takes it to a whole new level, supporting 16 players at once during the entirety of the campaign. While it may be a little too easy on the lower difficulties, if you crank that up to high you'll find a challenge worthy of this feature. If you want to play a good, fun and intense co-op game with friends, then it is worth checking out.
Hard as can be - The game may be lacking intelligent AI but it certainly poses a threat. Even veterans of the golden age of FPS will find Serious Sam 3: BFE a challenge with the difficulty cranked up. This isn't a walk in the park, which is exactly what makes it so refreshing when compared to a number of blockbuster shooters that have appeared on gaming shelves this year.
What Serious Sam 3: BFE Got Wrong
Feels like a grind - While Serious Sam 3: BFE is an obvious throwback to classic FPS shooters, it is the very reason why the game falls flat. While running through environments and slaughtering dozens of enemies is fun for a few hours, by the end of the game it feels like a chore. The game does little to reinvent itself, or keep the player guessing what is going to happen next. There is a difference between switching your brain off and being completely brain dead, and Serious Sam 3: BFE treads dangerously close between the two.
Graphics and audio are lacking - Croteam are a talented bunch who don't have the funding of the bigger studios. While that has been taken into account the graphics are slightly off the mark, particularly during indoor segments. Worst of all however is the industrial metal soundtrack, which is just irritating and completely out of place. Having said that the weapons and enemies do sound quite good, and ultimately dangerous.
The Final Verdict
Serious Sam 3: BFE is a throwback to the days of yore in the FPS genre, and for the most part it does a great job to re-create the feeling of the classic shooter. However thanks to repetitive gameplay, lethargic AI and a weaker storyline than your basic Atari 2600 game, it will lack weight for most gamers out there. Croteam have created a niche title that is worth checking out if you're an old school gamer, or a fan of the series.
By Stephen Heller