Author: Sean Ridgeley
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Sunday, November 27th, 2011
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/serious_sam_3/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.
Two games and two remakes later, Croteam is back with Serious Sam 3: BFE, a balls-out shooter serving as the latest installment in the longstanding series. For now, it's PC only -- console releases will come in time.
BFE has a long list of submodes across the main single player, co-op, and multiplayer modes. Going solo, you can opt for the campaign, or stand up against endless hordes of enemies for as long as you can in Survival; in co-op, it's more or less the same, but with different options for lives, and in multiplayer, you get multiple varieties of Deathmatch, plus Capture the Flag and two versions of Beast Hunt (kill as many AI enemies as you can for points). Unfortunately the multiplayer community for BFE isn't exactly booming (at least not yet), so many of the modes barely apply.
The multiplayer modes are a reasonable amount of fun, serving up fast-paced arcade-style shooter action, but the best times to be had are in the co-op versions of the Campaign and Survival modes, where you and up to 15 other players can go up against hordes and hordes of aliens and monsters. Both can certainly be played solo for a good time, but with 16 players onboard with you in co-op, going alone truly feels about 16 times less fun, which says more about co-op than it does single player. While there are more enemies in co-op, it could use quite a bit more again to better extrapolate the difficulty and mayhem, as it's often a cakewalk (albeit a damn fun cakewalk). Note at least the first go-round is best played in 'Classic' mode, as there are infinite respawns (deaths deduct points only), so it's purely about the action (unless you care about leaderboards).
A long list of weaponry ups the fun factor considerably, from a freaking cannonball launcher to a grenade launcher/sniper rifle hybrid (yeah, why not), to an electric lasso of sorts, to my personal favourite: the minigun -- just to name a few. Unlike that silly Duke Nukem Forever, any weapon can be accessed at any time.
Rounds typically start off a little slow, building up gradually until the majority of the screen is covered in what seem like endless hordes of baddies, plus cannonballs, rockets, bullets, and whatever else. Combined with the surprisingly stellar soundtrack, it's moments like these that provide a thrill like no other game.
The campaign spans a varied 12 missions, culminating in the epic The Guardian of Time level, which takes place throughout a sweeping desert canyon with gorgeous lighting. Survival mode, sadly, features just two maps (one of them based on Guardian), but it's likely more will come, and if not, the game is fully moddable, with an editor readily available. Wonderfully, split screen co-op and multiplayer are supported, though it's limited to one keyboard and mouse, so you may have to invite your console peasant friend over to make good use of it.
Gunplay feels very much the norm for arcade-style shooters, and movement standard enough as well, perhaps most closely compared to Call of Duty. I really don't fancy the massive head bobbing in either game, and unfortunately turning the option here for it off doesn't seem to do much. Still, it's rarely something anyone will be thinking about with all the action going on. New introductions include sprinting, ironsights, and reloading, which some series fans will turn their noses up at, but do work well for what they are, and in the latter two cases, can be ignored if desired.
Graphics on the new Serious Engine 3.5 are indeed impressive, with a hugely long list of effects going on at all times. Textures for the most part are of very high quality, with very pleasing lighting and effects to match. In a lovely added touch, you can adjust the graphics filter using a list of options like Noir and Vibrant for when you're feeling strange, or just prefer a slightly different style.
Serious Sam 3 is a PC game to the bone, boasting the longest list of graphics options I've ever seen (separated by CPU, GPU speed, and GPU memory, even), dedicated servers, spectating, the aforementioned full-on mod support, a command console, and many gameplay, control, and visual options, extending even to a framerate display and HUD scaling.
The major downside as of now is performance: on a 2GB 6950 GPU, X6 1055T CPU, 8GB DDR3 RAM, with 11.11a drivers, framerate varies from 20 to 120, depending on area; average framerate is roughly 50, with frequent stuttering. Tweaking graphics options has little effect, excepting MSAA. The community as of now seems divided about in two performance-wise between those who are running fine and those who are far from it, so know that for now at least, you're taking a risk if expecting buttery smooth gameplay. Even in this state, however, it's still quite playable.
Additionally, field of view adjustment is restricted to the command console, all server options but mode aren't accessible to players (just admins), and there's an absence of sorting options for ping, player count, etc. These are pretty minor complaints, though, putting only a small dent in an otherwise stellar feature list.
In its finer moments, which occur fairly often, Serious Sam 3: BFE represents some of the most fun you can have in gaming; at times it'll feel like youre back in the 90s/early 2000s again, only without the crappy polygons and pixels. Although the community for it isn't where it should be as of now, arcade shooter fans should nevertheless consider it a must.
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