Serious Sam 3: BFE
Gameplay 8
Graphics 7
Sound 9

Serious Sam 3: BFE is not as colorful or over the top as its predecessor, but it is still a great title for players in search of frantic action. The game slows down a little too much in some parts, but few other games can come close in terms of the sheer mayhem when all hell breaks out. It is definitely a game that is best enjoyed with some friends as there are plenty of co-op modes and options to keep everyone happy.

Gameplay: The campaign starts a little slow, but overall the game still has plenty of action.

Graphics: It is not as colorful as Serious Sam 2 and definitely shows its age, but some of the set pieces and enemies remain impressive.

Sound: The soundtrack is excellent, and the iconic enemy sounds are all present

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Serious Sam 3: BFE

Developer: Croteam | Publisher: Devolver Digital | Release Date: 2011 | Genre: First Person Shooter / Action / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Everyone knows that Sam “Serious” Stone traveled back in time to save humanity from an extraterrestrial overlord named Mental. He accomplished this thanks to an ancient alien artifact called the Time Lock, which was designed for time-traveling shenanigans. Serious Sam: The First Encounter was a fun romp through ancient Egypt with Sam laying waste to hordes of enemies sent by Mental to stop him. The story continued in Serious Sam: The Second Encounter and Serious Sam 2, but Serious Sam 3: BFE takes a step back to where it all began.

Serious Sam 3: BFE is set in the 22nd century, where Mental’s invading forces have all but destroyed Earth. The last hope for humanity is finding a way to activate a mysterious alien artifact, which allows a single person to travel back in time via an inter-dimensional portal. Serious Sam is the man tasked with finding a way to activate the dormant artifact. Still, his task is complicated by Mental’s alien army occupying Egypt, where the device is located. However, Sam is undaunted by the magnitude of the task ahead of him and gleefully proceeds to take on an entire army by himself.

None of the Serious Sam titles ever took themselves very seriously, and part three is no exception. Although it doesn’t veer quite as far into absurdity as the second game, it still thumbs its nose at many first-person shooter conventions. Back when SS3 was first released, the market was saturated with first-person shooters competing in realism and grittiness. So fans were curious to see whether Croteam would adapt their style for these new audiences or continue on the rather strange path tread by Serious Sam 2 released six years prior. The result, surprisingly, was a little bit of both.

Serious Sam 3 opens with Sam crash landing in a war-torn Egyptian city that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Call of Duty or Battlefield game. The bright, primary colors of Serious Sam 2 were nowhere to be seen, while brown, yellow, and gray made up most of the new palette. The action also starts a lot more sedate with Sam having to navigate through winding city streets and buildings as he takes down the odd enemy with a handgun or sledgehammer. However, as players progress through the game, more familiar weapons begin to make an appearance, and the levels start to open up in favor of the enemy-laden vistas that made the original games such an exhilarating thrill.

Visually, SS3 opted for a much more realistic look, which is not necessarily a bad thing compared to the cartoony style of SS2. However, it does mean that the environments look a bit generic, despite the Egyptian theme that is a series staple. In addition, most of the levels are set in dark ruins, bombed-out cities, or desert landscapes, which means that they are not exactly memorable. Thankfully, apart from the slow-paced opening levels, your time will be spent on shooting and dodging the hordes of enemies heading your way instead of staring at the scenery.

A few of the classic enemies, such as the beheaded kamikazes, Kleer skeletons, and Biomechanoids, make a return along with new ones like cloned soldiers, Scrapjacks, and Khnums. Some of the enemies, such as the Gnaars, also received new designs for this game. None of the goofy enemies introduced in Serious Sam 2 are in this game, which is probably a good thing. Despite its age, the game still looks decent enough, especially when facing down a small army of enemies. However, we noticed a few graphical anomalies, such as flickering shadows, that show up occasionally.

The audio is also still good, with moody background music for the quiet bits and rock or metal kicking in when the action ramps up. All of the enemies also have their own distinct sounds, so you’ll immediately know whether or not the dust cloud approaching you contains Sirian Werebulls or Kleer Skeletons. Sam is also still as arrogant as ever and will let out the occasional quip or funny one-liner. However, most of the talking is reserved for the few short cut-scenes that bookmark some levels.

Although we were a bit worried about the slow start, Serious Sam 3 still delights in throwing hordes of enemies at players for some all-out carnage. Furthermore, the game also scoffs at notions like regenerating health and cover, so your survival depends on outmaneuvering enemies and releasing a non-stop barrage of bullets their way. Thankfully, there’s no limit on the number of weapons Sam can carry, and with 13 at his disposal, there’s no shortage of ways to dispose of foes. Even unarmed Sam is a force to be reckoned with and can rip out eyes, hearts, and even heads of enemies straying too close. These melee attacks are devastating but best left for picking off stragglers unless you want to get overrun. Staying alive requires players to collect health and armor pick-ups, but we didn’t notice any of the power-ups from previous games make an appearance.

Once the action kicks off, Serious Sam veterans will feel right at home with weapons like the minigun, rocket launcher, and even cannon to dispose of foes. The game even stays close to its old-school roots with numbers for your health, armor, and score. Moreover, mowing down hordes of enemies is still very satisfying, and there are enough difficulty settings to accommodate players of all skill levels. The game doesn’t really have much in the way of puzzles to solve, but some of the closed environments can be very maze-like, which is not helped by the lack of a map. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of secrets to find while making your way through the levels.

One area where Serious Sam 3 shines is multiplayer, which is arguably more fun than the single-player. The game allows up to sixteen players to play together online, and even with just four players, it is absolute mayhem. Unexpectedly, there’s also a 4-player split-screen mode for those who want to crowd around the same computer. Playing through the campaign in co-op is a blast, and there are different variations, such as standard co-op, classic co-op, coin-op co-op, and more. Even the versus modes are not entertaining enough with the likes of Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Last Man Standing, Instant Kill, and much more. One of the most frantic modes is Survival, where the goal is simply to stay alive for as long as possible while hordes of enemies come pouring in. This mode felt the closest to the spirit of the original games, so it’s a pity it only has five maps. Thankfully, Serious Sam 3 has a level editor, which allows you to create your own levels, MODS, and textures, to name a few. It’s probably not something that most players will dabble in, but it does mean there’s plenty of content on the Steam Workshop.

At this point, it’s been a while since Serious Sam 3: BFE was released, and the game definitely shows its age in some areas. The game can become a little tedious when playing alone, especially during the slower sections, but co-op remains a highlight. It is still an action-packed experience, especially if you invite a few friends, crank up the difficulty and dive headlong into the experience.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP 32-bit (with service pack 2 or 3)
  • Processor: Dual-core from Intel or AMD at 2.0 GHz
  • Memory: 1GB
  • Graphics: nVidia GeForce 7800/7900/8600 series, ATI/AMD Radeon HD2600/3600 or 1800/X1900 series
  • DirectX®: 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 4GB free hard drive space
  • Sound: DirectX9.0c Compatible Sound Card
  • OS: Windows 7 64-bit
  • Processor: Quad-core from Intel (i5/i7-series) or AMD (Phenom II) at 3.0 GHz
  • Memory: 4GB
  • Graphics: nVidia GeForce 480/580 GTX, ATI/AMD Radeon HD 5870/6970
  • DirectX®: 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 4GB free hard drive space
  • Sound: DirectX9.0c Compatible Sound Card
  • OS: OS X version Leopard 10.5.8, Snow Leopard 10.6.3, or later.
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB
  • Hard Disk Space: 6 GB
  • Video Card: nVidia GeForce GT 120/9600M/320M, or ATI (AMD) Radeon HD 4670. Intel integrated GPUs are not supported.
  • Processor: Intel i3/i5 Quad Code 2.7+ GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB
  • Hard Disk Space: 6 GB
  • Video Card: nVidia GeForce 8800/9800/260, or ATI (AMD) Radeon HD 4870
  • OS: Linux Ubuntu 12.04
  • Processor: Dual-core from Intel or AMD at 2.8 GHz
  • Memory: 2GB
  • Graphics: nVidia GeForce 8600/9600GT, ATI/AMD Radeon HD2600/3600 (Graphic drivers: nVidia 310, AMD 12.11)
  • OpenGL: 2.1
  • Hard Drive: 4GB free hard drive space
  • Sound: OpenAL Compatible Sound Card
  • OS: Linux Ubuntu 12.04
  • Processor: Quad-core from Intel (i5-series) or AMD (Phenom II) at 3.0 GHz
  • Memory: 4GB
  • Graphics: nVidia GeForce 280/460 GTX, ATI/AMD Radeon HD 4870/5770 (Graphic drivers: nVidia 310, AMD 12.11)
  • OpenGL: 2.1
  • Hard Drive: 4GB free hard drive space
  • Sound: OpenAL Compatible Sound Card

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