Serious Sam 3: BFE Review
Constant shooting, a healthy arsenal and little room to breathe
Serious Sam 3: BFE is a simple first person shooter developed by Croteam. It is a step back in time for the genre. Back to a time when there was no regenerating health or cover mechanics. You dealt with dozens of different enemy types at once. You carried enough explosive power to destroy a small country. Most importantly, you weren’t just taking part in the latest military conflict as part of a special task force. This was a time when shooters were about shooting in its purest form.
Sam 3 is actually a prequel to the previous titles in the franchise, also developed by Croteam. This time Sam is trying to activate a TimeLock device in Egypt. Once active it will transport an individual back in time. The story doesn’t get any more complex and aside from blowing up the Great Sphinx your job is to wade through copious amounts of enemies. Some shoot, some run and some run and shoot. Sam might make a handful of comments outside the rather crude cut scenes. Not all are funny but some dry jokes manage to bring forth a smile.
There aren’t many changes to the original game’s formula. Many of the enemy types are the same and so are the weapons. Some modern weapons have been added and you can even aim down the sights of a few. The game looks quite good visually although performance is inconsistent. It doesn’t usually have a problem with dozens of enemies at once. However destruction, auto-saving and world geometry bring frames down.
Sam 3 is a wake up call if you are used to the current crop of shooters. The first few levels of the game aren’t a good indication of the madness to come. They are fairly constrained and only introduce a handful of enemies with basic weaponry. You can smash foes with a sledgehammer or instant kill them with a melee attack. Hidden secrets and vials of single health litter the area. This kind of introduction was probably needed as players make the transition from corridor shooters to what Sam 3 offers in the later levels.
Not far into the game, you enter an open area and a single headless kamikaze soldier screams his way over a small crest. Sam puts him down and tells him to shut up. Then the screams begin. Only a few at first but soon dozens of these headless kamikaze soldiers are running toward you with explosives in their hands. At this point Sam differentiates itself from recent shooters. You can’t stay still and you can’t hide behind cover. You must run away and shoot. If a handful get close, you will be reloading a recent auto save. This type of constant bombardment and terror is the standard action state for Sam 3.
The hordes get more dangerous, they last a lot longer and it’s pretty much just an improved arsenal, chokepoints and better reflexes that get you through. The weaponry is good even if some early weapons don’t get used much later. An assault rifle works well for long ranges and the rocket launcher is powerful but limited on ammo. The C4 explosive destroys a huge area and the double barrel shotgun rips into enemies up close. The leash allows you to briefly stun enemies and, with enough charge, destroy them. During battle you’ll need to constantly look for health and ammo while dodging projectiles or firing your own. Quick switching between all weapons couldn’t feel any better.
The enemies in Sam 3 aren’t typically designed to be intelligent but there are some noticeable exceptions when the volume rises. Not all will run straight toward you, they make minor adjustments that waste a perfectly good rocket. If you get stuck in a corner or up against a wall the damage comes thick and fast. Space monkeys hide amongst the Egyptian pillars and leap when your back is turned. Witch-Brides float in the air and disrupt your vision and lift you above the ground. Biomechanoids hurl rockets or lasers in your direction and large bulls charge toward you.
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