Serious Sam 3: BFE (no, that does not stand for Best Friends Edition) stands as a testament to the old school of shooter, where levels were large and maze-like, enemy AI simply determined how fast they ran straight at you, keycards were still in vogue, and our heroes could carry twelve ridiculous weapons at once. As anachronistic as a game of this style is in 2011, it’s a welcome one - a reminder that the past was really fun, but sometimes progress can be a good thing.
Once again, the game takes place in an abandoned Egypt, and Sam needs to, well, shoot everything that moves, activate two alien artifacts, kill the Guardian of Time and save Earth. Along the way, Sam will crack wise with Duke Nukem-style one-liners, but unlike Duke’s latest foray, they won’t have you recoiling in horror each time. At worst you might groan at the cheesiness, but I had a good chuckle at a few of the better ones.
Curiously enough, the first couple levels of the game are poorly paced. When playing a Serious Sam title, one expects certain things, and picking off enemies in groups of two for the first 20-30 minutes is tedious. Luckily, by the end of the second level, things pick up, and you’ll be murdering enemies by the thousands in no time. Each level is enormous, packed with secret areas, and are well-suited to the massive combat scenarios you’ll encounter.
I’m not kidding when I say massive. The Sam games are notable for the sense of scale they present, and the same goes for the combat. By the time things get really rolling, your average combat setpiece will have thrown at you the following:
- Approximately 50-100 fodder soldiers with handguns, machine guns or shotguns
- About 50 spider-things who spit acid from afar
- 25-30 skeletal horses who charge you and hurl balls & chains at you
- Maybe 10-15 large melee enemies
- A wave of 5-10 bulls
- 20 bionic brains with legs who shoot lasers
- 5 bigger bionic brains who shoot rockets
- An assortment of other large enemies/demons who hurl fireballs or rockets at you.
Now keep in mind that this is EACH combat sequence, and most of the time you’re fighting all of those enemies at the same time. It’s exciting and you feel like a complete and utter badass when you manage to survive.