Warning: Sam is not a licensed Optometrist. He will not correct your glaucoma.
The weapons are familiar, but fun. You have your basic machine guns, shotguns and rocket launcher, but a few really stand out as fun. The minigun (that you never have to reload, natch) will make short work of enemy waves, the Devastator, which is basically a rocket/grenade launcher with a sniper scope, and of course Sam’s Cannon. Yes, a cannon. It shoots cannonballs that are larger than Sam himself. A new addition are contextual melee attacks where you can do such things as rip an enemy’s eye out/head off or even pull out their heart Mola Ram-style. (Kali-mah!)
I mentioned keycards in my opening paragraph, and SS3 will brutally remind you why games have moved on. While the huge levels are great combat arenas, there are two extended sequences in the game which require you to not only grab a keycard, but then use THAT keycard to find four seals hidden around the area to open a locked door. Like any good old-school game, there are no tooltips or hints to nudge you in the right direction, so unless you’re some kind of savant (or playing in co-op), expect to spend some extra time hunting ‘em down.
So the campaign is fun, albeit familiar. Let’s talk co-op. Specifically, let’s talk sixteen-player co-op. You heard that right. Serious Sam 3 supports 16-player drop-in/drop-out co-op either online or on a LAN across all of its game modes. Sixteen. In a shooter. Hell, it even supports 4-player splitscreen online on a PC using a mix of gamepads and mouse keyboard.
Sixteen players may seem like an awful lot, but Croteam has done a few things that keep things fun. Most importantly, all items are dropped for every player. There’s no competition for armor, health or ammunition. With such large levels, getting separated is a real possibility, so each player’s location & distance from you is helpfully displayed. The idea of having sixteen Serious Sams running through the world is kind of silly, so all of the multiplayer character models are available to use in co-op. Me? I was an old man in a gold sequined suit.
The campaign mode is easily one of the most chaotic experiences I’ve ever had in a game, but let’s back out a bit. You have several options for co-operative play. There’s Standard, which gives each player 3 lives per level before they must spectate. Classic allows everybody to respawn infinitely, and Coin-Op grants the entire team only 3 lives to share. Don’t like any of these options? You can set up a custom game and control everything from whether enemies scale to the number of players, player respawn counters and even the grace period in which a player is invulnerable post-respawn. Oh, and infinite ammo.