Sam I Am
As a whole generation of gamers grows older, we can mark this year as a threshold. It is the swivel point at which we filter out old gaming practices from earlier decades, in a harsh but fair sentiment. As part of this, we all desperately placed our hopes in Duke Nukem Forever to prove that the classic first-person shooter can be brought with us into the forthcoming decade. Disgracefully, it only moved towards hammering another nail in the coffin. Due to this mishap, it seems that Serious Sam 3 may be the last chance for the classic uber-masculine, twitch shooter to survive the cull. All that back-pedalling does not exactly get us started in the right direction though.
Immediately noticeable upon starting up Serious Sam 3 is that everything feels the same. The menu, animations and sounds have not changed since Serious Sam: The Second Encounter. This, for the most part, is a good thing. Fans of the series do not want a massive overhaul in this sequel, they merely want a slap of new paint over those old familiar walls. That is precisely what is delivered with Serious Sam 3. The enemies, move, attack and die in the exact same way as they always did. A Kamikaze is easily tracked with their distinctive scream captured in full 3D stereo, herds of Werebulls echo around corners and do the usual front flip when killed. Half of the coding must have been a copy-paste job.
With this part of the game design already prescribed, it seems that Croteam have had plenty of time to make Serious Sam 3 an outstanding game to look at. While the series has always been associated with big, open areas; this time you may stand and gawp at the vistas they have been able to create. Without the hordes of enemies present, the realistic desert cities, dark tombs and sandy plains could easily be straight out of any other modern shooter this year. Displacing the extremely gory, alien shooting gameplay of Serious Sam over the top gives the impression that Croteam are forcibly holding the finger up to these apparently 'realistic' games. This feeling fades later on as the dull grey and brown aesthetics are the only ones Serious Sam 3 is painted with. The greens and blues of the previous entries in the series are very rare sightings, so much so that it didn't take a lot of persuading to get five co-op partners to do a raindance in the small square of luscious green grass we did manage to find.
As expected, Serious Sam 3 is a laugh out loud co-op experience; one that is not found in any other series. The campaign has been fitted out with cutscenes this time around, and while they do add even more hilarious one-liners to the game, it's clear from the votes in favour of skipping these scenes that no one really cares about them. Luckily, they are not intricate to the experience. The biggest feat that Serious Sam 3 is capable of, is providing 16 player co-op campaign. While I only managed to wiggle into a party of twelve musketeers, it's clear that the game holds up very well with a double digit party. Considering the enemies still outnumbered us 10 to 1, there was no noticeable lag the majority of the time. Dressed as pirates, cowboys, and stereotypical 70s disco dwellers; we paraded around the levels desperately racing to the next enemy spawn point or weapon pickup so as to kill more enemies than everyone else. The sight of such an odd band of characters armed to the teeth blasting disgusting alien bits all over each other, is definitely the game's highest selling point.
Traditional gameplay, gorgeous graphics, stable co-op fun.
Dull colours, stale versus modes, not as silly as it should be.