It’s become common knowledge that despite their frequently gratuitous violence, the Serious Sam games have a typically light-hearted presentation. Bright colours and comedy sound effects have belied the aggressive gameplay, creating a juxtaposition that is perhaps more common in videogames than any other medium. Here in Serious Sam 3: BFE however, all that is thrown out, and the visual rulebook is rewritten.
The preview build available to Electronic Theatre featured three levels, the first of which showcased a destroyed cityscape that would be just fitting in any Call of Duty game. Perhaps a nod to the players that have become accustomed to realism, the bright colours and cartoon textures have been replaced with gritty, blood soaked darkness, with detritus littering the streets and making its home in the fundamental gameplay design. In principle, Serious Sam 3: BFE is the same Serious Sam we all know and love, but unlike the recent comeback of Duke Nukem in Duke Nukem Forever, it’s a game that takes full advantage of the rapid increase in capability of graphics hardware.
The first and second levels Electronic Theatre had been given access to showcase Serious Sam 3: BFE’s capacity for human structure: combat within tightly designed spaces. The third level however, The Lost Temples of Nubla, begins as simply an open space. A desert level in which wandering too far off the correct (and often hard to find) path will see you come to a abrupt and frequently unfair end – as is the Serious Sam way – players are tasked with working their way through the sandstorm at an appropriate pace, pushing back the enemies will maintaining the sense of direction with a limited visibility. The sandstorm does eventually lift, but given the horde that you’re faced with by the time it does you may wish that it hadn’t: on this occasion, ignorance is most certainly bliss.
A concession to the modern, realistic design is that of the interactive objects. Weapons, health and other assorted power-ups are given a red glow, distinctive from a great distance and essential mid-combat, giving players the opportunity to rally themselves at pivotal moments before changing the pace of the battle; there is no returning to the action here, as wherever you may go the action will follow you. Within this level, the expansive fields of combat provide little of the luxury of cover, however the common changes in height of the scenery allow for some genuine tactics to develop courtesy of the jump button. It’s certainly possible to bring those infamous headless suicide bombers into your arsenal, encouraging them into a location that’s beneficial to you as they explode as opposed to simply taking them out at range.
Though the present build demands a considerably capable machine, there is a note in place that clearly states that the final build will be playable on more modest machines. To deliver this quality of design on an average system would certainly push the envelope in a number of areas, as Serious Sam 3: BFE is easily one of the finest looking games Electronic Theatre has been granted the pleasure of experiencing. Whether Croteam will be able to replicate this graphical fidelity on consoles remains to be seen, but at present there’s no reason to believe that even the most demanding PC gamers won’t be pleasantly surprised by Serious Sam 3: BFE’s visual quality. Serious Sam 3: BFE is set to be available on PC from 18th October 2011, and is surely destined to become one of the most highly praised FPS games of the autumn period.