Electronic Theatre Preview: Serious Sam 3: BFE

The Serious Sam games have developed a reputation for their madcap gameplay over the years. It’s not just a simple case of throwing dozens of enemies at you at any one time, it’s the variety in design of those enemies that challenges the player to […]
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The Serious Sam games have developed a reputation for their madcap gameplay over the years. It’s not just a simple case of throwing dozens of enemies at you at any one time, it’s the variety in design of those enemies that challenges the player to adapt their tactics based on the selection appearing in front – or behind – them at any one time. Typically unrelenting, the games begin with just one or two enemies approaching the player (or team of players), training them with the basic weaponry, before lining them up buy the dozen for the player to knock down by the end of the level. Serious Sam 3: BFE is no different in this respect, but still packs plenty of surprises in its opening sequence.

As with most First-Person Shooter (FPS) games, Serious Sam often starts with a slow-reloading pistol as your only tool. The chainsaw has always been a grin-inducing close combat weapon acquired soon after starting, but here in Serious Sam 3: BFE the player isn’t afforded the luxury of such capable weaponry, beginning with nothing but their bare hands.

After that brutal and gruesome introduction, the player soon comes across the first weapon featured in the game, a sledgehammer. Slow and heavy, a single blow results in a kill, however missing the enemy can incur plenty of damage as you wait to realign for a second attempt. The familiar videogaming skill of being able to analyse frames of animation and enemy patterns is most certainly required, even at this early point in the game. This is of course a continuation of the standard established over a decade ago with the original Serious Sam games; a differential from the modernisation of the Duke Nukem formula in Duke Nukem Forever, as while the lengthy development cycle at 3D Realms saw much of the challenge removed and the game age prematurely, Serious Sam 3: BFE brings the formula of Serious Sam bang up-to-date without ignoring the advantages of modern hardware.

The level design is frequently astounding, offering the player several avenues to progress and yet eventually pulling them through a bottleneck for the balancing of a set-piece. The player is often encouraged to open themselves up, walking into dangerous territory by way of potential gain – a power-up or health offered as a bargaining tool for taking risks. The original designs must be some of the most comprehensive blueprints videogaming has ever seen, as just in this first map the layout of your path through the city, twisting and turning back on itself, is staggering in it finite detail.

Of course, as would be expected, it’s not long before the kill-‘em-all-before-they-kill-you gameplay returns to Serious Sam 3: BFE, rounding out the first level with the welcome return of the headless suicide bombers. And yes, that classic set-piece of hearing the screams as they slowly begin to appear over the crest of a hill is present and correct, and just as terrifying as it ever was. In that lies the ethos of Serious Sam 3: BFE, as far as the preview build would contest, in that this is simply the third piece of a growing puzzle, but one that takes full advantage of the hardware presented to it. Serious Sam 3: BFE is proving to be an engrossing challenge, and if it’s not already on your watchlist, it most certainly should be by now.

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