“Line up! I’m offering free tickets to hell” is something that any of the numerous icons of action hero machismo of the 90s would have been proud to hear. 2011 though is hardly the 90s, and hearing a line like that is enough to make us twitch our faces like we just had a whiff of something really nasty. Like Duke Nukem: Forever, for one.
That line is from Serious Sam 3: BFE, a first-person shooter cut from the same manly loincloth as that game we just mentioned. It is however, by far, the better game, and the one we’d rather take a good, long sniff of. It’s a hell of a rush. It’s an old-school shooter done right—a nod to Doom titles of the past, where the action is all about big guns, power-ups and endless throngs of aliens, and demonic creatures looking to tear you up.
This isn’t Halo, Modern Warfare, Call of Duty or Deus Ex. As such, Serious Sam 3: BFE is a refreshing, albeit, bloodier change of pace. Not to knock on those games, but the genre of modern shooters has been getting kind of predictable. Whereas those games try to draw you in with a story, scripted set-piece battles, and sometimes, a slight dash of RPG elements, SS3 urges you to shoot, shoot a lot, and then when you’re done shooting, shoot again. If you had been playing first-person shooters during the days when Doom and Quake reigned, SS3 should remind you how much you’ve missed simply blasting through mindless scum, and little regard for anything else.
The action really is all that SS3 has going for it, and it’s an experience that would not have been possible without the near-perfect controls and the meaty feedback. It’s smooth and accurate, negating any need to wrestle with the controls, thus allowing you to focus on honing your skills. There is a good variety of weapons, from the genre-standard shotguns, skull-crushing hammers, to huge weapons of mass destruction. The game makes it a point to make each weapon very distinctive in the way it handles, which adds punch to an already intense game.
And things could get really chaotic. Like Left 4 Dead, you’ll be facing off with legions of creatures at one time, hundreds of them, across different varieties, each of which can be dealt with in a certain manner or a certain weapon. You’ll need to be quick on your fingers as you backpedal, nimble enough to avoid their lunging attacks, while trying to eat away at their number. Clear the area, and you get to enjoy a little break. Go on to the next field or chamber, and the action ratchets up again. In SS3, the adrenaline is literally served in waves.
By all accounts, Serious Sam 3: BFE is simple, mindless fun, and is an explosive reminder of the genre’s golden age when all that mattered was to kill or be killed. It couldn’t have come at a better time, because we’re honestly getting fatigued of the usual FPS offerings, and the visceral trappings of SS3 got our attention again.
Serious Sam 3: BFE is developed by Croteam and published by Devolver Digital. It is now available for Windows.