Serious Sam 3: BFE and an elastic band – so many similarities…
The amazing elastic band. They are an incredible invention that have so many uses – they can be stretched to hold together items of much larger size, they can be used to join things, they can even be held between two fingers to create a musical instrument of sorts. But let’s face it, what we all really want to do is ping it at someone.
It is childish, pointless and may even cause someone harm. But, on the other hand, it would be so much fun and may even result in the other person firing it back. Oh, the frivolities!
Where the hell am I going with this?, you may be wondering. Well, in many ways the simple yet satisfying act of firing an elastic band at someone is very much like Serious Sam 3: BFE. I will get onto my reasoning in a moment.
There was a time, not so long ago, when shooters existed only on the PC and they were a different beast completely. But as time has passed, the FPS made its way onto the home consoles and they evolved, adding all manner of new twists such as regenerating health, cover and limited inventories. Then there was the addition of experience, levels and skill trees. With all of this, the simplistic shooters that many grew up with were quickly forgotten.
But this year two names, two heroes, returned and attempted to bring back something of the old style shooters for the modern gamer. Duke Nukem and Serious Sam are both very similar characters, both offering pure brawn over brains, but both ended up with very different games. Whilst Duke Nukem Forever made its way onto all formats, it universally disappointed both fans and newcomers alike. It was not the game that everyone hoped it would be.
As the release of Serious Sam 3: BFE approached, like many others I was concerned that this game would be the same. I needn’t have worried though, Croteam have done a brilliant job of capturing what made the early shooter so damn good, whilst bringing it almost up to date.
The BFE in the title refers to the fact that this game is set before Sam’s first game, the First Encounter. Based entirely in Egypt, the player will find themselves fighting off hordes and hordes of alien creatures in or around sand covered environments, desert towns and ancient monuments. The story begins with Sam being sent to rescue a Professor who holds the key to stopping the current alien invasion. Whilst there is a story that runs through the game, the emphasis is all on the action – which brings me back to the elastic band…
Much like shooting an elastic band at someone, Serious Sam 3 is a childish endeavor. Taking the gameplay back in time, the game is all about shooting more and more bizarre looking aliens with more and more powerful and unusual weapons. The core action which the gamer will employ involves holding down the fire button whilst running backwards as headless suicide bombers, skeletal cow creatures and evil, one-eyed Domo-Kun clones come running at you in their dozens. Body parts will be flying everywhere while the player does their best to avoid the onslaught of bullets, cannonball bolas and rockets. It is not clever, but that doesn’t stop it from being very difficult on all but the easiest settings.
The game is also quite pointless. The story is non-existent and the objectives really involve traveling from one enemy encounter to the next. There are no puzzles to tax the brain and no evolution of the character, with the exception of improving Sam’s firepower by finding new weapons. The health doesn’t regenerate and players will have to search their environment for health pick-ups and ammo. There is no point at all beyond simple fun, which is kind of refreshing.
Unlike the simple joy of firing an elastic band at someone, SS3 will not result in a possible lawsuit or being fired from your job, but that doesn’t mean that the player will escape unscathed. The gameplay doesn’t change much in Serious Sam 3, so there is a very real possibility of RSI after an extended gaming session. It is also easy to have feelings hurt by smack talk through the games competitive multiplayer. If you are of the more sensitive persuasion but still fancy being humiliated with friends, co-operative survival mode will keep you laughing until you die, which will happen quite quickly as the waves of aliens come quickly.
Much like our beloved elastic band, Serious Sam 3: BFE is an understated source of fun that will quite regularly spring back and slap you in the face. And it is so worth it. The only thing missing is a console release and a chance to show modern shooters that cover is for wimps.