Guest Author - James Shea
A fast-paced shooter that eschews the cover-based mechanics of games like Call of Duty, "Serious Sam 3" is an appeal to the glory days of the high-reflex, high-intensity FPS.
Serious Sam 3 is, in essence, designed to be like old FPSes like Doom, Quake, and earlier games in its own series. To this end, it does not have regenerating health, cover mechanics, realistic damage, or slow-paced gameplay. It instead offers fast movement, plentiful guns, and numerous hordes of enemies, attempting to appeal to the quick-fingered demographic of gaming's earlier years.
The game starts off somewhat questionably. The titular hero, Sam, is on a military helicopter en route to a city in Egypt that has had strange reports connected to an unearthed artifact. The helicopter is shot down by strange enemies, and Sam finds himself alone in a grey, dull city. And while this setup is pretty bad, it's at least not a big deal - it only takes a few intro levels for the game to get into the intense action it's known for.
Still, the game's overwhelming design is quasi-realistic: dull, largely featureless grey cities and buildings that are easy to get lost in because they're just not distinctive at all. The enemies are certainly unusual-looking, but it's mostly because they're designs taken from the previous game. Even the guns in this game are comparatively tame, with "realistic" reloading and iron sights. Despite the game's advertising, which mocked realistic shooters, the game is almost locked in the same mindset. It's still much more fast-paced than its contemporaries, but it's just dull in so many ways.
On the other hand, the basic action is still pretty great. One enemy in particular, the headless exploding kamikaze, keeps the game incredibly frantic because you ALWAYS have to be on the move. This gets even crazier when you can play with up to 15 other players cooperatively, leading to some seriously enjoyable gunplay. Yet these things aren't really "new" per se, they're just rehashes of the old game. And in that sense, Serious Sam 3 is pretty good, but it just doesn't add much on its own.
Overall, Serious Sam 3 is reasonably enjoyable, but it's much less so than it ought to be. The adrenaline-pumped gameplay is still there, but it's wrapped up in dull environments and weapons for no real reason. It might be worth picking up if you're looking for classic-style gameplay, but if you are, there's no reason not to just play old games.
I purchased this game with my own funds for the purpose of doing this review.