TPG Second Look: Serious Sam 3 Preview

By Nicholas Krawchuk

A while back, there was a series of shooters that parodied the over-the-top masculine humor and gameplay of Duke Nukem.  This game was called Serious Sam. It threw the player into Ancient Egypt, then tossed a few thousand baddies in with you. These enemies ranged from a bizarre race of aliens called, The Gnaar, to the flat out ridiculous which included men with no heads, bombs for hands who then chased you down and exploded once they reached their target. It was some of the most insanely fun gameplay I’d ever been through at the time.  In less than a month, we will see more of the same craziness when Sam returns in Serious Sam 3: BFE.

Sam is not a subtle man, and thus the potentially coherent plot is advanced by a series of explosions. Earth is being invaded by an extraterrestrial life form called Mental and his army of aliens. Your mission is to activate an ancient artifact called, The Time-Lock and go back in time to Egypt, setting the stage for the original game.  From modern abandoned towns to the depths of ancient pyramids and temples, you blast your way through at a dizzying pace.  Your missions are guided from your headquarters, though it’s not really explained what organization you are a part of. When HQ can’t find a solution fast enough, Sam’s response is usually to blow it up and this method causes the destruction of many things, including the Sphinx and the inside of more than one temple. It mainly serves as a backdrop to the action and insanity of the game, and in that regard it succeeds.

Think of the biggest wave of enemies you’ve ever seen in a game. Now multiply that by a million and you’ll have a rough and slightly exaggerated estimate of how big the armies you’ll find in Serious Sam 3 are. Every single one of them is relentless and charges at you until one of you is dead. Between difficulty levels, nothing changes but how hard your enemies attack and how much health and armor you can have. On normal difficulty, you have a maximum of 100 health (excluding bonuses from some health pickups), and enemies can hit you pretty hard – -powerful enough to kill you a few good times before you manage to complete a level. On the tourist difficulty, your health jumps up to 200, it regenerates, and enemies don’t hit enough to take much health away before it jumps back up.

The game’s slogan is “No cover. All man.” and it sticks to this statement. If you try hiding behind cover you will learn quickly that it isn’t much use – strafing and running backwards are going to be your main form of defense, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up backed into a corner quite often because you missed a door. You have a huge arsenal of weapons at your disposal and they serve a variety of different purposes. When you’re being chased by hordes of smaller enemies, you’ll want to use a minigun or an assault rifle. When there are larger enemies, you’ll want to use one of the many explosive weapons at your disposal. NETRISCA, the in-game database of enemies, weapons, and levels, is present but seems unorganized. Instead of being sorted into categories, everything is now lumped into one main area.  Hopefully, this will be addressed in the official release.

On any difficulty where health doesn’t regenerate, pickups are few and far between which both a blessing and a curse when found in large quantities. On the plus side, free ammo and health. The negative is it usually means you’re preparing for a boss fight or a seemingly never-ending series of waves that is used in place of a boss fight. Boss fights are huge and epic in scope; the larger ones can take nearly ten minutes and even the shorter ones could be considered longer than most fights in modern games. One especially cool part of the boss fights is that they aren’t simply find the weak spot and hit the boss until it dies. Instead, Serious Sam 3 goes with the, “shoot wherever until it dies” method, but at the same time, dodge the volley of rockets and stampede of enemies coming from every direction.  Just make sure you don’t run out of ammo! Serious Sam 3 opts for skill-based fights rather than not being blind-based fights and that’s something a lot of AAA developers could take note of.

The game runs on Serious Engine 3.5, an improved version of the engine used for the HD remakes of the original two games. It looks a bit better than those, but definitely a lot better than the originals. There are huge open spaces with highly detailed textures everywhere you look. The game feels a bit static near the start, but as you progress, the environments will be more destructible. This can be used to your advantage and is frequently used by your enemies. The music is great and ranges from Egyptian themed songs to heavy metal that plays to make boss fights feel more intense and manly. The sound quality is good and the game would be very difficult if it was done poorly.  While you are shown which direction you are being shot from, there are enemies like the headless kamikazes which don’t damage you until they are right on top of you.

The game is shaping up to be a great addition to the series.  As of this preview, the game is only missing one story mission and its survival mode which is something that is a perfect fit for this kind of game. Serious Sam 3 is slated for release on November 22 and is available with a 10% off pre-purchase bonus on Steam.

Find out what Mike Bezek thought of our first preview for Serious Sam 3 here.

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