Sam is back, its been a while, but there are still demons asses to kick!
Ah, Serious Sam! The legendary, absolutely bonkers FPS from Croteam that kicked off in the early 2000's. A mix of skill and endurance, without needing too much of a brain get through, Serious Sam lovingly crafted a world where monsters and bullets were a match made in Heaven. With the announcement of a fourth title after Serious Sam 3: BFE in November 2011, it's easy to say that Sam fans have been hanging on for some time looking for that serious action.
With such a long time in development, it was no stranger to big promises--including the threat of putting 100,000 enemies on your screen! This sounds awesome right? My whole monitor filled with baddies as far as Sam's eyes can see coming straight at me, years of development to ensure nothing but the best, even Croteam was still heading it! The reality though, is sadly not where those expectations lied.
Is it good? Well, in so many words...I hate to say it, but no. It feels nothing like a Serious Sam game from start to finish, the only real connections being with the assets/enemies and the Sam voice overs. At every turn it feels like a missed opportunity, overshadowed by visions of grandeur...and well, it sucks as a huge Serious Sam fan. I love the franchise as one of my top favourites, but this is like Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull level stuff right here. Let's discuss.
When you think of Serious Sam, you think of the vast Egyptian desert and temple levels, jungle walks around massive waterfalls, things of that nature. For Serious Sam 4 we're thrown into a Call of Duty like atmosphere--a war-torn, modern warfare streets of Italy. Visually, there's nothing wrong with it--in fact, it's pretty in that 'I made my game in Unity' sort of way, but looking past the beige palette only makes you feel like you're in a re-run of some smash hit from 2006. It doesn't feel like it has any identity, but one step further--why would it? The game pushes the narrative so hard, wants you to be in a storyline so bad constantly...but since when did Serious Sam need a serious story? Just drop me in an arena with wave after wave, Sam saying some Duke Nukem one-liners and we're good to go!
Alright. The nitty gritty. The combat. Arena fights, just like I said up there, wave after wave. That's what we want--and you do get it...technically. Some favourite old faces show up to eat lead, which is nice, along side some new pains in your backside. No complaints here, they each have their own strategy to take them down just like in the classics. There are side missions that are optional which can be quite fun too...something to the tune of 'go hunt down five clues to get a thing', which I'm totally on board with. More to kill along the way right? Plus, despite what I said about Call of Dutyland themed levels, there are some cool hellscapes along the way that even have a creepy feel to them.
Reader, I'm not going to lie. As a serious Serious Sam fan it's very hard for me to get on board with this installment. I know they tried with some big ideas, but it just feels like every single one of them fell miles short of the intended mark. If you're a die hard fan of the franchise like me, then no doubt you'll want this--but take my word for it and wait for a deep cut or sale. Otherwise, you'll just find yourself frustrated that you've spent upwards of £30 on what feels like a rushed, buggy mess covered in your favourite coat of Sam paint. Maybe the patches will be there some day to sort out the technical issues, but it still won't change the fact that this doesn't feel like a serious game at all.