My goodness, how the hell have I slept on this series?! I remember seeing this game, back in the day, and thinking ‘What the hell is Serious Sam? Is that like BomberMan?’. I think Duke Nukem was out at the time, so I was persuaded to duke it out with the Duke instead. Having seen (and played first-hand) the last rendition of Duke Nukem, compared to this edition of Serious Sam, mistakes were definitely made on my behalf.
Serious Sam is a first-person, shooter game series developed by Croteam. Its first incarnation was in 2001, with various publishers releasing different chapters in the series, throughout the years. There have been 4 main series games and 11 spin-off games. This latest release, Serious Sam 4, is actually a storyline prequel to the previously released game: Serious Sam 3: BFE (2011), which in itself was a prequel to the original Serious Sam (2001). Confused yet?
Regardless, throughout them all you play as mercenary Sam “Serious” Stone, a member of the Earth Defense Force, whose mission is to save humanity by fighting against ‘Mental’, an Alien Overlord set on destroying Earth. This latest chapter into Sam’s life is brutal, funny, intense…and that’s just the intro level! So, let’s blast our way into Serious Sam 4!
Upon booting up the game and entering the story mode, you’re immediately dumped into a full-blown invasion style gun fight, as the human race defends against an Alien invasion force. As per usual, you play “Serious” Sam and with your mini-gun are told to rain down some epic gunfire on these extra-terrestrial invaders! Shortly into your rapid-fire onslaught, a rogue alien laser bomb takes you out of action and, before you can recover, a demon looking creature knocks you out cold!
The game then rewinds time (92 hours earlier to be specific) and you are convoying your way into Rome, Italy, in search of Father Mikhail, who has hidden the Holy Grail inside the Vatican. Yes, that Holy Grail, which now appears to serve as an ancient Alien Relic. Crazy!
The game shares similar traits to its FPS competitors; Doom and Quake, as it’s very easy to pick up and play, with aiming and click of the mouse being your main method of unleashing weaponry pain. As you trek your way through Rome, various Alien enemies will spawn, all of which have unique attacks and different methods on how to kill them. As you advance through the storyline, some basic enemies will advance in health and attack overtime, meaning that those cannon fodder style enemies from level 1 will respawn and prove difficult as the game progresses. Some fights are repetitive but FPSs often are and enemies do glitch out at times, but I’m sure these glitches will be patched out day one.
The in-game menus list your objectives, showcase your current inventory of weapons and gadgets, provide a dossier of in-game characters and also allow you to view any in-game items, clues, accessories, hidden items etc. that you’ve found along the way.
GRAPHICS + SOUND
Arguably, the strongest feature of this edition of Serious Sam is its visuals / art style. Having created and consistently upgraded their own game engine, Serious Engine, and have taken what’s common, what works and what to improve in the series and given it a complete overhaul! The character models, in-game worlds and enemies have their own inevitable destructibility features (walls breaking off, columns collapsing under gunfire, enemies losing limbs / blowing apart). All of which are just such a wonder to experience and you intensely defend your allies, oh, and Earth.
The soundtrack is an absolute beast! It has the synthy-drum / beats that were reminiscent in the famed Grand Theft Auto: Vice City series mixed with the gut punching, head banging deep guitar riffs, similar to those found in the latest incarnations of Doom. Every song is perfectly suited to the situations around you, and quite honestly, you’ll want to download it and have it as your background music as you play other games.
The dialogue and voice acting are absolutely hilarious! There are in-jokes, corny one liners and puns mixed with emotional character development, in your face seriousness and intense story driven moments.
I highly recommend Serious Sam 4! Though it seems to stand alone on its own, there is a sense of missing out (as I haven’t played the other games in the series). Do not make the same mistake I did – play them all today!
- Fantastic graphics
- Intense and addictive gameplay
- Wonderful soundtrack
- Some fights feel repetitive
- Enemies sometimes glitch through walls, leaving the story (and NPCs) idol