Serious Sam: BFE E3 2011 Hands-On Preview -- Serious Fun for a Serious ManBy Adam Rosenberg - Posted Jun 16, 2011
The “Serious Sam” title is a major misnomer in Cro-Team’s popular first-person shooter series. There is absolutely nothing serious about it. Equals parts Duke Nukem and Michael Bay, the grand strategy in your typical Serious Sam game can be summed up as follows: advance until enemies spawn, then back away while firing. Be sure to watch your flanks too. It is very much the same idea in Serious Sam 3: BFE, only it looks a LOT better than it ever has before thanks to a sparkly new game engine.
The HD remasters of the first two games look great, but BFE blows them out of the water. Even in its currently unfinished state – a “summer” release is planned – the textures show off a fine amount of detail, the environments crumble convincingly under sustained fire and Mental’s hordes come in huge waves. They stay behind in huge waves too; the Cro-Team rep conducting our E3 2011 demo pointed out that one advantage of the new engine is being able to keep all of the bloodied-up corpses lying around for you to marvel at.
Sam starts off the game with nothing more than his two bare hands, though those are thankfully quite useful as weapons on their own. Every enemy in the game has a unique melee death animation, often accompanied by a witty retort from our star. The first beastie encountered during the demo is a Gnaar, which is essentially a hairless cyclopean gorilla. Melee that sucker into a oblivion and watch as Sam yanks out its sole eyeball and then mutters something to the effect of putting one’s eye out. It’s gratuitous violence, sure, but it’s also hilarious.
The action eventually moves from the broken streets of an alien-invaded Egyptian city to the desert sands, complete with ancient stone sculptures and columns. No pyramids in the demo, but they’ll certainly make an appearance as well. Wave after wave of Beheaded Kamikaze and Beheaded Rocketeer pop up along the way, as well as a nasty pack of wolves and a couple of Scrapjacks, a new type of big and nasty baddie that fires rockets with abandon.
Fortunately, Sam has plenty of weapons to help him pull through. There is of course the standard array of firearms, including your basic pistol, shotgun, machine gun, and rocket launcher. The minigun is back, as is the cannon gun and its comically oversized cannonballs. There’s also a rather beastly semi-auto shotgun with explosive rounds and a sledgehammer, the game’s new melee weapon.
Also coming this summer, before the release of BFE, is the launch of Cro-Team’s Serious Sam Indie Series. Three games have been announced, though only one – Serious Sam: Double D – was shown off at E3. It is, in a word, awesome.
The side-scrolling twin-stick shooter plays a little like Contra, only with a Serious Sam twist. Early on in the game, Sam is presented with a very difficult encounter which will likely leave players dead. Almost immediately after that, the game’s unique Weapon Stacking ability unlocks. Think Looney Toons here. You can literally stack any weapons you have, one on top of the other, to create a comically large, multi-firing supergun.
While not much more than that was shown, it sounds like there’s a good amount of depth here, including challenge room-unlocking pies and multiple types of each weapon. Why settle for one machine gun when you can fire four simultaneously, with a chainsaw perched above them like a gasoline-smelling, blood-spattering cherry? Players will also be able to tweak visual elements like blood type, including one option for “donut” blood.
The humor is really apparent with every step our side-scrolling Sam takes. At one point, he falls into a deep pit with walls that are far too high to scale. Enemies spawn continuously, forcing our hero to stay on the offensive as he works out an escape. As it turns out, the act of killing IS his escape; enemy corpses eventually pile up into a hill high enough for Sam to escape. There’s also a new breed of Beheaded Kamikaze, giant-sized, scantily clad women hiding their chests with a pair of big, round cartoon-style bombs.
Serious Sam 3: BFE is the anti-Call of Duty, a completely unrealistic and over-the-top first-person shooter with 16-player campaign co-op and a collection of one-liners pulled straight from the Duke Nukem handbook. Double D is clearly a very different experience, but the Sam DNA is just as clearly there and in full effect. There is a place for tactical FPS combat, but you’re not going to find that here. Serious Sam is all about giving you a lot of guns, even more bullets and even MORE enemies to fire them into. Based on what we saw during our E3 demo, BFE delivers just that.