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Serious Sam 3: BFE Review

  • First Released Apr 23, 2011
  • Reviewed Dec 8, 2011
  • PC

Crisp visuals and legions of enemies struggle to invigorate the lackluster Serious Sam 3: BFE.

Sam Stone has made his name in video games by taking on relentless hordes of aggressive enemies and laying them all low with big guns and snarky quips. In Serious Sam 3: BFE, the legions of enemies and deadly arsenal return, but the novelty of Sam's run-and-gun-and-run-some-more style is long gone. This time around, the pace has slowed down and Sam's macho shtick has grown wearisome, draining much of the energy that once fueled this manic shooter series. Serious Sam 3 is a good-looking game that can still deliver some excitement, but the joy of annihilating crazy aliens is disappointingly diminished.

The Earth has been in a rough spot for quite some time in Sam Stone's world, though BFE actually takes place before Serious Sam: The First Encounter. The place in the timeline hardly matters, however, because Sam's objectives to locate downed crewmembers or gain entry to underground temples merely serve as waypoints on his ceaseless crusade to destroy the invading aliens. In previous games, Sam's brash attitude provided some amusement along the way, but his hypermasculine wisecracks come off as trite and predictable in Serious Sam 3.

This leaves the burden of entertainment squarely on the shooting. From a humble sledgehammer, you build your arsenal throughout the campaign to encompass a variety of guns that spew bullets, lasers, explosives, and even oversized cannonballs. The double-barreled shotgun is a deadly standout, as is the ammo-devouring minigun. Given the outlandish nature of Sam's foes, it's disappointing that the guns aren't more inventive, but they all fire with a solid sense of impact, thanks to good sound effects and sharp visual design. The environments also sport a lot of nice details, from rubble-strewn streets to crystal-clear water, though despite their technical prowess, they feel a bit bland. Apart from some claustrophobic sections, most levels give you plenty of room to maneuver as you gun down your foes, and each map hides a bevy of secrets that reward diligent explorers with health, armor, ammunition, keys to other secrets, or even new weapons.

The Egypt Tourism Authority is really slacking on the security front.
The Egypt Tourism Authority is really slacking on the security front.

The more guns you acquire, the better, because there are seemingly endless hordes of aliens to kill. Lurching robo-humans, sprinting skeletons, one-eyed monsters, and chittering arthropods are the most prevalent threats early on, but later levels bring charging bulls, shrieking harpies, and a variety of unpleasant flesh-metal hybrids. Different weapons are better at killing certain types of enemies than others, so as you run around, it behooves you to actively switch guns to outmaneuver your foes. Fast, ferocious, and numerous are the classic characteristics of enemies in Serious Sam, but it takes a while before things really get hectic. The adrenaline-inducing panic of being vastly outnumbered doesn't come often until the later levels, which makes the first few levels feel like an uncharacteristically slow start.

When the action finally heats up, blasting your way clear of danger can be a satisfying feeling. Driving rock music often complements your efforts nicely, and the calm after the storm is a welcome reprieve. But even at its best, the pleasures in Serious Sam 3 are relatively tame. Even though you spend most of the game sprinting, Sam's top speed has a detached feeling that makes it seem like you are using cruise control. The guns fire with gusto and the enemies die horribly, but you kill so many of them that they start to feel like boxes you are checking off as opposed to threats you are eliminating. Even when things get quite difficult toward the latter half of the game, you still feel like you're thinning a herd rather than decimating deadly foes. The campaign lasts significantly longer than most modern first-person shooters, but the thrills grow stale even as the enemies grow crazier and larger in number.

You would be that angry too if you had rocket launchers for arms.
You would be that angry too if you had rocket launchers for arms.

You can spice things up by joining other players in cooperative play. Up to four players can play via split-screen (with three USB gamepads) or 16 players online can blast the demonic hordes in levels from the campaign or in three survival maps. Having friendlier guns adds an enjoyable camaraderie to the action, and other players can help you discover secrets you might have otherwise missed. Given the campaign's slow start, however, it's best if you crank up the difficulty when playing with others. There's also a variety of competitive modes that involve killing other players or killing AI aliens quickly so that you can kill other players. The fast-paced play can be exciting, but very few people are playing online as of this review, which makes competitive play a less reliable way to enjoy the game.

There is some solid enjoyment to be had in Serious Sam 3: BFE, but the game rarely achieves the hectic joy of its better predecessors. Sprinting around and blasting through thousands of enemies feels more like cleanup than combat, and the good audiovisual presentation can only add so much. Serious Sam 3 can still pack a punch, but this boisterous shooter series has seen better days.

Back To Top
The Good
Impactful arsenal
Decimating hordes of foes can be satisfying
Ample secrets hidden throughout levels
The Bad
Action feels more like cleanup than combat
Campaign starts off slowly
Sam's macho quips are rarely amusing
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Chris enjoys aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent.
129 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for nhirlathothep

Only 6 ? less than the worst COD ?

Gamespot = GamesNob

Avatar image for mixalisss13


Avatar image for obsequies

it's simple fun. FPS fans should own all 3 games

Avatar image for SteamyPotatoes

An 6 for this is a travesty, urge you all to check it out if you have any interest in fast paced FPS like classic doom and duke nukem games, not worth it for multiplayer though, this is where it falls short but the single player is where its at in these games.

Avatar image for zeusbark

Right now it's only 5 bucks in the HumbleWeekly Bundle. You also get the entire S.Sam collection. It will only be available for 6 more days so you better hurry. It's a real deal, I'm definitely getting this


Avatar image for elitesoldier117

its 8 bucks on steam. should i buy it

Avatar image for zeusbark

<< LINK REMOVED >> get it on the HumbleWeekly Bundle. it's 5 bucks, and you get the entire S.Sam collection. It will only be available for 6 more days so you better hurry


Avatar image for sotired

@elitesoldier117Huh? I'm looking at it on Steam right this minute and "Serious Sam 3: BFE" is showing as $39.99. I think you're looking at "Serious Sam Double D", which is $7.99.

Avatar image for qwato

If a comment gets removed without notifying the user I just cannot leave but to tell the truth because otherwise we would be back to repression instead for freedom of speech.

My previous comment was about criticizing the way gamespot is handling these reviews, because one notes when browsing daily their site that a lot of these reviews are biased. Is it due to the authors or the nature gamespot handles? Well good people I let you decide on that since it seems I have to be careful what I leave behind..

Avatar image for LordSashev

I dont know why the low score. I played Black Ops 2 and stopped it after 15 min of gameplay, but this game i can play for hours. Its like other Serious Sams, but a little different.

Avatar image for I_are_Cake

Watters gave Modern Warfare 3 an 8.5. While Modern Warfare 3 is still fun, its nowhere near as good as Serious Sam 3.

Avatar image for mkdoomfan2

Relax guys, It is just his opinion. If you think that this review is fact than you are probably too naive to play it.

Avatar image for HLno1

Two words: Original Painkiller

Avatar image for HLno1

Although 6.0 is really harsh.. Guess if its not made by Activision no FPS ddeserves more than a 9 eh? lame..

In any event, The Second Encounter remains the best of the series by far

Avatar image for koospetoors

<< LINK REMOVED >> In all honesty, it totally deserves a six, its a really underwhelming shooter overall.

The older ones remain awesome though!

Avatar image for Leatherhide

This game is an awesome combination of a classic shooter mixed with modern mechanics like sprinting and reloading. You know, what Duke Nukem: Forever couldn't be.The first few levels don't feel like Serious Sam at all but once you get further into the game it becomes seriously awesome, especially in co-op.

Avatar image for Ratpoison_m

I am not surprised. You actually have to play the game.

Chris likes the consol "games" where you have to press X all the time and just watch.

Avatar image for ninos7

This reviewer sucks!!!!!!

Avatar image for ninos7

I seriously hate this reviewers. Just because some erros of the game it doenst mean to low score. The game itself looks awesome.

Avatar image for Rickystickyman

<< LINK REMOVED >> But the errors were quite noticeable. They weren't small errors, they were relatively big errors. And a whole bunch of small errors can really kill the fun as well. And you hate the reviewer for expressing his opinion? Come on...

Avatar image for Demonnuke

<< LINK REMOVED >> The game feels cheap... mostly in the "underground" levels.... same pitch black color.. same low resolution textures.. overall poor graphics and physics..

*Music. THE ONLY track in this game that i like.. is only in the first level when you have to fight the headless kamikaze.

*Gameplay. And as always.. way to big difference between easy and normal difficulty.. Easy.. too damn easy.. a 10 years old will finish it. and normal.. way to hard to actually enjoy the slaughter. (I'm talking about the game played in single player.. not co-op.. and no cheats or something like that).. The game on normal can be beaten.. but the fun of spraying bullets.. or acting like Rambo.. with "no cover" is nowhere to be found. If you do that on easy.... well is way too easy.

So YES... in my book it deserves a 6. Co-op Multiplayer.. a hole other story.. but a game like this can't be based ONLY on multiplayer

Avatar image for Cyber_Spirit

<< LINK REMOVED >> game is awsome, you just don't have a clue ;)

Avatar image for Demonnuke

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> the game is nowhere NEAR to his predecessors and every single human non-fanboy will agree. TO many cheap levels..

I don't say it isn't fun t oplay.. I say the score si fair.

Avatar image for IBLEES1983

this game is awesome, i dont care what people think of it, i enjoyed every minute of it

Avatar image for CrysisFPS

Btw just what to take this moment to point out that the new interface/presentation of comments is terrible compared with last time.

Avatar image for adrian07ch

This game is WAAY underrated on many sites, not just this one. Maybe those jokes are not like the old Sam style, but that doesn't justify a score as low as 6. 6 is for an average game, this game is pure action and awsomeness.

Avatar image for KorialFox

6.0 ?? Are you serious? Guess not...

Avatar image for CrysisFPS

@GamerLegend10 No, you didn't. But somehow you didn't seem aware of that. Maybe, I'm fussy and unfair towards Chris for constantly bringing up his MW3 review, but don't tell me that game is anything more than a money-grabber! How could a game that, while not short on the fun factor, is so over-priced for such shallow/overrated content actually get an 8.5? Even 12-year-old 'Toddlers' on the internet constantly trash any new game (even ARMA 2) as being COD Wannabes just because it has Iron Sights! COD is one of the least original FPS's ever made, and while I like some titles like MW2, it is still so over-praised. I am personally SICK of the fact that all a game needs is COD in the title to make it Great! That means IW can make millions just for adding a new, generic sequel to a popular series. Many developers like Croteam and GSC make FPS's that try to be unique, and succeed in that regard, and craft them to their full potential. Croteam worked their butts off just to make a game that looks like something from a AAA Studio. But hey, we'll give it a 6/10 anyway, who cares! The fact that this game has 16 Player Co-Op, 4-player splitscreen, and is well optmised, are Pros in themselves. You rarely find such qualities these days where games appeal to console crowd. BFE isn't some game we love, it actually HAS things that are good. You're saying we should be given reviews that are unbiased. Heaps of games these days have 'Bias' written all over, and this is no exception.

Avatar image for CrysisFPS

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for GamerLegend10

@lambofgod008 GS claims to only use reviewers who are interested in the genre of the game they are reviewing. So in this case Chris must like shooters to be able to review this otherwise they would have got someone else to do it. "I would rather have a veteran of a certain genre, or sub-genre if you will, review a game than someone who doesn't know much in the way of what it's supposed to be." I agree with that in part, some games require a particular taste, so if the reviewer isn't used to it then they might not appreciate it as much as the fans, the only problem with using someone who is already a big fan (or veteran) is that the review would most probably be biased...i think it is hard to balance this, either way you could ends up with and unfair review.

Avatar image for GamerLegend10

@CrysisFPS I never said that, dont twist my words.

Avatar image for lambofgod008

I love it when, in a desperate attempt to win an argument, someone just starts throwing big words at you. Don't get me wrong, I understand these words, I just don't use them because I like to use good points and rational thought to debate a topic, not have a vocabulary contest. I would rather have a veteran of a certain genre, or sub-genre if you will, review a game than someone who doesn't know much in the way of what it's supposed to be. A modern shooter fan would obviously have many bad things to say about a fast paced, more action oriented title, as compared to a detail rich, slower paced, story driven title they were used to playing. I would like to hear someones opinion who enjoyed these games as much as I did, as this would definitely be more informative to me when making my decision to play. I don't remember which mag. it was now, but a while back a reviewer gave a 6 to an awesome game called "Dead Space". I loved this game and was infuriated at the reviewer. I quit looking to that mag. for advice on games. Another mag had given it a 9, which coincided with my opinion. With further investigation into the bad reviewers bio, i realized this person wasn't even a fan of shooters, or survival horror, and I was like, "No wonder, that's bull!@#$!". It's not fair to a game for a reviewer to bash it, effectively killing it's chances of reaching a broader audience, just because it doesn't fit a certain formula.

Avatar image for CrysisFPS

@GamerLegend10 And I suppose that giving a high score to a game just because it has COD in the title is a fair reason?

Avatar image for Psycold

This game has 4 player split-screen on PC. You know how awesome it is to hook up your flatscreen to your PC and play this with your mouse and keyboard and 3 other friends with xbox controllers? No other PC game offers that.

Avatar image for xshadowzz

Bad review. This game is awesome, very little has changed since the old games, And what has changed, has changed for the better :)

Avatar image for Talvikuutamo

@Whoever says it doesn't need high score just because it has Serious Sam name, well, also $game doesn't need a 9+ and GOTY just because it comes from $AAA_publisher (who spends more on publicity than making the game). Also, the game settings screen must be too intimidating and brooding for youknowwho. ;)

Avatar image for Talvikuutamo

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for kaziler

you don`t have to be a fan of SS serial - you just have to love mindless shooter. You are tired.. you get home, your parents/wife molest you.. when that`s the time when you just wanna see dead ugly creatures on your screen.. with no fancy puzzles

Avatar image for fourmi4x

<< LINK REMOVED >> You summed it up perfectly, thanks.

Avatar image for dab0ne

I'm an old school guy but I don't consider myself and old school shooter guy (didn't have the money in the late 90's or early 2000's to get a good computer) since all my shooter experiences would have been played on controllers in the pre-analog stick era. I was very skeptical about this game then it went on sale at Steam so I thought I would give it a try. I absolutely loved this game. It was probably the most intense FPS I have ever played. It didn't matter to me that the enemies were recycled like a mofo because it was fast, intense, and all fun. Just when you thought you had finished a section you would be bombarded by literally another 100-150 enemies. This is circle strafing at its finest and it certailny deserves between 7.5 and 8 for this genre of game.

Avatar image for badATchaos

As much as people love their modern shooters I wish there were a bit more crazy stuff like this floating around still. Popular shooters have evolved in a different direction over recent years but that doesn't mean there's anything 100% wrong with the old design. It was a nice reminder of yesteryear.

Avatar image for GamerLegend10

To a massive Serious Sam fan this game deserves more, but that would be somewhat a high score just because it has Serious Sam in the name is not a fair reason, nor does that make a good review.

Avatar image for GamerLegend10

Its stupid to get angry over a review, make up your own view and if you like the game then buy it, but dont make a big fuss if you disagree with the reviewer who gave his honest opinion... isn't that what you want, an honest, unbiased review, or would you rather he lied to please the fans?

Avatar image for Voice_of_Wisdom

best graphics ever. nearly photorealistic

Avatar image for npkgardens

I will buy this game. Obviously, it is one of those games that (at least some) critics don't enjoy, but gamers like it anyway. I suppose that if I was paid to play games for a living, I might get bored easily. But since sometimes I play when I need an amusing distraction, this sounds right up my ally.

Avatar image for damagetv

What a crap, biasied and blatantly prejudiced review. Metacritic, scored from the reviews of several major review sites manages 7.2, how GameSpot can justify a 6 is beyond me. Actually it's easy, since they haven't been paid 6 figures by EA to give the game 9.9 out of 10 like all the other recent major titles, they just slap a 6 over it, same as they always do when they haven't been wined and dined by the publishers. What a crock.

Avatar image for Gissur66

I have read Gamespot reviews for more then 12 years. I never watched another site. Until last year, I started to glimpse at IGN. And from this year, Im generally going by 1Up and a few other basic review sites, not affected by promos as much, to get a decent review. Gamespot is but a memory of what it once was. Just look at Battlefield 3 vs Modern Warfare 3. Im not a fan of either but enjoy them both. But BF3 deserved a 9+ for its daring entrance to that kind of graphics, and MW3 deserved maxium 7 for its ripoff that could have been a DLC, just to name a few. Overall Gamespot does a decent job but it feels as they feel its their right to dish some games that are great, and then give great score to obscure games that might though be fresh in the ideas. Simply put, they are not consistent. Its too much personal taste that shows through, and a game site such as Gamespot cant have that, since it is the largest site on internet for game reviews, but it is slowly fading away from the old school gamers due to we simply dont feel that its a serious site any longer.

Serious Sam 3: BFE More Info

  • First Released Apr 23, 2011
    • Linux
    • Macintosh
    • + 3 more
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    Serious Sam 3: BFE is a first-person shooter game that is a prequel to the original game, Serious Sam: The First Encounter.
    Average Rating486 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Serious Sam 3: BFE
    Developed by:
    Published by:
    Devolver Digital, Mastertronic, Zoo Corporation
    VR, 3D, Shooter, First-Person, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language