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Review

Serious Sam 3: BFE Review

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

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

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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
6
Fair
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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Another-World

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Why does it feel like clean-up? Care to explain a bit more?

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XanderKage

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@Falconoffury Because Activision pays reviewers lots and lots of money to keep the scores up high ;) As for Serious Sam, the game is a welcome change in pace, compared to most modern games.

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lindallison

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@unikat Thank you for the the chuckle.

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julzeverne

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Ok I am losing respect for GS. Their reviewers have been so far off on so many titles lately. I am going to have to find a new review site.

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fieryermine

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Game looks cool to me, but do people who haven't played a game really need to tell a reviewer that he's wrong? If you read a review you can see what Chris thought was not up to par. If those things don't concern you, then this game might be fine for you. You will, however, have to actually read the review rather than just looking at the number.

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Falconoffury

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How can one call Serious Sam a throwback when Activision releases the same CoD game every year with a few tweaks, and nobody calls that an old, tired formula?

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VVhiteVVolf

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This game looks like it's exactly what it was supposed to be. Its Serious Sam and it doesn't deviate from that formula. What did Chris Watters expect it to be ? As we saw with the Zelda review, Gamespot's review is one of the lowest from most of the "popular" review sites which is making me wonder what is the general mood/attitude at Gamespot. Are these guys under to much pressure to get the review done ? Are they just rushing through them and checking the boxes until they reach the end, instead of taking the time to really just enjoy the games ? It almost seems like this reviewer has lost his love of gaming. I can see how having to play game after game as a job could change his views from gaming for fun to something he has to do so he can get to the next assignment on his list. Maybe he needs to take a vacation...

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evilweav

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this is a sequel to a game that was considered a "throwback" even in 2001. in its current form the series probably won't survive.

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naryanrobinson

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@unikat "Doom 2 came out 17 years before the first Serious Sam" So you're saying Doom 2 came out in 1984. Think you might want to reconsider telling people they don't know what they're talking about.

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Kayweg

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release date Doom 2: December 1993 release date Serious Sam: February 2002 Not sure how you get those 17 years in between the 2.

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deactivated-59d6d551e5364

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Looks amazing :D

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Phil-teh-Pirate

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What Duke Nukem Forever should have been perhaps? Time will tell.

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unikat

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

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phillkillv2

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Don't forget reviews are mainly biased towards their own opinions.

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praack

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was actually surprised it got this high of a rating- i always viewed serious sam and the Duke to be neck and neck in ummm - greatness? they both are throwbacks to the elder days- when about all you had were doom and Serious sam and the duke

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dab0ne

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I was wondering when the review for this game was gonna be up. I knew it would do poorly but I wanted to hear the faults. Some game reviews always make me laugh.

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Gelugon_baat

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@OtherFabbros I would say that the Super Mario games are no easier to play than this game.

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power_marks

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This game deserve 8.0 to 8.5 .............Playing now...Game looks like a awsome

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OtherFabbros

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Gamespot's reviewers aren't good to play, so they rate this game 6.0. Gamespot's reviewers, go to play Super Mario.

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666NightsInHell

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Very nice music in game,andlooks good for so small system requirements,works perfect on very old rigs, mouse movement not work correct,hard to target, maybe will be fixed someday

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Rat_King

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Shame. I always take GS reviews with a few grains of salt, but I was expecting at least a 7.5 from this. At a 6 here and 72 meta, I'll probably wait till it's $5-$10 on Steam and play it there. Loved the first two, if this review is accurate then what disappointing news...to say the least.

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Gelugon_baat

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@hotdiddykong Well, good luck finding a charming quality of this game then. I would suggest starting with the multiplayer though. Personally, when I was first introduced to the Serious Sam franchise, I was playing the first game in cooperative mode, at very hard settings. It was heck fun, and I would say the same for the later games too. But when I played them solo, I have the same complaints that Chris has: the action goes stale, . Personally, I care little for everything else that Serious Sam has; there are plenty other games with waves upon waves of ugly and/or wacky monsters, overtly macho protagonists and outrageous weapons. And looking at this new entry to the series, Croteam isn't going to change the formula.

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hotdiddykong

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@Gelugon_baat Because their might be something i dont know that will make me like this game for what it is, Just Maybe.

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Gelugon_baat

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@hotdiddykong Why bother playing it if you know that you are going to have a heartache? :?

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hotdiddykong

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@Gelugon_baat Its rather sad, true it "Upgraded" to the Modern Era but This game Lost the reason we Loved Serious Sam, the whole damn place is nothing but Desert for Petes Sake :( , im still gonna play this game, but gonna be Dissapointed aswell

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simboes

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LOL. serious sam 1 and 2 both got 9/10, and this gets a 6? Easily better than the other two. Would give the others like a 7-7.5 and this one an 8. had great fun. 8hrs to get through the campaign, then co-op goodness! lil harsh me thinks. It at least contains all the great parts from the first two games, same kind of fun for any real Serious Sam fans. Not like duke that tried to bring it back and failed, this one brings it back and wins. Graphics not all that bad either!

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wasakawaka

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At least it's not as bad as duke nukem.

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Gelugon_baat

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@Boltak That's what someone who is easily persuaded by adrenaline-rushing gameplay would say. :roll:

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Boltak

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This review is probably wrong. Game looks like a blast.

2 • 

Serious Sam 3: BFE More Info

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  • First Released Apr 23, 2011
    released
    • 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.
    7.7
    Average Rating490 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Serious Sam 3: BFE
    Developed by:
    Croteam
    Published by:
    Devolver Digital, Zoo Corporation, Mastertronic
    Genre(s):
    Action, First-Person, 3D, VR, Shooter
    Theme(s):
    VR
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language