Hold down the trigger. Run backward. Repeat.
That’s the Serious Sam 3: BFE strategy guide, straight from Croteam. Read it. Memorize it. Implement it. For those of you that haven’t played a Serious Sam game before, they are absolutely old school in their design. Sam can carry every weapon he finds, lug around ridiculous amounts of ammunition and mow down thousands of enemies without breaking a sweat.
Serious Sam 3: BFE is a prequel to the series, taking place during an alien invasion of Earth. The BFE stands for, I think, Before First Encounter, although my favorite alternate is Bum F&*! Egypt (which is where the entire game takes place). You’ll begin the game aboard the first of many helicopters that will be shot down throughout the game and slowly encounter new alien types to indiscriminately murder. You’ll start with a sledgehammer, an amusing tool of destruction, before you gather your full arsenal of shotguns, an assault rifle, rapid-fire rocket launcher, minigun and portable cannon. You can also perform one-hit melee kills on most enemies, which can be useful if you get caught mid-reload.
The story is fairly simple. The Earth’s military forces are trying to power up an ancient artifact that will give them an advantage over the invading hordes. Sam ends up taking on anything and everything that Mental, the leader of the invading forces, throws at him. The enemies start as fairly basic beasts and foot soldiers, but once you progress a bit, you’ll need to start adapting to the different combinations of monsters that flood the screen. Moreover, after you encounter bosses, which just get larger and larger, you’ll see them more frequently in later levels. Some require you to simply fire tons of rockets while others, like the skeletal Kleer or gibbering space monkeys require some more thought. The variety is fantastic and, quite frankly, it needs to be to support such a straightforward shooting experience.
When you do reach the last of the 12 levels, you’ll understand that everything up to that point was mere training. While the game does throw tons at you all the way through, nothing compares to the unrelenting torrent of carnage that makes up the final leg of the adventure. You’ll learn to love the crates that hold an infinite number of rockets and fear what comes just after reaching a huge stash of ammo, health and armor.
The final battle is truly epic, featuring one of the largest enemies this side of Demon’s Souls, but it does highlight one of the problems with the game being a complete throwback. Unless you happen upon the key to defeating the boss, you’ll wander around getting killed over and over again. There are points throughout the game where I found myself aimless, as the game does very little to direct you toward your destination. The game does incorporate some good design elements like subtle signs in the museum or large landmark destinations that you need to move toward. These aren’t pervasive, though, and there were a few too many instances in which I just wanted to know where to go, be out in the open (and out of dark tombs), shooting more aliens.
As you move through the environments, there are tons of secrets to discover, including two weapons that cannot be obtained any other way. With very limited ammunition, though, they aren’t worth seeking out unless you are trying to find everything. You’ll have plenty of ammo for your Devastator and C4 charges to keep you gleefully blowing things up.
The environments are simply gorgeous, though you’ll only really be in the desert or a tomb, with superb lighting and enjoyable explosions. The real star, though, is the sound. I recommend playing with a surround sound system or headphones. You’ll want to know where enemies are popping up from and taking care of a screaming kamikaze soldier before he gets to close will keep you alive. The gunfire, “splortch” of gibbed enemies and thundering hooves of a rampaging bull beast are thrilling. Without seeing an enemy, I would know what was coming my way. Each alien sounds different, and if you listen, you’ll have the time to prepare accordingly for the onslaught. The music includes stereotypical, but appropriate, middle eastern-sounding tunes, but ramps up into driving heavy metal guitar and drums when the action gets thick.
Serious Sam 3: BFE comes with a complete suite of multiplayer options, including online, local and split-screen (!) co-op, and a versus mode with 9 different game types. There’s even a survival mode if you want to sit down and watch the alien parts fly. For only $40, this game is a dream come true for anyone who grew up on Doom and Wolfenstein 3D. For those console gamers interested in giving this a try, the native support for gamepad is flawless.
It’s hard to describe the elation I felt when I played Serious Sam 3: BFE. Croteam didn’t try to make the game more than it needed to be and, while it felt just a tad too long, it was largely enjoyable. There’s just something about holding the trigger and mowing down hundreds of aliens that were kind enough to walk right into the hail of bullets that puts a smile on my face. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to ice my trigger finger.
Review copy of the game provided by publisher.