Nostalgia is a hell of a drug. And like all drugs, it can be dangerous to become addicted to them. Serious Sam, I think you have a problem and need an intervention. Sure, 2011’s Serious Sam 3 felt like a goofy throwback to simpler times, but in 2020, Serious Sam 4’s nonstop shot mark of Serious Sam 4 seems downright archaic. It’s layered with a few new ideas like dual-use and a skill tree, at least, but while Doom has reinvented itself for modern times, Serious Sam seems to revel in not moving forward or backward. For some reason, there’s a story that tries to justify all the weird carnage you’ll cause, and it’s just as complicated as the battles. We get a series of animated cutscenes in which Sam Stone and his military cronies fight to overthrow an alien lord in Europe by… finding the holy grail, because why not? Sam’s voice makes it seem like he’s gargling liquid Duke Nukem as he and his allies unleash an endless barrage of barely funny one-liners, constantly trying their comedy out loud. I love a good pun more than most, and it wore off pretty quickly. Every now and then a decent gag lands, but just as often the script will inexplicably get completely serious without any punchlines and it feels oddly out of place. The actual gameplay comes down to moving from one giant, largely empty, arena to the next, each time battling enemy horde after enemy horde with an arsenal of simple, mostly unimaginative weapons. Three types of shotgun, an assault rifle and two miniguns, two sniper rifles, a rocket launcher, a grenade launcher… almost none of it seems distinctive from a distance. The only gun that gives the impression of having a real personality is the returning Cannon Ball, which is absurdly powerful and fires at different speeds depending on how long your charge is on a shot, and if you don’t deploy. that one, it will overturn. several enemies and roll over the hills. For such a wacky game, you’d expect a lot more crazy guns like this and fewer standard guns. The huge variety of monsters you fight is insane in more ways than one. “I’ll give Serious Sam 4 as much, though: the wide variety of monsters you fight is insane in more ways than one. It’s a mishmash of dozens of different types, from the most basic zombies to suicide bombers. headless screaming iconic / obnoxious to laser-wrapped alien soldiers, flaming mummies, galloping horned skeletons, weird little one-eyed beasts, scorpion-men with miniguns, charging were-bulls, giant lizard-men to four-armed, telekinetic witch queens, plenty of direct rip-offs from Doom and Quake demons, real nosferatu-style vampires, and many more. There is certainly something to see to see a swarm of a hundred enemies s’ shoot down on you, and it quickly becomes chaotic. However, this menagerie makes no sense as a collection of enemies in one game, ensuring that the Serious Sam universe never feels like a plausible place. e. Most enemies just run at you and shoot, but a few have distinct behaviors to counter and can combine to be particularly lethal. Dealing with a swarm of flying drones that force you to look and aim means you’re not keeping an eye on the ground, leaving you a prime target to charge were-bulls or suicide bombers. The smart thing about them is that they pretty much all make distinctive sounds so you know what’s going on before you see it, which is essential as more people can teleport to any location and at any time. for each target, whether it’s taking out a swarm of small enemies with a throw of bullets or taking down a large one with concentrated firepower. Unlocking the ability to wield and hold a different weapon in each hand helps a lot with this, as you don’t have to switch between them as often and can double your damage output (it’s quite satisfying to melt a mob with two miniguns), but this comes at the cost of being able to use alternate shooting abilities like zooming in with the sniper rifle or using the powerful lethal ray attachment for the laser minigun.You can only reduce a limited number of ‘enemies in red haze before numbing you. “You also sometimes get consumable superweapons to break in an emergency, like a Decoy that attracts enemies, a device that slows down time, a portable black hole that sucks all enemies within range into oblivion, and … A syringe that restores 50 health points. The problem is, that’s pretty much the full depth of Serious Sam 4, and so its protracted battles get tedious – you can’t reduce so many enemies to red fog before you numb, even as more and more ‘between them flock with the following in a series of waves. For me, this happened less than halfway through the campaign, and even the introduction of a new weapon or enemy only livened things up for a few minutes before plunging back into the same slump. Only the other things you do in Serious Sam 4 are some terribly boring vehicle footage, some of which literally drive on an empty road for a few minutes without even making a nice jump to take. Sometimes you can drive a big stompy mech with unlimited ammo, which is great but easier and less strategic than fighting on foot. But overall, it’s just a massive brawl after a massive brawl, some of which seemingly refuse to end. I’m certainly not saying it’s easy. “I’m definitely not saying it’s easy – playing solo in the first half of the campaign, the sheer amount of enemies meant a lot of those fights took me a few dozen attempts on normal difficulty. (For this reason, it’s very difficult to estimate how long the campaign will last, but I would recall it from 12 to 15 hours.) It’s very inconsistent, though: some areas cover you with health and armor, allowing you to stay in shape if you remember where they are when you need them, while others are oddly stingy with them. With no way to restore significant amounts of health to yourself (an upgrade that gives you health when you score a melee kill gives you an insulting amount), it made me reboot over and over again. basically trying not to get hit at all. intuitive that boss fights are actually some of the easiest encounters – I’ve never had to try them more than a handful of times. Without spoiling anything, the final boss fight introduces a few new mechanics that really should have been rolled out earlier. There is more creativity in this fight than in the rest of the campaign. The more difficult fights are often found in the side objectives, which are clearly marked with signs that tell you exactly what reward you are going to earn up front. The Best Modern PC Games (Summer 2020 Update) Everything’s just… good. Difficult, absolutely, but uninspired and bland. However, there is one area where not keeping up with the weather really burned Serious Sam 4: there is no rescue co-op. You can – and really should – ride the campaign with up to four players, but you specifically need to charge into a co-op game to do so. Several times I’ve hit a fight that I felt was overwhelming and wished I could call a friend to help me get through, but that’s not an option. And it’s frustrating that co-op is so much easier just because you can reappear in the action right where you left off, whereas in single-player mode every death means reloading from a save. I was a lot less frustrated with the second half of the campaign than the first, and that was almost entirely due to playing with a friend. That said, it’s extremely strange that a game that seems so geared towards the campaign. cooperation be built around one. protagonist character, and everyone simply disappears in the cutscenes. This is the kind of general neglect found in Serious Sam 4, and it’s hard to ignore when textures appear on the right and left and animation issues are so common.