Serious Sam 4

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We live in a weird time. Maybe it’s always been weird, I can’t remember now. But I know that a lot of people are disappointed with… stuff.

Environmental stuff, political stuff. Social stuff. I’ve noticed this effect not only on us consumers but also the creators of the world as well. You can tell they are disappointed with the times we live in because they smear it on the stories and the characters they create.  I think it’s being seeping into our entertainment more than ever before. Our avenues of escapism are more often an ‘escape’ to the same stuff that’s outside of the theater and to what’s beyond the letterbox. Then there’s Serious Sam 4

How’s this for counterculture. This game is basically the same as its predecessors. It’s fun. Some might say the Serious Sam franchise is just too dumb. I say no. I say they are smart. Smart enough not to stuff up a good thing. Clever enough to know what its audience wants and expects and then committing to give it to them, us. Me. What a wonderful and simple formula that is. How come no one else knows this, is the temptation of the soap box so strong?  

We have had some very pretty games recently, but I’m starting to see a mathematical formula developing. Across the various forms of entertainment, prettiness is directly proportional to the amount of emotional baggage it forces you to carry. Often you’re expected to lug these ‘life lessons’ around even after you switch ‘it’ off or walk out the exit door.

And that’s where he comes in

Serious Sam, isn’t that pretty. The creatures are pretty cool, as you would expect. But compared to what else is floating out there, it’s pretty pixel raw. You’re not going to find finely crafted animation, ripples in the water etc. It’s the low point of the whole experience as you’ll come across some parts of the map design that are so bad you just have to pause to look at it. This part of the game actually feels unfinished because it probably is! 

With what’s going on in the world, that’s somewhat excusable. I’m just hoping and believing that a lot of this type of problem will be fixed in the patches that will surely come. There will be a Serious Sam editor tool coming, so the community will probably make levels much better than what comes with the game.  

The dialogue is not pretty at all to be fair. Serious Sam has always been ridiculously self-aware with its character Sam “Serious” Stone breaking the fourth wall, making fun of serious dialogue in general. But this new version does push it too far at times, with a lot of the humor falling flat. Yes, I get it, that’s the point, it’s self-deprecating. But often, they try way too hard. The story is weak too, but that’s more forgivable as it’s just interesting enough to help you keep moving forward to the next vast open area where the real magic happens. 

So, if you haven’t played a Serious Sam before, what’s the appeal? Serious Sam 4 is a chaotic arcade-style shooter. The formula that sets Serious Sam apart from other shooters is its absolutely massive open field areas where hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of various style monsters throw themselves en masse at your face. Here is the real appeal of the franchise. In real time, under the stress of close melee type enemies, while often under fire from ranged monsters, you plan what type of weapons to use and when to use them. The order you break down the horde can make all the difference depending on the terrain and how much ammo you have and what type.

But Serious Sam has certainly given the tools to Sam to do the job. The franchise prides itself on its verity of weapons you can find throughout the game. SS4 has 15 different weapons, some of which have alternate types of fire. Plus, you have offensive gadgets you can collect by doing special missions and you have a new skill tree to play with as well. 

I love the weapons in Serious Sam, I always have. They are way over the top and fun. To name a few we have shotguns, a minigun, quad lasers, a type of pirate canon that fires massive cannon balls that you just run around with. But my new favorite is a rocket launcher that fires guided rocket chainsaws… That’s beautiful. 

The new gadgets are super cool too. Like attack drones, time slowdown spheres, hologram diversions. My favorite gadget is the throwable black hole grenade. It’s so satisfying too, as you only tend to only chuck it in absolute desperation while you’re being absolutely swamped by enemies from all sides. So you tend to throw it in anger because you’ve died in this same spot 20 times but now you just sit back and watch them all get sucked into this massive yawning void! Frek’n awesome.  

The other new feature is the skill tree where you can learn dual wield. You can use road signs to bash your enemies and upgrade your melee skills. You can learn to ride some of your larger enemies, which is pretty funny. But I found the weapons and gadgets so much fun, I didn’t really use these so much.  

I’ve only played a little of the multiplayer, which at the moment is way easier. As soon as you die, there is only a ten second timer and you go straight back in where you left off, whereas in the story mode you go back to the last save point. I tend to play just using the auto saves so often that can mean a good jump backwards in time. 

Anyone can play this game in any condition and have a blast. You can be as freshly awoken from the cockerels call and have fun. Or you can fall through the glass of your front door, crawl to the kitchen. Tourniquet your gashed leg and have fun Saming it up.   

So, this game’s for you. Because it’s for everybody.  If you had a good day at work or school; great! Go home and make it better. What if you had a bad day? Bummer. Load Sam up and throw a black hole at a monster. It won’t fix your problems, it’s just a little bit of chocolate for your eyes. It’s like opening a new bag of chips every time you see that menu page. Like cracking a new can of your favorite brand of Slurm, every time you fire a guided chainsaw. 

It’s not that pretty, it’s not that smart? Serious Sam 4 floats above all that crap because it’s got it where it counts. Either on your own or with others, it’s packing some major fun. 

With the graphics as they are now it’s a 7 for me. But it could have easily been an 8. 

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