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24 September 2020 14:54

Serious Sam 4 Croteam Serious Sam: The First Encounter

Serious Sam 4 review: Serious fun

Over in Belarus, a company with the generic name of Wargaming Inc. started releasing digital versions of popular tabletop games like De Bellis Antiquitatis before launching its Massive Assault franchise and eventually coming up with the overwhelmingly successful free-to-play World of Tanks. In 2015, the company dedicated a new branch to explicitly helping others do the same with Croteam Incubator, which gives office space and technology resources to small teams of Croatian developers looking to finish their games. After a couple of minutes (or seconds, if you manage to get yourself killed immediately), the story goes back to the beginning, with Sam and the other members of the Alien Artifact Acquisition team moving via a convoy in Rome for the purposes of meeting a Russian priest who knows where to find the Holy Grail. If you've played any other game in the series, you'll have a general idea of what to expect from Serious Sam 4. Regardless, these are worth it because they contain their own unique enemy waves, which is the whole point of playing the game to begin with.

It really just plays like a faster, bigger and more responsive version of the First and Second Encounters, mixed with certain elements from the third game. What's more, he can mix and match any two, which is insanely useful when you're up duking it out with enemies of two different types and there just isn't much time to swap between weapons. It doesn't quite look like a AAA game but it's solid in its own right. Speaking of having tons of enemies onscreen, Serious Sam 4's Legion System where enormous battles take place was significantly overhyped, as it amounts to just a few minutes of gameplay, most of which is just a backdrop for an insanely giant final boss battle. It doesn't hesitate to absolutely murder you but it feels more consistent and fair than the classic games in the series did, with less of a focus on teleporting enemies in behind you and finding them hiding around every corner.

GAME INFO Serious Sam 4 September 24th, 2020 Platform PC (Steam) and Stadia Publisher Devolver Digital Developer Croteam Serious Sam 4 opens in the midst of an alien invasion on planet Earth, dropping thousands of enemies in a definitive assault meant to squash out any human resistance in one fell swoop. It's a cute moment in the midst of gunning down legions of enemies and Serious Sam 4 finds ways to keep layering in dumb referential jokes and stale one-liners at just the right time that I was willing to give them a pass for at least trying to lighten up the mood. This gives the overworld maps the ability to spawn in hundreds (they claim thousands but aside from the climactic opener, no other level has come close to matching the body count) of enemies at a time. Serious Sam 4 is no doubt the best looking game in the series, with Croteam taking the past few years to explore interesting rendering and design techniques to make the Western European countryside look its best. They spent all of this time developing sprawling open world maps for the second half of Sam Stone's story but in all honesty, did Croteam really have to?

There's a pervading level of jank to Serious Sam 4 that I couldn't get out of my mind as I played the game. The usual pop-in of trees and objects served as minor distraction from the huge open maps that Croteam developed and I could never figure out the right settings to make the game run as smooth as I wanted. If you want to dig down deep enough, Croteam lets players take full advantage of the various rendering techniques to get the best possible performance out of the game but I settled for trying to run with the suggested settings that Serious Sam 4 autodetected for me. Serious Sam 4 loses some of its pacing midway through with the shift to open world maps but nevertheless, Croteam has come up with a rather amusing shooting gallery to explore. It's not one of the best first-person shooter campaigns you'll play this year but it's a good palate cleanser from all of the super-serious games dropping on the new consoles.

If you just want to bust out the big guns and kill a few thousand aliens, Serious Sam 4 could use another badass like you in the ranks. There's a bit of jank that's impossible to miss and Croteam isn't breaking any new ground here but Serious Sam 4 is a great way to just shut off any critical thinking and blast away at a few thousand aliens for an afternoon. Skill tree lets Sam shrug off explosive damage, use signposts as weapons, mount large enemies and more Seriously behind the times Serious Sam 4 Bottom Line: Serious Sam 4 fails to capture the spirit of older games and somehow manages to feel like a step back for the series. Category Serious Sam 4 Title Serious Sam 4 Developer Croteam Publisher Devolver Digital Genre First-Person Arcade Shooter Platforms PC, Stadia Game Size 42 GB Players Cooperatively with up to 4 players Xbox Game Pass No Launch Price $40 Unfortunately for fans expecting this game to be a step forward for the series, Serious Sam 4 is a mess. Serious Sam is supposed to be a fast-paced run and gun arena shooter, so when the game slams on the breaks like this, it's incredibly jarring.

Serious Sam 4 could've been a reboot of sorts, reintroducing the game to the masses like DOOM did when it launched in 2016. But while DOOM 2016 captured the run and gun gameplay of older games with unmatched polish, Serious Sam 4 is plagued by flawed pacing, artificial difficulty, and awful presentation. 2.5 out of 5 Serious Sam 4 feels like a hollowed-out shell of what a Serious Sam game is. It's been 9 years since Croteam released the last title in the Serious Sam series, Serious Sam 3: BFE. But, does this follow up bring the same action and fun of the originals to a new generation, or is it time to let Sam fade into history and be forgotten? It's a pure alien murder simulator and for the most part, there's a lot to enjoy, especially if you like games that don't require you to think too deeply about their stories or the puzzles within. But, for the most part, Serious Sam 4's undying attachment to the way the games have played in the past is its biggest strength. It's also possible you might run into some issues like I did, where enemies wouldn't spawn, causing me to be unable to progress past certain points. Sure, it's a fairly shallow narrative experience, but if you just want to jump in and not really care about the story or world, and just shoot a load of different enemies, then Serious Sam 4 delivers. If you're someone that cares more about the story than anything else, then you're going to find some meat on the bones with Serious Sam 4, just don't go in expecting things to get as deep as other narrative-driven games go. It's also worth noting that one of the best things about previous games was the massive co-op options, including the ability to play 16-player online co-op in Serious Sam 3: BFE. If you've never played a Serious Sam game, then just don't go into it expecting the same level of narrative as story-driven games, because you aren't going to find it here.