|Serious Sam 4|
|release date||September 24, 2020|
|Genre||First person shooter|
Nearly ten years later, the Croteam studio delighted meat shooter fans and released Serious Sam 4. The new part introduced some fresh mechanics, but at the core remained the ideological successor of the first two games. But along with the once-loved features, the series still has all the same problems that look unacceptable in 2020. What happened in the end, for whom this game will be a balm for the soul, and for whom it will be a complete disappointment, read the review below.
Serious Sam 4 is the fourth numbered game in the series. But in terms of plot, this is a prequel to the third part, which was a prequel to the first. The aliens haven’t destroyed the Earth yet, but they are about to take over, and Sam Stone and the team are trying to stop them from doing so.
Compared to the previous parts, there are many more cutscenes and conversations. True, no one is trying to tell an interesting story, and the dialogues, tasks and interactions of the characters are made deliberately casually and with signature black humor. You should not expect something cool from the plot, but the passage now at least somehow resembles a full-fledged game, where the characters are motivated and there is chemistry between them.
In SS4, the writers decided not to stick out only Sam and presented the players with partners in the difficult task of freeing the Earth. They almost fail to be remembered, but the secondary characters brought a huge amount of jokes, references, mockery of books, pop culture, cinema, games and clichés.
And if the story didn’t work out, it’s still a faded reason to go to crush the next hordes of monsters, then it’s very humorous. The main thing is not to expect sanity from the script and be glad that it just exists, because the past parts did not shine with this either.
The gameplay of Serious Sam 4 is the same as before, so you will have to run back a lot, strafe and dismember the endless carcasses of small and large aliens. Shooting is still fun, and completing one or two missions easily relieves stress after work, school, or a quarrel with loved ones.
But the promised Legion system, where thousands of enemies are simultaneously released onto the map, was shown only briefly and was not fully implemented at each level, as one might think from the trailers and the promises of the creators. But the henchmen of the invaders are still enough to make Sam run around the map and barely cope with the abundance of filth running in his direction.
The cards, as promised, did more, but not all of them, and there is almost no sense. Well, the levels have become larger, well, before that it was not a corridor shooter, so the difference is small. There is an exception, but literally in a couple of missions, where they are allowed to travel by transport. True, we have another gameplay dead end and innovation for the sake of innovation, because the gameplay does not change in any way.
With level design, Croteam still has the same problems, but, paradoxically, this is why gamers love Serious Sam games. Almost every location in the game has a lot of open space and nothing else. It is impossible to climb ledges, other floors, go down or to the side, therefore, as before, we run backwards, dodge shells flying from all sides, fireballs, mucus and other gifts, and shoot endlessly with one or two hands.
There are more opponents – some were brought up from the previous parts, while others were even invented specifically for SS4. For example, cloaked vampires appeared floating above the ground. They are carried from place to place by a flock of bats and injure the hero with spectacular screamers in full screen.
Hordes of aliens, for the most part, are still cannon fodder with minimally developed AI. This means that the crowd just rushes at Sam and does not even try to dodge the bullets. There are small, large and giant bosses, but dealing with them is almost not a problem, although it helps to diversify the gameplay.
The appearance of a huge robot, which Sam will have to control, is also designed for this, but playing for him is not so fun, because he is slow and unable to dodge. Why breaks faster than you can imagine, based on its size. Fortunately, such moments have been counted once, so they must be endured, having overcome the scripted scenario.
The arsenal in Serious Sam 4 is large, and guns now allow you to upgrade. True, there is not much to hope for here, but from the available upgrades – an increase in damage or the addition of alternative shooting. So, an underbarrel grenade launcher is hung on a shotgun and it becomes noticeably more interesting.
There is also a quick access wheel with weapons and several useful accessories that give a temporary bonus to Sam or tactically help in battle. For example, a distracting hologram or rage serum.
Added new products and Sam. Now the hero needs to be upgraded by investing characteristic points extracted from strange oriental artifacts. This mechanic is quite controversial, because some of the skills that he had by default before are now unlocked only by abilities. For example, the ability to shoot from two hands needs to be studied, as well as killing with a knife, as well as other once basic things.
You can also perceive this as an attempt by the developers to give players a choice of the skills that they like, and leave the rest behind the scenes and not bother. True, given the local skill tree, and not a linear list, you need to get to some tempting goodies through the discovery of highly controversial abilities.
The graphics of Serious Sam 4 remained at the level of the previous part and this is the biggest minus of the game. Although, from the trailers it was immediately clear that the picture would not please, and not a AAA-class game was expected. But still, in 2020, even smaller studios are doing much better graphics.
In fairness, it’s worth saying that the graphics in Serious Sam have always been a secondary matter, especially during heated battles, and they happen here all the time, somehow not up to prettiness, but in cutscenes the eyes are corroded by the squalor of clumsily rendered elements.
But worse graphics were only bugs. True, I played the game in the pre-release beta, so I hope that most of the jokes were fixed with the first day patch or removed in the near future.
Optimization is also a problem. A completely non-graphic game eats resources like a victim. Although, here, most likely, the matter is in the vast spaces and the rendering of the abundance of monsters. Often in cutscenes, the details of the situation, the ground and the characters were loaded for a long time. They also used to enter closed doors and walls, and on the maps the killed enemies hovered in the air or twitched. Some bosses were buggy and just stood still.
The music is great, meaty and heavy with heavy riffs to match the game. True, specific tracks are not remembered, and nothing is asked for in the player.
Localization is only Russian, and even that is clumsy. Therefore, you can appreciate some of the jokes and references by listening only to the English voice acting, which I recommend doing. Otherwise, you will miss a lot of funny moments.
Multiplayer has been added to the game, which means you can play the story in a group of up to four people. Playing in beta and before the release, I really couldn’t try it out, so I can’t say anything about this. In theory, a cooperative passage should diversify the gameplay and make it more fun, but time will tell how it will be in fact.
Serious Sam 4 is better than the sad and gray third part. This is a classic meat shooter and one of the top representatives of this almost extinct genre. And the local simple and downhole combat is still the best cure for stress.
At the same time, the game seems to have remained at the beginning of the last decade and has not moved forward one iota. The graphics were never delivered, a bunch of bugs were left, although this should be fixed, attempts to weave at least some full-fledged plot into the game failed, and only great jokes save the case. And even those will be inaccessible to people who do not speak English, because localization is lame on both legs.
So it turns out that Serious Sam 4 is not a game for everyone, but it’s still a great, albeit outdated, hack that will easily brighten up a couple of evenings and allow you to have fun with friends in a cooperative. Yes, and the price tag of the game is pleasant, and soon there will be discounts, so you should probably take it.