Serious Sam 4 is a prequel to the trilogy of shooters about an alpha male who does not take off his dark glasses and rarely leaves his minigun for more than five minutes. The previous part of the series was released nine years ago, so the new Serious Sam was expected almost as much as Duke Nukem Forever once was . These games have a lot in common, but there is also an important difference: today, Duke has been forgotten, and old Sam is still in business and working on HuniePop 2.
And the secret here is that the authors of Serious Sam know the motto “Adapt or die.” The most famous Croatian gaming company has made a prequel in which Sam jokes prophetically that he would like to go to Egypt next time. And although he looks like that Cool Sam, which localizers from the Logrus company called him, in the new part the hero has changed markedly.
In Serious Sam 4, the protagonist has become a much smarter, shrewd and well-read character. This is no joke – the game literally starts with a discussion of favorite writers and we find out that Sam reads books and prefers Philip K. Dick. Also, this macho is no longer able to refuse any NPC begging for help. And even old punchlines like Sam I am or Waaah yourself! gave way to more complex jokes about ecumenical evacuation. Sam’s vanliners have outgrown the level of “Kid’s Quote Book”.
But let’s talk about the game. The gameplay has remained the same as in the third part, Battle For Earth , and the authors openly say: “Don’t fix it if it works” The official position of the team is this: the formula does not need to be changed, it is enough point evolution. Therefore, as in 2011, we run backwards and preferably with a constantly pressed strafe, first from tens, then from hundreds, and by the end of the game from thousands of enemies, simultaneously screaming, shooting and running towards Sam from all sides. Our hero still considers cover to be the choice of cowards, so in Serious Sam 4 there is an obvious shortage of them. But there are huge spaces open for exploration, especially in the final part, where the action is transferred to the cold forests of Russia.
The geography of Serious Sam 4 has become more diverse than ever – Italy, the Vatican, France and Mother Russia. The Eurotrip to religious shrines was chosen for a reason, because according to the plot, the heroes hunt for the Holy Grail, which will allow stopping the army of aliens under the command of Mental, the constant antagonist of Cool Sam. As a prequel, we are told a story about the attempt of the first invasion of the destroyer of worlds on Earth, but Mental himself did not come to the party. Sam will have to fight with the assistants of the famous villain, that is, with sixes of different calibers. There is exactly one memorable villain – Ahriman, the butterfly monster.
In fact, the Croatian shooter is trying to please two audiences at once – oldfags, for whom you can serve pit bulls and headless kamikazes, and modern gamers, for whom a protagonist pumping tree and weapon upgrades have been made that open up alternative shooting modes. And this very evolution, which Croteam has repeatedly stated, rather spoils the classic formula of a spinal shooter with a brute hero. Without all these perks and gadgets, which the authors generously equipped the gameplay with, the game would be closer to its main audience, that is, to the FPS veterans from the nineties. And in this sense, shooters from New Blood Interactive for retro lovers now look much more attractive.
The game generally has something to criticize: NPCs fall through textures, in some locations you can go up to the wall and see part of the level architecture, and the cutscenes look so cardboard that they create a feeling of returning to 2007, when the first part of Crysis was the crown of the genre . And with all this Serious Sam 4 is still suitable for the audience that loves to shoot a lot and watch the enemies gushing with blood and juicy scattering on “F95zone“.
Several new features have been added to the prequel. For example, you can jump on some enemies and ride them like war elephants. From the middle of the game, almost every level has a technique on which it is especially fun to destroy enemies, be it a hippie farmer’s harvester or a combat robot of the head priest of the Vatican. But the transport control is done at the level of Codename: Eagle , which, without a search engine, will now be remembered only by people over forty.
The main “feature” of Serious Sam 4 should be called the “system of legions” – a game feature, thanks to which hundreds of different enemies can be on the screen at the same time, each of which rushes at full speed towards Sam in order to bite, sting or trample the last hope of the planet. And if at first this feature pleases, then by the final part of the game the game design comes down to the idea of throwing a hundred thousand monsters at Sam so that “the enemy’s hand gets tired of stabbing”. And in our case, I was tired of pressing the trigger and switching between guns, in which there were still cartridges.
But with all that, Serious Sam 4 feels like a shooter from the past decade. It’s like Croteam announced it at the end of the 2000s, and released it at the beginning of the last decade. It is felt not only in the graphics, but in its essence a retro project for a nostalgic audience. At the same time, not very appropriate newfangled chips periodically stick out of this whole structure, which annoyed in the third part of the series – such as manual reloading of weapons or a hero’s pumping system. Of course, this is normal for a modern game, but for a new part of a conservative, sometimes even Old Believer shooter – bad manners! Is this the price that Sam Stone paid to stay on the list of forgotten 90s action heroes?