Serious Sam 4 Brings Back Bullets, Enemies, and Bad One-Liners

Serious Sam 4 is out now on PC and Stadia. The latest game from Croteam brings the series' signature brand of high-octane shooting to a modern audience.

By Ricky Frech

September 24, 2020

Outside of a brief foray into the world of puzzlers with The Talos Principle, the wizards at Croteam have been working on the Serious Sam franchise consistently since 1996. That’s a surprisingly long time to put into what’s more of a niche series. Certainly, the larger public doesn’t go as wild for Serious Sam 4 as they will when id Software announces the next Doom game. That said, if you’re a fan of the franchise, Sam’s latest journey seems like even more of what you love.

To be clear, I’m still relatively early in Serious Sam 4. So far though, I’m enjoying both the overwhelming fights and the off-brand Duke Nukem humor. It’s far from a perfect game, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a higher rate of murder per minute than this.

The big thing with this latest Sam game is how many enemies they’re able to get on screen at one time. In the first fight, there are literally thousands of them. I’m not sure if that’s some kind of technical trick. but who knows? What I am sure of is that it’s a super rad scene.

In the follow-up missions I’ve done, that enemy count has gone down quite a bit. So, I’m not completely sure if the first mission is just an arbitration. That said, it’s slowly ramping back up, so I’m hopeful it gets back into at least the hundreds. However, I am a bit worried that it will melt my computer if it does happen.

Because the thing about putting tons of enemies on the screen at once means that Serious Sam 4 has some technical problems. You can watch me play the first few missions in the video above. There, you’ll see for yourself that the game hitches quite a bit in bigger fights. And my PC rig has a 2070 in it, so I’m not rocking ridiculously old tech either. Maybe a better card would get you better performance, but it’s still worth noting that some concessions had to be made to pump up the monster count.

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However, what is there is quite fun. Again, I’m early, but the way Croteam constantly throws new enemy types at you keeps things fresh. Each of them has its own mechanics that force you to quickly prioritize in the middle of a firefight. I mean, sure, the shotgun absolutely wrecks most enemies but having to quickly scan a battlefield and make a plan of attack has yet to get old.

Outside of the moment-to-moment combat, you can tell Croteam wants to deliver big moments. There have already been a few that left me momentarily mesmerized. That very first encounter where you’re fighting off thousands of bad guys is the definition of jaw-dropping. But, while they do have those big moments, the actual story and writing is mostly ridiculous.

Every time someone opens their mouth, I had immediate flashbacks to early Duke Nukem games. It’s not as aggressively bad as Duke Nukem Forever, but if you don’t like that brand of gruff-talking bad one-liners, this probably isn’t for you. About half of the jokes landed for me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me they found none of them funny. It’s that style of humor that you’re more laughing at than with.

All told, my early time with Serious Sam 4 definitely has me wanting to play more. I’ll probably turn the difficulty down and just rip through it to see what happens. Croteam’s latest is definitely worth a look. Though, I might suggest you wait for a sale unless you’re already a fan of the series.

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