Serious Sam is the antithesis of its own name: a series that laughs in the face of games that take themselves seriously, with grim stories and brooding characters. Serious Sam is a series about shooting lots, and lots, and lots of enemies as they barrel towards you screaming, firing rockets, exploding, and basically trying to kill you in any way possible while Sam cracks jokes and one-liners the entire way.
The series is built upon a simple formula of guns, explosions, and hordes of enemies. Classic gameplay, like armor and health pickups litter the rooms you fight in, dozens of secrets are scattered about the twelve chapters, and weapons range from the regular to the downright absurd. Serious Sam: BFE continues these traditions, though there are certainly hiccups along the way.
That's not to say that there isn't anything new this time around. First, the game's engine has been improved for better graphics and number of enemies on screen, including effects like clouds of dust that are kicked up by explosions. They've even included reloading, which is a really strange addition to the series, believe it or not.
First, despite the series' tradition of open areas teeming with enemies, the first part of the game, a couple hours of gameplay, takes place in the streets of a destroyed city, like something out of Modern Warfare (only with headless aliens with bombs attached to their hands). Often you'll find yourself in cramped corridors, facing only a couple enemies at a time, and things feel off when this happens. It doesn't feel like these experiences should be in a Serious Sam game.
There's also the enemy design. The game is built upon open areas and the complex strategy of constantly running to avoid enemy fire, but a number of enemies in this title come equipped with auto-lock machine guns, which really seems to break you out of the crazy experience when you're getting hit from some random enemy in the distance. What's really irritating is that, despite the marketing's assurance that "Cover is for amateurs", due to these machine guns you're often forced to hide behind whatever you can find. This is not something Serious Sam would do! Additionally, there are a number of enemies that require heavy weaponry to defeat, which really mucks up the pacing when you're forced to stop shooting and find some more ammo for the specific weapons that can damage them.
Still, when the game shines, it really shines. When you walk into an arena and hear the telltale 'foomp foomp foomp' of dozens of enemies spawning around, and you begin to mow them down even as more and more show up, it's awesome. When you and fifteen other players (that's right, 16-player coop) are sprinting around each other, explosions, rockets, and bullets blending together in some crazy orgy of chaos, things get wilder. Then the heavy metal soundtrack comes on and it's just crazy town from there on.
Serious Sam is simple, boiled-to-the-basics gameplay that is a lot of fun to play when you really just want to put bullets and rockets in a lot of things to make them stop moving. Also cannonballs that are about as large as you are. Those are there too. It's mindless fun, and when you're with friends, even better, despite the problems. Give it a shot for when things get just a little too Serious.