Serious Sam 4 Review
Independent game developer Croteam should need no introduction, but just in case you haven’t been gaming since the early 90s. Croteam are the legends behind the Serious Sam franchise and highly rated first-person puzzler The Talos Principle. Now in 2020, Sam “Serious” Stone is back in an all-new adventure but with a familiar recipe; defend humanity and unleash hell on endless hordes of enemies – classic Sam at its best!
Serious Sam 4
Serious Sam 4 starts off like all good 80’s action films! Rally a group of questionable misfits, face the needlessly endless foe and crack out as many cheesy one-liners as possible.
Taking place in the events before Serious Sam 3: BFE, which took place before Serious Sam: The First Encounter… Serious Sam 4 plays out with civilization on its knees, Mental’s Hordes of aliens spread throughout Earth, relentless in tearing down what’s left of humanity. But there is hope — ‘Earth Defense Force’ lead by none-other then Sam “Serious” Stone (first person to deep-fry a dragon) and his quick-witted comrades.
Serious Sam 4 is split into 15 Chapters, full of side missions, gadgets, and of course, non-stop action. ‘Death from Above’ (Chapter 01) wastes no time and gets you acquainted with the initial storyline and introduces you to rookie Kenny, who is part of the Alien Artifact Acquisition team, and Father Mikhail, an Orthodox priest. Kenny follows unarmed as Sam and Father Mikhail start a passage through the remains of Rome, battling mayhem on your path to the Vatican. Only after finding the Ark of the Covenant containing the Holy Grail, which is actually an Alien Artifact, will Sam and his team know its true purpose.
Is your priest sense tingling– Sam Stone
As you work through the Chapters uncovering clues to the Grail’s location, General Brand, founder of the Alien Artifact Acquisition team decides to erupt Vesuvius. Turning Pompeii into a post volcanic hell, where Sam’s broken team must escape before becoming part of the wasteland.
Separated from his comrades, Sam continues his mission, reaching the Colosseum where an epic arena battle takes place (tickets limited), all while being taunted by Lord Achriman. Father Mikhail reveals ancient text hidden in the Vatican Library that will expose the location of the Holy Grail. With new knowledge discovered about the Ark’s location, Sam ascends into the French countryside. He joins forces with the French Resistance, learning there is an informant in Mental’s Horde. After shedding an unquantifiable amount of ammo, Sam is reunited with his comrades who together grow closer and closer to discovering the Holy Gail.
Serious Sam 4 is an arcade-style shooter, with a pretty simple tactic – run, circle-strafe and backpedal-blast your way out of any situation. Croteam has taken an “if it works, don’t fix it” approach with Serious Sam 4. Keeping the fan favourite mix of chaos and mastering the effectiveness of weapons as the focus of gameplay. While Croteam has introduced some new elements they have not over complicated anything. Doing a fantastic job of not losing sight of core mechanics.
Dealing damage is 15 different weapons, including classics from the franchise. Ranging from shotguns with sniper distance accuracy (eye-roll) to miniguns, lock-on rocket launchers, and my goto the A-24 Devastator. A modified 1972 Maxwell Atchisson design, the Devastator packs a life-ending punch from its high-piercing heavy-explosive rounds and drops most enemies with a headshot.
Hold on, I need to hand out some bullets…– Sam Stone
Throughout Chapters, Sam picks up various weapon upgrades, including fire modes and abilities, some of which are awarded for completing side missions. Trust me; this helped hugely with the ever-increasing hordes of invaders. Mastering gadgets also help immensely, especially in tight situations with low health; inject some ‘L.I.F.E,’ slow down time or boost your weapon damage. Even turn Mental’s minions against themselves or in the right situation mount them for free rides!
Helping Sam access arsenal is the Weapon Wheel, a necessity if you are planning to survive. Switching quickly to the right weapon for the job is key, especially in the harder difficulties. The Weapon Wheel also provides visual ammo levels and access to gadgets. Throughout the game, Sam will also discover Artifacts of Might, an unknown substance that when inhaled provides skill points used in the S.A.M interface to unlock special abilities.
My first encounter into the Serious Sam franchise was in 2001 when LAN parties went for days and overclocking your Intel Celeron to 1Ghz was nail-biting. And just like Serious Sam: The First Encounter, Serious Sam 4 is best played with mates! Supporting up to 4-player online co-op through the main and side missions, difficulty cranked; it’s guaranteed high-adrenaline fun.
Don’t forget to reload. It’s a stupid way to die.– Hellfire
Serious Sam titles have always been great looking games. Utilizing Croteam’s in-house Serious Engine that has always nailed the ability to render large environments and support a large number of enemies. From scaling rooftops in Italy to exploring the French countryside Serious Sam 4 features beautiful open environments. But does have some questionable character design and a bit of a dated look.
Serious Sam 4 also features a new addition to the franchise; the ‘Legion System’ that provides some game-defining battles without any notable frame drops, even when enemies reached jaw-dropping numbers.
Never make eye contact when cleaning your gun.– Roddriguez
Serious Sam 4 has all the classic Kleer Skeleton hooves and Beheaded Kamikaze Ahhhhhhh’s that both instantly create a frantic panic. Music creates tense gameplay, but unfortunately was repetitive, I would have loved to hear some heavier additions in the soundtrack. Gunshots, however, sound just as they should; big and impactful.
Serious Sam 4 Review
- GAMEPLAY - 85%85%
- GRAPHICS - 78%78%
- AUDIO - 71%71%
While Serious Sam 4 may not appeal to a newer generation of gamers it’s everything I expected from the series; hold your breath, heart-stopping action that’s full of one-liners and laughs. Serious Sam 4 is simple, uncomplicated fun, something often lost in games today.
Remember, there is nothing serious about Serious Sam, pull out the double-barrel shotgun and enjoy some classic arcade fun!
Serious Sam 4 is available now on Steam, GOG and Google Stadia.
For more on Serious Sam 4, check out our previous coverage.