Games of the Year

Serious Sam 4

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Serious Sam 4 reignites the classic FPS series in a high-powered prequel loaded with an explosive arsenal, intergalactic carnage, and perfectly timed one-liners. Humanity is under siege as the full force of Mental’s hordes spread across the world, ravaging what remains of a broken and beaten civilization. The last remaining resistance to the invasion is the Earth Defense Force led by Sam “Serious” Stone and his heavily-armed squad of misfit commandos. Croteam returns with a high-powered prequel to the Serious Sam series that scales up chaos to unprecedented levels. The classic Serious Sam formula is revamped by putting an unstoppable arsenal up against an unimaginable number of enemies that requires players to circle-strafe and backpedal-blast their way out of impossible situations.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

It's a Serious Sam Game. There's bad guys, there's guns, there's top-tier B-movie humor and one-liners. And yet there's something missing this time around...
Previous entries in the SS series have a sense of exploration and some wild features in the maps. Serious Sam 1, for example, features a few map sections where gravity is messed with, including a great fight on the inside of a cylinder. The wide open maps featured secrets hidden all the way Out There Somewhere. There were some very goofy experiences, like a pair of eyeballs watching you from the sky. A fight littered with bouncy floor pads.
SS4 features none of that. There's still some big fights, but they don't feel as big as previous games. There's precious few open spaces with much of the fights in controlled city corridors, leading to a strong rail-like feeling. The cool pseudo-primitive environments are nowhere to be seen. There's a wonderful jaunt through the countryside at one point, but that's nothing like fighting your way to a giant ziggurat and wondering what's inside. No sense of wonder.
It isn't a bad game, not at all, and it's worth the price of admission, but it's missing a lot of the whimsy and massive scale that made previous SS games so special.

Review from Steam

I lost my shoe...
I started playing this today, the same day i finished it. I couldn't stop playing for the love of God.
I don't know when was the last time i met a game that put me into that state of addiction.
I hesitated to play this, and was a bit afraid i will be disappointed, because to be honest, the previous game wasn't that great. It felt outdated and not modern even for the time it was released in.
Well, i am happy and proud to tell you, SS4 does a much better job.
The graphics might not be the best when you look at other games from the same period of time, but they are just good enough for you to not give a duck.
Unlike SS3, this game feels modern, our bros at Croteam know how to deliver with consistency but at the same time they know how to implement new stuff in a perfect amount so they wouldn't risk messing up anything by shoving in down the throat of their customers.
I won't get into much details but, it's just great... You have new things, but the game still feels retro enough.
Every single time i got a new gun or toy to play with i was like 'Damn. This is the end game, it can't get any better!', and i was always wrong :)
The game might start slightly slower paced and will give you a confusing vibe, but later you'll find yourself commiting good old school massacre.
One other thing i would like to applaud the devs for, the game doesn't have co-op achievements or difficulty-based ones either, as someone with some neurological issues, i am very happy i could complete all of them, it might be an unpopular opinion but difficulty-based achievements don't make much sense, they're about completion not a cuck-measuring contest :)
All in all i am really amazed by the game, and i cannot wait for Siberian Mayhem to unlock in like 2 weeks, SS4 had approximately 10 hours of gameplay including almost all side-missions, but the hours flew so fast it left me want more and more, and personally, i tend to get bored easily, but it wasn't the case this time.
Soundtrack is great, music transition from "whatever" to "action" is very smooth and pleasing.
Optimization is not very good, i have a pretty good rig at this moment, and maxed out completely the game was running smooth, except that i was having random occasional FPS drops. I mean, it surely wasn't my hardware when i was having at least 60FPS then suddenly 10FPS for 1-2 seconds then back again to 60FPS.
One thing that really annoyed me, the game has some flickering issues, as in, world objects/stones/grass start flickering around (on DX12 at least), i had to switch to DX11, and to be honest, it was a big difference.
I hope the same issue won't be passed down to Siberian Mayhem
We might grow older, but these classics only mature healthily.
I remember like 19-20 years ago when i had a Serious Sam-related nightmare after playing the first one like a maniac for days, i was on some empty green hill and suddenly these screaming kamikaze dudes were following me, they were hundreds.
As stupid as it might sound it managed to get my pulse pumped up a bit :)
Thanks CroTeam, cheers to you for being part of the gaming community for so many wonderful years :)

Review from Steam

Really enjoyed it! But I am prepared to point out the weaker aspects of it as well.... as much as I root for Croteam, this feels like a more eccentric Sam game. I'll see if I can break it down as simply as possible:
Pros
- it's still Serious Sam, both on and inside the tin; controls feel right, weapon and monster variety harmonizes very well and the escalating level beats are all there.
- hey, John J Dick's acting sounds more enthusiastic, cool
- the music is *chef's kiss*
- the Tunguska level. classic Sam fights, there
- I really like the side missions. some of them are goofy but it adds variety and action into the mix!
Cons
- the levels are WAY too big. it looks gorgeous and all but it just needlessly inflates gameplay time... where are even the teleporting portals!?
- the secrets, jesus. also eats up your time if you don't know where to look and half of them require janky parkour.
- the worst culprit IMO: the cutscenes and character facial animatons. holy moly, just skip them.
- graphical loading (ie. texture popping). personally, I let this one slide just because I know how Croteam isn't a studio with big bucks and a legion of programmers. I'm pointing this out for anyone that deems it as a mark of a bad game, so. take that as you will.
Overall, I'd personally give the game a decent 7/10. It plays out competently and the classic elements of Sam that are in there still shine through but I am dubious of the interesting yet half-baked ideas, like the Mech and the final boss. It did leave me wanting and confused. But I've had my fun, it feels like playing a Sam game but Croteam? Sometimes less is more. Except for the monster hordes.

Review from Steam

I can literally ride the pyro from Team Fortress 2
10/10

Review from Steam

This is honestly one of my all time favorite games, and it is always fun, has its hard moments, but this game is still great. BRING US SERIOUS SAM 5

Review from Steam

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH at 30 fps

Review from Steam

What a long and winding road it’s been to get here! The Serious Sam series started with The First and Second Encounters, two games that knew what they wanted to be: goofy, over-the-top FPSes helmed by a parody of the badass action heroes of the time. From there, the franchise stumbled through the awkward cartoonishness of Serious Sam 2, fell into the brown military shooter trap of Serious Sam 3, and finally emerged here. I’m happy to say that, of the main Serious Sam games, this one comes the closest to capturing the magic of the originals. In some ways it even tops them, though the myriad of technical issues and other design choices keep it from being a new high for the franchise. Nevertheless, if you want more of that Second Encounter goodness (and you’ve already played Siberian Mayhem), this is the sequel you’re looking for.
Not content with only having one prequel in the series, Serious Sam 4 is a prequel to the prequel. Before Sirius, before ancient Egypt, before Timelocks, we get Sam in his peak Earth Defense Force days. Teamed up with a rag-tag band of quippy soldiers, Sam is on the hunt for the Holy Grail, said to hold the key to turning back Mental’s forces which have all but conquered the planet. Starting in Italy, he winds a bloody path through Rome before heading out to the French countryside, and eventually finding himself in a climactic battle in Tunguska. Along the way, Sam will make new allies, lose some close friends, uncover some secrets of history, and suffer a shocking (maybe) betrayal. Also, he will shoot approximately ten thousand aliens, sometimes with rocket-propelled chainsaws.
Does that sound like a Serious Sam game? I know that last line does, but the rest? Serious Sam 4 is absolutely thick with cutscenes and dialog, way more than 2 or 3 ever aspired for, and it made something about this series abundantly clear to me. Sam is written better here than ever before, with witty one-liners, some self-aware humor, and also moments of drama and almost character growth. And honestly, I don’t need any of that. I do not need pathos in my Serious Sam game. I don’t need to meet a charming NPC and then watch them die and Sam be sad and angry a few missions later. I didn’t need that from Duke Nukem, or the Doom Slayer, or Caleb, or Dusk Dude, or anyone who’s game was there to let you blast aliens or demons or whatever. I can appreciate that Sam and his cohorts are written pretty well for the most part, but I also know now that I don’t want or need good writing in these games.
That goes double when you consider the quality of the cutscenes. Serious Engine 4 can pull off some impressive feats, but if it can make people not look like stiff, dead-eyed mannequins, this game doesn’t show it. Worse still is how textures are slow to load into scenes, often leaving characters delivering monologues looking like they were hosed down with Vaseline. This carries over to the gameplay, where textures will constantly be popping in and out of focus at all times, no matter how much or little is going on on the screen. When everything is loaded, Serious Sam 4 is a gorgeous-looking game, but the moment you turn your head, something is going to go all blurry. There’s also the matter of the maps, which are absolutely massive for some reason, and contribute to heavy load times between missions and cutscenes.
I will say, on the subject of maps, that the scope of some of the game’s levels is incredibly impressive. Not so much in the Italy and Rome sections, because there you’re mostly scooting around ruins and war-torn cities. But once you get to France, the game opens up in an incredible way. The ninth level of the game, A Breakfast in France, is something like 140 square kilometers of satellite-imaged landscape, which you can explore on foot or by motorcycle. There are certainly secrets to discover if you ride off into the countryside, and this space is used to great effect for some truly massive battles. Still, it’s not utilized as fully as it could be, and show off one of the chief flaws in SS4’s level design. You’ll find nooks, crannies, corners, and buildings everywhere in this game, so many that look like they should be hiding something, and yet, they aren’t. There are some hilarious secrets in this game, some of the best of the series, in fact, but finding them always ends up being far more tedious than it needs to be.
This probably doesn’t sound like a very glowing review at this point, but we haven’t talked about the action yet. Serious Sam has always had a bit of an issue with impact, I think. The battles have always been huge and the action has been hectic, but the guns often seemed to lack that extra oomph that weapons in, say, Doom or F.E.A.R. had in spades. Not so here. For the first time, Serious Sam is toting guns that feel powerful enough to take on armies. Bullets have impact and visual flare, explosions are huge and fiery, and enemies come apart in messy chunks at the slightest provocation. I want to take a moment to really appreciate the minigun in this one, which feels like you are unleashing a hail of divine judgment upon your foes. Spinning that thing up and sweeping a huge crowd of enemies kicks up so much dirt and blood, you would think you had just dropped them into a wood chipper.
Sam’s whole arsenal feels so much more powerful here, and it’s expanded with some recent and new additions like the rapid-fire explosive Devastator, a brutal auto-shotgun, and some more exotic fare like a rocket-powered chainsaw launcher. There are also gadgets, filling in for power-ups like Serious Damage, which you take with you and activate when you need an extra boost. These can be hilariously powerful, like time-slowing grenades and portable black holes, and are often earned from doing optional side missions on each level. These are clearly marked and offer some welcome additional action, usually with some kind of twist and clever dialog. Oh, Sam even gets a skill system that unlocks abilities like dual wielding and melee attacks on huge foes, though as I noted in my Siberian Mayhem review, dual wielding is so fun and feels so important to combat that I don’t see why it wasn’t just part of Sam’s normal repertoire.
If you’re seeking out secrets and side missions, Serious Sam 4 will take you over a dozen hours to complete, and for me, it was pretty much a blast the whole way through. The fights in this one are some of the best the series has ever seen (Siberian Mayhem aside), with some really clever mixes of foes and challenges. The levels look great (when the textures load), and the story is good, even if I would prefer the game without the drama. What’s really important here is that Serious Sam 4 represents a real move towards the action that made this series memorable. There’s a lot of The Second Encounter here, from the fights to the power-up gadgets, even to the three-act structure of the levels. I hope this means that Croteam has finally rediscovered how to make Serious Sam games like they used to, and their next entry will be more akin to a Third Encounter than another confuse sequel. Until then, though, this is about as good as the main Serious Sam games get past the originals, and if you can get past its issues, there are thousands of aliens here that blow up real good.
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