I always look forward to the release of another Serious Sam game regardless of platform, genre or price. It’s a series which knows exactly what it wants to have the player do and provides him/her with the tools to do so. In short, it wants to let you to kill stuff and, man, do I love killing stuff. Reviewing Serious Sam 3: BFE was an incredible experience for me, not because it excels in any particular area but because of the prejudice I went into it with based on previous Sam titles. Despite being pleasantly surprised by the main game, I maintained some of the same reservations towards this Jewel of the Nile dlc.
On the ride home after the twelve hour epic that was Serious Sam 3, Sam finds himself in yet another predictable situation which prevents him from taking a well-earned rest. The story is as paper thin as ever and doesn’t try to be anything more. This add-on comprises of three huge (hour-long), action-heavy campaign missions. The first of which drops you in a brand new location with a set objective: locate the something and activate it for some reason and in order to do this you must locate several keys/idols/doors and blast countless enemies into smithereens while doing so. Croteam waste no time in getting you into the action, quickly providing you with almost every weapon from the main game, but failing to take the extra step forward in providing you with anything new for Sam’s arsenal, other than one new melee weapon in the form of an axe. I found myself a little underwhelmed with the safe, steady progression of the first level. Collecting idols and placing them on their plinths has been done many times before, but just as I was beginning to grow tired, something magical happened: I bumped into a brand new level design concept in the form of a force field which contained me in specific areas until I was man enough to fight my way out. It might not sound like much but it successfully injected some tension back into proceedings, at least until before the idea disappeared and was never to be seen again. A shame.
The second level was a pleasant departure from the first and offered me some more of the temple-running, puzzle-solving sequences which I crave following their appearance in Sam’s first two encounters.
Entering the third and final JOTN level I had found myself equipped with the jetpack, which was sorely underused in the main game. Boosting around in the air took the combat to new heights (PUNZ!), but almost before I knew it, I was rooted to the ground again fighting the same (but still extremely entertaining) enemy types – which I could do in the original Serious Sam 3: BFE campaign without shelling out real cash for these new environments which offer little gameplay variety.
Over the course of the three hour-long JOTN missions I found myself laughing, swearing and yelling at my PC monitor due to the frantic nature of the combat but then it smacked me in the face like a leaping Kleer: I had done all this before in Serious Sam 3. Almost everything from the level design to the combat felt exactly the same, it offers no new enemy types (other than a tedious final boss) or weapons (save for that axe), leaving me scratching my head as to why this dlc exists. Add-ons to games as crazy as Serious Sam 3: BFE need to take that extra step into the unknown, you have your user-base ready to roll so why not take advantage of that and experiment?