Serious Sam 4 Review – The Fourth Encounter

In Serious Sam 4, the long-running FPS series may have finally found a workable identity. Through each entry, developer Croteam has held onto the core gameplay loop that defined Sam’s initial jaunt across Egypt. You will always back-pedal, you will always circle-strafe, and you will always fight dozens of Sam’s memorable cadre of alien enemies at once. But, at times, that loop has been obscured by some of the strange decisions Croteam has made with the series. It was never broken, but each game finds the developer trying to fix it.

Enter Serious Sam 4, yet another reinvention that seems to draw from every period of the series’ long life. As in Serious Sam 3, the graphics are realistic (though a little stiff). As in Serious Sam 2, there’s vehicular combat and humor to spare (and a surprising portion of the jokes land). And, as in First and Second Encounter, the gameplay is razor-sharp and front-and-center. It’s been nine years since the last mainline entry, and in that time we’ve witnessed the revival of circle-strafing shooters thanks to games both big (Doom) and small (Dusk). But, in this newly crowded landscape, Serious Sam 4 has a secret weapon. Croteam is simply willing to throw a ridiculous number of enemies at you at all times and it has the tech to pull it off.

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In this outing, which functions as a prequel to The First Encounter, Sam and a small group of resistance fighters are attempting to push back the villainous Mental’s assault on Earth. The alien horde has already won, but the resistance hopes to score a strategic advantage by tracking down the Holy Grail, which is actually an alien artifact hidden somewhere among the art and architecture of an impressively unspoiled Italy.

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