A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Though there's technically a "save the world" motive for Sam's actions, the simple truth is that it's just an excuse to have Sam run around and shoot just about anything that moves. The plot's only there to set up the carnage.
Positive Role Models
Sam might be the hero, but he's far removed from ever being a role model. The character's an exaggerated parody of on '80s action movie character, with big guns and a bigger attitude. He's got a crude and snarky sense of humor and relishes in the violence happening around (and because of) him.
Ease of Play
The basic controls are simple enough and should be familiar to fans of first-person shooter games. There's a steep difficulty curve though, with players often getting overwhelmed by sheer numbers of enemies.
Violence & Scariness
Serious Sam 4 is almost comedic in its over-the-top violence and carnage. Blood and gore are constant, with enemies exploding into meaty chunks and leaving viscera splattered around the screen for a bit.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
During the course of the game, players will encounter harpy creatures. In previous games, these characters were fully nude, though a redesign this time around adds some strategically placed elements to stop just shy of complete nudity.
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There's not shortage of profanity in the dialogue, including "f--k," "s--t," "ass," etc. Also, the multiplayer component can expose players to offensive language from others via party chat.
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Products & Purchases
This is the latest chapter in the Serious Sam franchise.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The game's dialogue includes occasional drug/drinking references, including a specific line about "doing blow."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Serious Sam 4 is a first-person shooter available for download on Stadia and on Windows based PCs. This is an over-the-top action game, and a parody of sorts that pays homage to the '80s style big screen action hero. Violence isn't only constant, but also exaggerated and brutally graphic in nature. Characters often explode into meaty chunks of gore. The game makes frequent use of profanity and crude humor, with occasional references to sex, drugs, and more. Players can also team up with others online, which can amplify the violence and also expose players to more offensive language via online chat.
Is It Any Good?
Serious Sam has shot, blown up, and bludgeoned his place in first-person shooter history for nearly two decades, but the main series has been left on the shelf for almost half that time. Serious Sam 4 is the first new entry in the main series in a while, and yet it's still feels sort of trapped in time. This is an awkward prequel-ish tale, taking place somewhere between the second and third games. Of course, the series has never been one known for its deep plot or engaging story. In fact, it's pretty much just a wafer-thin way to point players in the direction of enemies and set them loose on the invading hordes. Still, it doesn't really feel connected to the rest of the series. It's almost as if the game assumes players have just forgotten whatever has happened before, which, to be fair, is entirely possible.
The story isn't the way Serious Sam 4 feels trapped in time. The game just feels dated. The jokes and the attitude haven't changed much in twenty years and it shows. It's a bit like that "cool kid" showing up at the class reunion still wearing his sunglasses and letterman jacket. Considering how much the game pushes hardware, it's surprising that it doesn't look better. The only thing that makes it stand out, and the reason for the hefty system requirements, is the sheer number of enemies that can be on the screen at a given time. It's not so much that the creatures are difficult, but there's just so many of them. That doesn't make things difficult, but instead just makes it frustrating. Another surprise is the game's multiplayer options, or rather the lack thereof. This time around, multiplayer is limited strictly to four player co-op campaign play. If you want to see who among your friends is the better Sam, you'll have to wait for either a multiplayer update that could restore competitive play … or just wait for the next Serious Sam game and hope for the best.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.