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.