Serious Sam 4

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Serious Sam 4 Game Poster Image
Old-school shooter series feels outdated and overrated.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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

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.

Sex

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.

Language

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.

Consumerism

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."

What 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.

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What's it about?

SERIOUS SAM 4 is the latest chapter in the epic story of "Serious" Sam Stone, and his never ending battle to save the Earth from invasion by the alien overlord, Mental, and his massive army of warped and mutated creatures. Set during the events of the Mental War (just before the story in Serious Sam 3), the game details humanity's last major push against the full force of Mental's twisted armies. Facing overwhelming odds and little to no chance for survival, this is just the kind of fight the Serious Sam lives for. Armed with big guns and an even bigger attitude, Sam's ready for action. But this time, he's also brought a few friends to the Earth Defense Force, courtesy of four player online co-op play. But even with backup, will Sam be able to stand up against Mental's swarms of mutant death machines? Only time, and generous amount of bloody carnage, will tell.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about mature content in media. How can things like graphic violence, profanity, sexual content, and the like affect younger audiences? What are some ways that parents can discuss mature content and explain it to kids?

  • How have different genres and tastes changed over the years? What are some things that might have been considered acceptable in the past that might not pass the standards of today?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love cheesy '80s action heroes

Themes & Topics

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