The Serious Sam franchise has been a mainstay of the core videogame demographic for more than a decade. A first-person shooter (FPS) that launched in an era when the genre was first finding its feet, Serious Sam: The First Encounter changed-up the rules; eschewing logical puzzle solving, pathfinding and a slower pace for all-out carnage, influenced by the mayhem of arcade shoot-‘em-ups like the classic Robotron series. This time around, Samuel ‘Serious’ Stone is taking a leap into a brand new medium: can Croteam bring something unique to virtual reality (VR) just as they did the FPS genre 15 years ago?
Based on first impressions, the answer is a solid ‘no’. Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope is essentially another stand-and-shoot affair just like the many that already litter the HTC Vive software library on Steam and will accompany the Oculus Rift’s motion-control input, Oculus Touch, upon launch. It’s blessed with the recognisable aesthetic and dry wit synonymous with the franchise, but this can’t stop the experience from feeling derivative even at this early stage of VR’s evolution.
With a number of locations that will be familiar to fans of the Serious Sam franchise, players will face-off against literally hundreds of enemies in each level. The huge variety of enemy types each have different strengths and weaknesses, and thus different tactics must be employed to defeat them. Sadly, those tactics are typically limited to choosing the right weapon (providing you’ve purchased it) and whether or not to take out the incoming projectiles or concentrate on the foes marching towards your feet.
Once a level has been completed the player will be awarded in-game currency which can then be spent on new weapons, additional ammo or health. It’s not long before the player will have access to every weapon and are able to pick their favourites, ensuring they have the required ammo before venturing on to the next level. A recommendation? The infamous chainsaw is pretty good at keeping little biters away from your feet.
There are a couple of embellishments to the already well worn formula of VR shooting galleries. For example, the player can summon a grappling hook to receive additional health and other bonuses from floating power-up parachutes, and an upgradable skill tree is promised for the final build. However, it still feels as though Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope is set to become just another rung on the ladder opposed to redefining FPS experiences in VR.
Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope is currently sent for release via Steam Early Access later this month, so it won’t be long until we find out exactly where the saviour of humankind can take VR. Of course, VRFocus will keep you updated with all the latest details.