Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem - New Game, Same Old Sam
It’s been a long time since I sat down with the game in the Serious Sam series. So when the opportunity came up to check its latest instalment, Serious Sam Siberian Mayhem came up, I went all in expecting some serious mayhem.
In this stand-alone expansion, our man Sam is sent into Russia, hot on the trail of the traitorous General Brand with the aim of stopping him from his nefarious plans.
Sam’s mission takes place over 5 Chapters – each bringing him one step closer to catching up with Brand. They’re surprisingly meaty to work through too, as I found each took the best part of an hour to work through. That’s before you add any extra time taken by needing to replay these sprawling levels when you succumb to enemy attacks.
If you’ve not sat down with Sam’s adventures before, one of the first things to be excited by is how each Chapter is one single enormous map. I still find myself seriously impressed by this, especially with how they twist and turn throughout your journey. Of course, you’ll also be interrupted by various encounters. I adore these, especially because of the number of hordes you’ll be beset by and tasked with clearing out, which is, of course, the series trademark.
These arena battles are amazing, though there are a few moments where you’ll find things aren’t just turned up to 11, but in fact go way higher. You’ll know them by being overwhelmed by such numbers that the screen can be a complete mess with the blood and gibs from defeated enemies sometimes cluttering up the whole screen.
Which, to be fair, is something the serious fans will go for. Besides, I certainly found it made those fights thrilling and incredible to work through. They also worked brilliantly for getting into a flow state – needing to think wildly and quickly as new types of enemies are thrown into the mix certainly keeps you on your toes.
It’s also made manageable by the number of weapons you’ll be taking along for the ride. I truly found them a serious highlight, that’s for sure. You’ll find many of the usual FPS staples here, but where I really found myself having the most fun with the more exotic ones on offer.
How does lugging about a giant laser gun sound? One which slowly heats its targets up until they explode in white-hot pieces? Absolutely spectacular.
If that’s not to your taste, then how about the cannon, which you guessed it, launches cannonballs at your enemies which can cut through a pack of them like a hot knife through butter.
For those who are veterans of the series, I’m sure many of these are ones you’ll have seen before, but as a lapsed player? I really found them both great to use and unique to handle.
I found these made a great foundation, but then there’s something I found even more amazing. The set pieces. There are only a few of these across the whole game, but when they occur, they’re incredible.
I was cackling with glee as I took command of a mech to clear out a refinery full of hostiles. I kept cackling when later on I found a tank, and you guessed it: took command of it to clear out a field where enemies were swarming down a hill.
The way in which they break up on the on-foot action makes it feel fresh and unique, especially as unlike vehicle sections in other FPS titles, the controls work great without the need for remapping controls to handle them.
Once again, it’s just another way I found the game kept you in that flow state.
It’s not all perfect sailing though. I found the difficulty balance was a bit off, at least early on. When I started, I set the game to the default Normal level, and I found it sat between a good challenge for most enough, and just that bit too much on some of the checkpoint ones. Dropping things down to the easiest difficulty helped with those, but resulted in the bulk of the levels feeling a bit too light on challenge.
Eventually though, I just left it on Easy and focused instead on having a ride of a time. Considering that Siberian Mayhem was developed by a bunch of modders, I’m certainly not going to give it a hard time for that, but you might want to keep it in the back of your head.
Serious Sam Siberian Mayhem doesn’t overstay its welcome – each Chapter offered up plenty of action without feeling too padded out, and though the final part of the story felt a little rushed, I was happy with how it all played out.
If you’re after replay value, I found it offered plenty of ways to challenge you to do better. Whether it’s finding more of the secrets hidden about the place, or just finishing each Chapter fast than before, it certainly will offer something for those looking for something to sink one’s teeth into.
But for me? I think I’m more than satisfied going back and having a blast with those set pieces, particularly on a day when I need to relieve a little pent-up stress.
Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem was reviewed on PC with code kindly supplied by Devolver Digital.