Serious Sam 3: BFE is my first game of the franchise, and I only played the other entries after I finished Serious Sam 3. When I was doing my first complete run of Serious Sam 3, the Cloned Soldiers felt really out of place. Being hitscan enemies, I am pretty much forced to take cover and wait for their gunfire to cease, before I rushed in to kick one of them across the room and shoot his buddy in his stupid face.
The Cloned Soldiers first appeared in the second chapter, where they spawn in small squads. It is in a museum interior with rather tight corridors. Some of them carry assault rifles, some carry shotguns, and all of them force me to either take damage or to hide behind cover to avoid getting shot. I know the tagline for the game is “No Cover, All Man”, but if I don’t take cover I won’t be a man, I’ll be a corpse. Well, sooner or later.
And in some cases, I don’t even have much cover. It’s just us on either ends of the corridor taking shots at each other until one side dies. The level was about as exciting as teasing a kitten with a ball of yarn, and with the kitten at least there is something adorable to look at. Those Cloned Soldiers are hideous.
This is in contrast with the big fight in the first chapter. It is in an open plaza with Beheaded Rocketeers and Beheaded Kamikazes. The Rocketeers fire projectiles with high burst damage, and the Kamikazes sprint towards you and explode. So, the majority of the fight was me weaving between the Rocketeers’ shots and bashing their neck stumps in with the sledgehammer, and pulling out my pistol to take out the Kamikazes before they blow up in my face.
Comparing the two, the latter is way more fun since I never have to stop. The action is fast-paced and exciting throughout. The fights against the Cloned Soldiers in kind of like playing red light/green light. Hide behind cover, wait for gunfire to cease, pop out to shoot, duck back behind cover, repeat. I don’t really play Serious Sam for cover based shooting, much like how I don’t play racing games to observe the speed limit.
This got worse with the arrival of the Technopolip, essentially flying hitscan turrets. When they are first introduced, the only weapon at your disposal that can damage the thing is your rocket launcher. Only problem is, the only time the Technopolip won’t be able to dodge your rockets is when it is firing at you. I suppose that is one way to avoid the issue with the Cloned Soldiers by forcing me to not wait out enemy gunfire, but now it means I need to take damage to bring it down, rather than being able to avoid getting hit through proper movement like with the Rocketeers or the Werebull.
Somehow, that’s even worse than the situations with Cloned Soldiers. While the Cloned Soldiers messed up the pace of combat, at least there is something I can do to not get hit. Now, I am pretty much forced to take damage, and the best I can do is to minimize it, rather than being able to avoid it completely. Not to mention, the one moment I want to shoot the damn Technopolips, which is when they are not firing, is the one moment it can’t be hit. So for a large chunk of the time it’s active it’ll be drifting about above me, taunting me, and pissing me off to no end.
Thing is, hitscan enemies has always been in the game. For example, the Arachnoids have always been a staple of the series. And I’ll be honest, they all annoy me. Part of the fun in Serious Sam is dodging the projectiles or shooting them out of the air. It keeps the game exciting and creates a lot of cool moments. Hitscan ruins that by forcing you to either get hit or take cover, forming a bump in the otherwise great gameplay flow.
However, the Arachnoids are always in large, open areas where you can run between cover to get in close, rather than having to shoot at each other from a distance, as with the Cloned Soldiers. Or getting to shoot when the enemy isn’t shooting at you, as with the Technopolips. Somehow, the implementation of these two are so much more annoying than the Arachnoids, although they are all hitscan.
It could also just be that, in a world where giant alien monsters and headless bomb carriers yelling bloody murder, facing what looks like something that sneaked in from Call of Duty with some disguises slapped on it just doesn’t feel right.