I approached the E3 demo of Serious Sam 3: BFE as a complete neophyte to the series, having known the game by word of mouth alone. Shortly after meeting with Croteam, I discovered that my perception of what Serious Sam was had been wrong. So, so wrong. I could not have foreseen the massive funsplosion that would erupt before me.

My guide sat me down in front of the computer and, after a quick controls tutorial, set me loose upon the ravaged streets of wherever the hell I was. I remembered vaguely screenshots of a dated game, set in war-torn Egypt and rubble-strewn streets- memories of an old game, but not this. What I saw completely blew those old mental snapshots away. This game looks good and the devs at Croteam have obviously toiled to make it stand up among its peers in the current generation of PC standards. There are a confirmed total of twelve weapons and buildings are indeed destructible- players can use the crumbling terrain to their advantage. I started off by ripping the eyeball clear out of a gnaar with my hands, which resulted in one of the most satisfying kills I’ve ever experienced in a game.

Yeah, I killed this. With my FISTS.

It’s easy prey for Sam considering all the other wonderful horrors that have invaded Earth. The old adversaries are back with face-lifts, looking just as grotesque and unexpectedly hilarious as ever. The level I played through was filled with wide streets and hordes of aliens and I wished in that moment that I could have experienced the fourteen-player co-op for myself. The game is clearly designed to be played with friends and with good reason: while annihilating wave after wave of headless bombers is a blast, it just seems like it’d be even more fun with a few friends online to take part in the rampant carnage. This isn’t to say that having a solo romp through through this war-torn world isn’t enjoyable- on the contrary, I was laughing out loud after I found a shotgun and discovered that I never tired of felling one bomber after another. There’s something disgustingly rewarding about building a pile of bodies in Serious Sam 3. The chorus of screams that signal each Headless Bomber bum-rush is beautiful- even more so when accompanied by the chk-chk-BOOM of a shotgun.

While we weren’t able to use all of the weapons, we did get a feel for the minigun, a double-barreled shotgun, a sawed-off, and perhaps the most under-appreciated weapon of all time, the cannon. Pull the trigger and you’ll release a rolling cannonball the size of Indiana Jone’s boulder nemesis that explodes upon contact. I could just imagine the mayhem my friends and I would unleash on that map with those. Especially on some of the multi-player modes. Croteam confirmed the inclusion of good ole’ fashion versus scenarios in addition to the co-op, promising games like capture the flag, death match, and a survival mode.

If it's ugly, kill it.

The highlight of my experience came when I was cornered in a blown-out hut in the middle of a desert oasis. All of a sudden, the horizon darkened and I could hear the telltale screams of an impending shotgun-to-the-face killfest. I backed up into a corner as dozens and dozens of bombers got all up in my business. Meanwhile, the devs are over my shoulder, coaching, “Strafe! Strafe!!” But I was all about running backwards or standing still- which proved to be just as effective, despite the few close calls I lived through. One by one, they went down, but the flood seemed endless; I didn’t want it to end. Until I ran out of shells.

Still, the fun and frenzied, panic-inducing storms of monsters never dissuaded me. The game can overwhelm you with ridiculous odds, but it never for a second lets you believe that you can’t come out on top. If you’ve got the guts and the guns, you’ll survive. You’ll run for your life, you’ll be outnumbered, and you’ll feel like chaos itself has manifested around you. But you’ll love every second of it.

Aww... they're just playing.

Croteam wants players to have that signature Serious Sam experience with old enemies and weapons, but it also plans on introducing new baddies and bigger guns. It’s still the game you love at its core, but with new tricks and trappings. This game feels great, controls well, and has an awesome soundtrack to accompany the hours of ass-whooping that lay ahead. While it may be light on story, the gameplay more than makes up for it. Bottom line, the game is fun. Frankly, I couldn’t give less of a damn about Duke Nukem Forever- Serious Sam 3 has my attention this summer.  Duke can chew all the bubblegum he wants- Sam’s going to kick his ass anyway.

I want this game and I want it now, but Croteam tells me it’s not due out until later this summer. Until then, have a trailer: