I am currently going through Serious Sam TFE/TSE, since I had never finished them, and I have just finished SS4 recently, and got curious about the originals. I played the classic versions many, many years ago, before BFE was even a thing, and continuously attempted to do so over the years, but I never managed to get into it. This time, though, I managed to get through TFE on Hard (playing on Fusion as well, just because), and I still can't say I'm into Serious Sam. I can see why people like it, objectively, but after the first few levels, I find that the game gets either boring, frustrating, or just downright tiresome. The guns feel great to use and the combat is really good at teaching you how to manage crowds of enemies, not to mention you consistently find yourself thinking 'holy shit' at the sheer number of monsters that show up. The Metropolis level in particular really had me at the edge of my seat near the end thanks to the infamous 'Kleer Corridor'. I was a fucking idiot who missed the Cannon secret, so I had to rely solely on Minigun + Grenades/Rockets. That being said, the fact that they have you go through yet lengthy fight afterwards really bothered me. You'd have to be insane to try and do this without saves, and the level is already well over 50+ mins long. I don't think the length of the levels would be so bad if not for the fact that you also spend so much time just walking around with nothing happening as you explore. I find that this was a constant in Serious Sam: poor pacing caused by long, tiring fights interspersed with lots of walking around excessively large, empty areas. I get that it's supposed to give you some breathing room, but the lack of proper level design really makes it more of a chore. You spend minutes fighting huge waves of Kleers and Werebulls, only to have to walk along boring scenery afterwards with nothing happening except for the occasional secret. It makes the combat feel way less satisfying, and it's further exacerbated by fights like the ones in Karnak, which are so, so damn long, that they are tiresome by themselves, walking around notwithstanding.
Speaking of which, the game seriously overuses Kleers way too much; to the point of excess. I couldn't help but think that devs ran out of ideas for some ambushes and just thought 'lol just put like 20 Kleers over here.' The enemy variety in general is so poor in TFE. I can see that they were inspired by Doom, but it's like they also got everything wrong about what made the selection of enemies in Doom so good in the first place, resulting in enemies that are either too tanky (red scorpions/reptilioids) placed in annoying locations, too non threatening (all beheaded soldiers save for the kamikaze/Gnnars), or that only work in annoyingly large numbers (Kleers/Werebulls/Marsh Hoppers). Fuck the Marsh Hoppers, in fact. What the fuck is it with developers feeling like they need to put in at least one enemy whose sole purpose is to piss off the player. Yeah, I sure feel like I'm being challenged here having to fight a wave of 300+ frogs. Real fucking fun.
I want to write more about it, but honestly, Serious Sam just feels like a huge drag. If it was a Doom wad, I can almost guarantee everyone would think it's garbage except for coop. Slaughtermaps have far more thought put into them, unlike SS which basically drops the player in an excessively large arena and throws waves of enemies at you, spawning supplies every now and then in lieu of actually having to, y'know, design a proper fucking map. What's supposed to be an adrenaline-fueled, blood-pumping romp becomes so tiresome that I even after successfully slaughtering through an entire army of enemies, I never truly felt satisfied. I beat the game, but I didn't come out thinking 'wow I can't believe I fucking did this, that was awesome'. I thought to myself 'thank god this shit is fucking over, I need some sleep'. The whole thing is a slog. SS4 was also pretty bad about this sometimes, with some levels dragging on for so long that you just get tired of them. I'm 4 levels into TSE and while I'm enjoying it a little better, I'm having a hard time finding the motivation to actually go through with it. The additional weapons and enemies really spice up the game, but TFE really, really soured me, and some of its annoyances are still present, like excessive use of Kleers and non-existent level design outside of the occasional gimmick trap area, platforming section, or secret. Even Painkiller had occasionally interesting arenas that were more than just big open fields with nothing in them.
I'm probably going to replay some Doom wad to wash the taste of this game off my mouth. I'll try to beat TSE, but goddamn, Serious Sam is a slog.