Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope Review — Serious Action, Serious Fun

by Tal Blevins • October 9th, 2017
Platforms: Rift (Reviewed), Vive
Positives

- A wave shooter where you have to use your brain
- Nice variety of enemy and weapon types
- Great visuals
- Fluid, fast-paced and fun

Negatives

- Inconsistent multiplayer matching
- Painful difficulty jumps

Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope recently came out of early access, where it’s been for almost a year. Even back then, early indicators pointed to this one being a winner, and Croteam continued to tweak, polish and add new planets and features to this classic PC shooter base over the course of the past 12 months. I will say that I’m personally getting a little burnt out on VR wave shooters, but The Last Hope is fast-paced, charming, twisted, fun and ultimately a wave shooter I’ve found myself going back to over and over again during the past week or so just to see if I can conquer the next level.

The core game consists of 20 levels: four missions on five planets. Although you’re mostly planted in place and can even play from a seated position, The Last Hope is built for room scale so you can move around a bit within each environment. There are even some levels that take place on a moving platform — both vertical and horizontal — adding a little variety and sense of mobility to the experience. Depending on how well you do and what difficulty level you’re playing on, you’ll gain weapon upgrades, skills and power-ups like double damage, massive orbital weapons and slowing down time. You can also play random-spawn Endless Wave and Arena modes with 8 planets apiece as well as Daily Challenges, but there aren’t many consistent players, so the leaderboards are littered with all the same names.

To say Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope is frantic is a vast understatement. When I first jumped in ready to do some John Woo-style dual wielding action I started on Normal difficulty, but with access to just the basic laser pistols, that became a futile and punishing journey. After popping down to Easy for my first few sessions, it allowed me to upgrade my weapons and skills, and also helped me remember the enemy spawn and movement patterns.

The pace and stratagem of Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope are some of my favorite aspects of the game. Waves generally start out slow, but ramp up quickly, give you a little breather in the middle, then rise again to a grand crescendo, often with a mega-sized boss staring you down. Sure, ultimately this is a wave shooter, but it’s more strategic than most, and getting through the wave comes down to less about just shooting constantly and instead thinking about what weapons to use, when to use your shield, what enemies to prioritize and when to use your super weapons, skills and power-ups.

While most levels have no-goodniks coming at you in a 180-degree half-circle, Serious Sam VR does a great job of mixing up the elevation with a number of different types of running, rolling, crawling and flying foes. My head was constantly rotating and pitching as I tried to spot enemies to the left, right, up and down — and in one stage — behind. The patterns became rhythmic and my movements became dancelike as I played more and let my muscle memory take over. It became a very Zen-like experience where my brain relaxed and my body just went with it. I’m also pretty sure I caught myself vocalizing “Pew! Pew! Pew!” on more than one occasion because I was getting into it so much.

Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope features a wide variety of guns from single-shot pistols and shotguns and a rocket launcher to more rapid-fire fare like automatic rifles, a chaingun and laser cannon. There are a couple of melee weapons, and while I found the chainsaw neat and satisfying to use as enemies closed in around me, it wasn’t very practical because if you let the creatures get that close, chances are you’re going down pretty fast. The power sword offers a good mix of both melee and range combat as it produces a huge energy wave that sweeps through hordes of enemies, but that also makes it overpowered and a bit cheap, although it was very handy at higher difficulty levels.

As I said before, the delta between difficulty levels is quite extreme, and while the jump from Easy to Normal wasn’t that crazy, going from Normal to Hard was just pure pain, and Serious level was like trying to dodge raindrops in a hurricane.

You can play the missions cooperatively, but I found co-op matching very inconsistent, with numerous server errors. It’s also hard to find a co-op game at all because there aren’t many people currently playing. Another drawback I had while playing was an annoying yet rare firing bug where one of my guns would just stop responding. I had to break the safety boundary with the gun to get the trigger to start responding again.

Final Score: 8.5/10 – Great

Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope combines frenetic action, testosterone-laden humor and beautiful graphics into a solid VR package that kept me coming back for more punishment. It has few minor blemishes and may not have lasting power for some gamers, but ultimately it’s one of the best VR wave shooters you can play. Now where did I put that rocket launcher?

Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope is now available on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive for $39.99. Check out our review guidelines to find out more about our process.

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  • Hone McBone

    I’ll grab this in a sale with the backlog I have, though I’m tempted to pick it up partly to support Croteam & the amount of games they’re releasing in VR.

  • dan bryant

    Great?
    Are you serious?

    • disqus_tIyJXz3xh9

      Upload has the WORST ratings. Serious Sam, 8.5, Robo Recall, 7.5, ARE YOU EVEN IN THE REAL LIFE.

      They are seriously out of touch.

      • Tal – UploadVR

        Absolutely serious — I really enjoyed it. And yes, I’m in real life, well as real as it is for any of us, I suppose.

        Totally open to different/varying opinions, so let us and others know what you thought about the game! And I won’t even judge you if you disagree :0)

        • disqus_tIyJXz3xh9

          You can enjoy it, that’s great! However, if you have ever played Robo Recall, it is leagues better than this game, on nearly every level (art, UI, UX, gameplay, narrative, etc). Anyone who has any time in VR can tell you this. It’s not about you enjoying the game (which is great) it’s about Uploads bull$$$$ review scale, which is all over the place, and drastically not uniform.

          • Tal – UploadVR

            Yep, I’ve played Robo Recall; I enjoyed it a lot, but I do wish it was deeper.

            Not sure what you mean by a “bull$$$$ review scale” or a review scale that’s “drastically not uniform,” but I will say you’ll never find a review site that matches your personal tastes 100%, or likely even 75%. Look at Amazon or Yelp or Rotten Tomatoes. Heck, even internally we don’t all like the same things the same amount.

          • disqus_tIyJXz3xh9

            You appear to be defending a completely wack review, which I was responding to the OP’s statement.

            Most people would have played VR would agree that Robo Recall is a much better game than Serious Sam, hence the shock at this “review.” Don’t take my word for it, check metacritic, Oculus reviews (Robo Recall is the most user-reviewed game they have) and just about any other site.

            I remember they also gave Damaged Core a masterpiece rating, LOL.

          • Tal – UploadVR

            Feedback like “a completely wack review” doesn’t clarify anything as I don’t have a dewackifying machine at my disposal. That would be extremely handy, though.

            It seems like you put a lot of importance on user reviews, and Serious Sam has a 9/10 “Very Positive” user review aggregate on Steam with 690 reviews. Robo Recall has a 7.6 average user review on Metacritic, with 15 ratings. Also a positive review. I personally like both Robo Recall and Serious Sam, and they were both rated positively on UploadVR.

            If you like Robo Recall but don’t care for Serious Sam, that’s fine, but it doesn’t invalidate my opinion or make it “wack,” it just makes it different.