‘Serious Sam 3: Jewel of The Nile DLC’ Review – Everything Explodes. Again.
It seems like it’s getting harder and harder to find good value for money in DLC. There’s been some good, lengthy addons released in the past couple years, but it seems like most studios are happy to release three small multiplayer maps, slap a $10 price-tag on it and call it a day. You’d be excused for being cynical, then, when you see that the Serious Sam 3 expansion – Jewel of The Nile – carries a similar price-tag and boasts just three more levels. Don’t let the number deceive you – any other game would have broken each of these massive battlefields into several smaller maps, and the estimated par time for each one is around the 50-60 minute mark.
The three new levels are much larger and more sandboxy (appropriate, given the desert environment) than those in the original game, with objectives being scattered around large regions and filled with monster spawns triggered as you progress further. Rather than eagerly hand you health and ammo, you’ll often have to scavenge and poke around for supplies, and there’s plenty of secret areas holding additional gear. Being launched separately from the main game, Jewel of The Nile starts you out with only the very most basic of equipment, and it takes the entire first level and a bit of the second to feel like the game is back up to speed again. Once it reaches that familiar rhythm it manages to stay there for the remainder of the addon, and even shakes things up a little in the third stage by giving you a jetpack for a while, allowing you to fight and navigate freely in three dimensions until a plot contrivance takes your new-found powers of flight away from you.
While Jewel of the Nile manages to sneak a lot of content in under the meagre-sounding header of ‘three new maps’, the paradigm shifts into reverse for the weapons. The two ‘new’ guns were featured in the base game as hidden weapons, held back by a lack of ammo packs. While the quad-barreled laser gun and sniper rifle are fun to use, they’re not going to set the world on fire, especially as they behave exactly as they did in the original Serious Sam. The official blurb’s boast of a new ‘battle axe’ weapon is also rather cheeky. It’s actually a fire axe, and it’s a straight reskin of the sledgehammer you used throughout SS3, doing the exact same damage and using the same old animations. The new enemy type is a refugee straight from Serious Sam HD, and the new boss is a giant version of a regular enemy.
It would be missing the point to complain too much about that, though. This is more Serious Sam, and the level design lends itself better to repeated play and cooperative antics than the original release. Enemy placement also changes somewhat on higher difficulties, giving you more reason to return to the expansion levels, and the secrets are well hidden and occasionally quite creative. While it does take some time until you’re fighting armies of monsters with a rocket launcher again, the scavenger-hunt gameplay of the first map is a decent warmup for those who haven’t played SS3 since it first launched last year. It’s also worth noting that alongside the release of Jewel of the Nile, the game got a major patch which greatly improved the efficiency of the game engine, and even added a few new survival and deathmatch levels, so even if you aren’t sold on the DLC, it might worth giving the game a fresh look.
In the end, Jewel of The Nile is fun, replayable, and generally above-average as far as DLC goes. It’s hard to shake the feeling that it was padded out a little, and given that the underlying (and much larger) game was recently on sale for around the price of this addon, it’s hard to recommend it wholeheartedly. For huge fans of Serious Sam (see our full review of SS3 on sister-site DIYGamer here) wanting some more co-op stages, it’s an easy sell, and for those on the fence it’s a no-brainer once the inevitable winter sale discounts hit, but while good, I can’t really call this an essential. Jewel of The Nile is available now for PC via Steam, and for the 360 via Xbox Live Arcade.
Review summary Pros:
Big, complex, replayable levels. A good spread of combat styles across a range of terrain. More Serious Sam, and jetpacks make everything better.
New weapons are a bit of a cop-out. Environments are very similar to that of vanilla SS3. New boss is a little anticlimactic.