Reviews – Alien Swarm Review

Platform: PC
Publisher: Valve Corporation
Developer: Valve Corporation
Release date: July 19, 2010

Alien Swarm is a top-view shooter released by Valve in the summer of 2010 as a free game exclusive to Steam.  It combines elements from top-view shooters such as Super Smash TV and Robotrosn: 2084 as well as elements from survival games such as Left 4 Dead.

Similar to Left 4 Dead, this is a 4 player coop game.  While it is not required to have 4 active players, it is more fun to play with more players.  Unlike L4D though, this game doesn’t provide AI partners.  So if one person plays alone, they are not accompanied by 3 AI players.

There are four different class types to play in this game: Officer, Special Weapons, Tech, and Medic.  Also eight playable characters to choose from, so two characters per class, and each character having their own stats.  It’s best for the team to have a balanced range of different classes.  There are many missions that require a Tech class to hack doors open.  Also, this game has very few health and ammo pickups, so it’s important for the team to have one player as a Medic and another player to have ammo to supply the team.  After every mission, the players gain experience points that will unlock new items and weapons to equip.

Alien Swarm is a very hard game.  As previously stated, there are few med packs and ammo packs to be found in the missions.  Friendly fire is also always on in this game, so players have to be careful as to where they fire.  Reloading a weapon will discard any remaining ammo that was left in that magazine.  Getting ambushed by aliens from all directions is also very common in this game.  Also if a player dies, he’s out for the rest of the mission. These survival elements put together make for a very exciting experience.  Though, the missions are usually straight forward, and don’t have many objectives other than holding a point while the Tech hacks a terminal or unlocks certain doors.  With that in mind, playing too many missions in a row can get boring, but in short spurts I wouldn’t say this is a boring game at all; just the lack of variety can get boring in long sittings.

The control scheme is similar to a first person shooter, apart from the view being top-view.  The game plays responsive and works well with mouse and keyboard.  There is also the ability to play with a controller as well, but the option isn’t found within the options menu.  A quick search on Google can easily find instructions on how to switch to gamepad controls, and Alien Swarm works well with that type of controls as well.

The presentation of the game is well done.  Graphics look good for a downloadable game.  The lighting is excellent and adds to the mood of the game.  The space-trucker who spouts off mission objectives adds character as to what kind of future this is as well.  The sound isn’t anything impressive, but the music does add to the eerie tone of a survival game.  I did find the destructible objects adding some life to the environments.  So rather than running into an empty room that doesn’t interact with the player, boxes that break and barrels that explode give a more immersive feel.

While Alien Swarm isn’t the most solid package, it does offer a quality gaming experience.  I feel that it gets boring over long periods of play, due to the lack of variety in the gameplay, but in no way does it make Alien Swarm a bad game.  Anyone who is new to PC gaming or anyone who is looking for something new to play with their friends should definitely check out Alien Swarm.  The graphics are good, the gameplay is responsive as well as challenging, and the price is right.  I highly recommend this game and it’s worth trying out if you like action games, top-view shooters, online cooperative games, or survival horror games.

Alien Swarm can be obtained on Steam or by visiting this link

4 out of 5 stars

-“The Don” Stafa