Reader Review: Alien Swarm

Reader Review: Alien Swarm

Reader Review: Alien SwarmDo you have what it takes to get a review published right here on Kotaku? Steven does, as he stands right under the primary heat exchangers.

Yes, that’s right, we’re now publishing reader reviews here on Kotaku. This is your chance to deliver sensible game purchasing advice to the rest of the Kotaku community.

And thanks to the very kind chaps at Madman Entertainment, purveyor of all kinds of cool, indie and esoteric film, the best reader review we publish each month will win a prize pack containing ten of the latest Madman DVD releases.

This review was submitted by Steven Bogos. If you’ve played Alien Swarm, or just want to ask Steven more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Alien Swarm (PC)

Alien Swarm is the spiritual successor to the UT2K4 mod of the same name, created by the former authors of the mod after they were recruited to work at Valve. Because they made the game in their spare time, Valve decided to release it for free. Yes, you read right, for free. If you have a Steam account, you can download this game right now and play it for as long as you want, including all fan-made mods and maps that may become available in the future.


Guns and Ammo: Alien Swarm has four distinct classes, each of them capable of equipping a plethora of guns, support options (such as a TF2 style medi-gun, a sentry gun and an ammo box) and secondary tools (such as grenades, extra armour and adrenaline shots). You unlock more and more items as you play at a steady enough pace to keep the game interesting enough to warrant multiple playthroughs.

Top-Down Terror: I’m a huge fan of the top-down camera; in a game like Alien Swarm it’s a particularly nice touch, as you can effectively keep an eye out for beasties from every direction. More games need to be made in this perspective!

Simple: Alien Swarm is, at its core, very simple. You can tell that it’s the same team behind Left 4 Dead, with hints popping up at just the right time in order to let new players settle in, and a learning curve that is easy to pick up and play, yet still has a level of depth. There’s also an offline practice mode if you’re feeling particularly unsure of yourself.


One Mission: Alien Swarm at launch only comes with a single mission. I know it’s supposed to be supplemented with subsequent fan-made campaigns, but at the moment it feels a little bare. The mission takes about as long to finish as a single Left 4 Dead campaign (not including the Passing or Crash Course).

Matchmaking: Once again matchmaking fails us. Unless you use the ‘hidden’ server browser to find an Aussie dedicated server, or start a private game with some friends, you’ll usually find yourself plonked into an American or European server, with pings hitting as high as 500ms.

Parasites: If you get infected, and your medic is dead/too far away, it’s pretty much game over. A secondary cure to the infection, like having a teammate spam melee attacks on you, or even running through fire, would have been nice.

Overall, Alien Swarm is a fun little project from Valve. On top of that, all of my ‘hated’ points can be countered out by the fact that the game is freaking free! There’s really no reason to not download it because of this. There have already been a couple of bug fix patches to this game, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume Valve will give it a similar level of post-release support to its other games, regardless of its freeness.

Reviewed by: Steven Bogos

You can have your Reader Review published on Kotaku. Send your review to us at the usual address. Make sure it’s written in the same format as above and in under 500 words – yes, we’ve upped the word limit. We’ll publish the best ones we get and the best of the month will win a Madman DVD prize pack.


    • It does! I discovered this after posting the review.

      I’ve found the best cure for infestation however, is to avoid it entirely! Once you know the campaign well enough, you pretty much know all the set locations where parasites spawn. On parasite-heavy maps, the best thing to have is a flamethrower

  • Dude, try the the L4D director mode.

    Can;t remember the actual commands, but there’s a news post in steam’s alien swarm news that links to a list of them!
    Also first person mode!

  • Medics are essential for Insane missions, and even still, unless you have a cohesive team you’ll likely fail the hell out of it. It’s even more annoying walking/blinking straight into a bunch of parasites (Landing Bay and Timor Station respectively)

    I found this extremely fun, and although I don’t enjoy having to go over levelling from 1 to 27 four times over, it still wasn’t too hard considering the speed of exp for good runs.

    Also, a link to the Alien Swarm Steam forums:

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