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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.