by Josh Miller
reviewed on PC
A tasty treat from valve
You know that sweet little dessert that you look forward to after dinner? Well, that’s exactly what Alien Swarm is, because once you get to it, it is a blast which you thoroughly enjoy until it suddenly, sadly comes to an end.
Alien Swarm is a 3rd person shooter with an overhead view of the battlefield in which you and three friends work together to fight off a swarm of aliens (hence the name). Valve released this piece of pie free of charge. So just let that sink in for a few moments – a game, made by Valve, that is free. It is a formula for success no doubt, but is it really worth your time?
Left 4 dead…in space, with aliens!
That’s right; Alien Swarm follows a very similar format to Valve’s Left 4 dead series. This is because you’re placed in situation where you and three other survivors must traverse various corridors and walkways doing your best to survive a horde of hostile life forms with limited ammo.
That is as far as the depth of this game goes, because there really is no storyline, and though your objective will change from one task to the next with each level, you really only end up killing aliens, rinse and repeat. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because shooting the limbs off cartoon-styled aliens is amazingly entertaining. It really never gets boring, especially on the more difficult modes where you’re scrambling to outrun your friends, hoping that their deaths will buy you enough time to get to the next area.
Kicking ass and leveling up
You gain experience points at the end of every mission, with more points awarded for a better performance. Earn enough of these points and you will eventually rank up, earning new items or weapons to go with that rank. This system is similar to those found in other games like Call of Duty or Battlefield: Bad Company, and will often have you coming back to rank up more, even after you have completed the game. The weapons you gain from ranking up are spread throughout four classes of marines you can choose from, each of which has special bonuses and abilities. A medic, for example, can wield a medic gun and heal his hurt comrades. It is only through the cooperation of these four classes that one can hope to achieve victory in the campaign.
From start till finish, will not last from dusk till dawn
Though it is a fun game, Alien Swarm is not a long one. On the normal difficulty, an average player can find himself beating all seven levels in the one short campaign within about 2 hours. The levels themselves are pretty varied in objectives, whether they end with a boss fight or alien siege. Although you might come back once or twice after you’ve beaten the game in order to rank up, you won’t find yourself entertained by the game’s devices more than two or three times, which gives the game pretty low replay value.
A unique style
Valve created Alien Swarm using a modified version of their Source engine, and did a brilliant job doing so. The environments and characters may lack the intense detail you’ll find in most games, but the cartoony character styles along with great lighting and creepy film grain add up to a memorable experience.
The effects are especially satisfying when you shoot the limbs off your alien foes and find yourself bathing in alien gore. The marines you play as only deviate in color, but the alien models for the different species are particularly extravagant. These species range from the myriad of common drones that wield four bladed arms to the bulking Shieldbug that smashes its enemies and deflects bullets with three giant forward legs that together form a giant shield.
Worth more than a glance?
Alien Swarm is neither a long game nor an original one. Perhaps Valve thought that more people would create custom levels with the map editor the game came with, and did not think it necessary create to many of their own. However, with a fun atmosphere set by nice effects and game play, it does warrant a download and a portion of your weekend. You really can’t go wrong when it comes to this free game from Valve, and if you get some friends together for some good co-op action or just join a random session using the easy to use interface, you won’t be disappointed – until it ends, that is.
Fast Paced and intense combat with a nice leveling system.
Way to short of a campaign and little replay value.