Alien Swarm Review

By on August 7, 2010

For a $0 price tag, Valve’s 4-player co-op shooter is just as good if not better than any.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

It’s easy to dismiss Alien Swarm as a re-thought, re-modeled sci-fi Left 4 Dead. And why not, both games are developed by the same people; both are 4-player co-op and both play almost entirely the same way. Well, almost. Besides the traditional-FPS vs. top down difference, Alien Swarm is vastly different with its class-based characters, skill points and unlockable weapons, and funnily enough, it was actually conceptualized before Left 4 Dead. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that L4D was inspired, conceived out of the original idea and produced with a mass-friendly touch.

You see, Alien Swarm originally started out as a mod for Unreal Tournament 2k4 developed by a team called Black Cat Games. With rising popularity, the developers began work on a full stand alone title. That’s about when Valve kicked in with its big boots and big bucks. Sensing some talent, Valve picked up the team and put them to task of converting the game to the Source engine. After that though, the development got derailed and in the meanwhile, the devs. spawned two amazing games in the form Left 4 Dead and Portal. Now, six years later, Valve finally decided to complete the project and released it for public consumption, and all for $0.

Alien Swarm plays out very much like L4D. If you have played the shooter, you will adjust right into this game. The basic premise remains the same: something has gone wrong, you are 4 guys and you have to go through levels after levels blasting away enemies (alien bugs this time around) while looking out for each other’s back.

That’s where the similarity ends. Instead of just four characters to pick from, you have 8 characters belonging to four different classes: Tech, Medic, Officer and Special Weapons. Each character brings his/her own beneficial abilities to the class, such as one character in the Medic class may have slower health and infection healing prowess but possesses better damage, reload and speed bonuses.

Loadout customization also plays a huge part and can make a difference between victory and quick, disgraceful death. You start out with a basic class-based fit out and unlock more kickarse stuff as you level up. Leveling up isn’t too complicated: you gain points based on your performance like number of kills, achievements gained, friendly fire avoided and completing objectives. As you progress, you unlock weapons and special add-ons. The weapons are pretty run-of-the-mill which includes the likes of assault rifles, flamethrowers, laser guns, dual wields, shotguns, sentry guns and even a chainsaw. However, the real real difference you will make in your loadout is the choice of your special add-on. These add-ons provide health bonuses, auto-aim capabilities, and/or additional fire power. You can choose from a range of stuff like armor, auto-target missiles, freeze grenades, personal health kit, trip mines, flares, etc. The add-ons must be chosen wisely, should be dependent on the level and it can get you out of some pretty sticky situations. Choked in a corner? Freeze ‘em. Facing armored bugs? Pound them with missiles. Expecting a four-cornered attack, set up mines and watch the fireworks. The customization is deep and the wide variety of choices ensures you will never approach a particular situation the same way.

The game comes with six official missions: Cargo Elevator, Deima Surface Bridge, Landing Bay, Ryberg Reactor, Sewer Junction B5 and SynTek Residential. Each map features unique objectives to complete like powering up a reactor or activating a switch – the usual sci-fi drama. The maps are small though, and can be done in an hour or so; however, Valve has offered up the complete SDK for free along with the game in the hopes that the mod community powers the game forward with new mods and levels.

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The Scorecard
The game offers deep customization and challenging levels that makes co-operative playing necessary.
Not the prettiest but packs in great lightning and special effects.
It just about does the job. Soundtrack is average, voice acting is passable and dialogue is hurried. But hey, it’s a free game so…
If not the official content, the mod community will make sure you keep on playing the game for a long time to come.
I love it when a plan comes together.
Addictive. Fun. Community driven. Free. Where can it go wrong?


Mufaddal Fakhruddin is the Editor for IGN ME and thinks writing in third person about himself in an about me section is weird.

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  • McD419

    WOW, free , come on there must be some strings attached , if not then valve rules !!!!!!!!!!!

    • mufaddal fakhruddin

      There aren't any strings that I know off. In fact, Valve is continually updating the game adding features and fixes as it goes.

      • McD419

        yeah i played the game not used to it after countless hours of playing Bad comany2 and mw2,
        hey i also wanted to ask can i send reviews to this site to be published and stuff

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