It is Friday again and the work week is over. You know what that means… time to sit back, relax, and exterminate an alien infestation. Alien Swarm is a free game that was recently released onto the Steam network by Valve. The game includes 1 full co-op 4 player campaign and a source developer kit (SDK) to encourage community modding.
What’s the story?
Alien Swarm was designed by the team originally known as Black Cat Studios. Before being hired by valve this was the team that created the original Alien Swarm as an Unreal Tournament 2004 mod. This is the same group of people that worked on Left 4 Dead and Portal 2. But let’s get on to the part you really care about, the game.
You’re an IAF Soldier in a squadron of marines ordered to investigate an alien infestation of a colony somewhere in space. As it turns out the infestation is more severe than previously thought, and your small group of 4 marines is in for more than they bargained for.
The game fluently incorporates a 4 person co-op vs. a huge and endless alien swarm. There are multiple different alien bugs to squish, and multiple different devices to use against them. If you’ve played Left 4 Dead, then you are probably already familiar with this style of play. But, rather than being a first-person shooter, Alien Swarm incorporates a top-view 3rd person camera that gives you a stylish look at the entire surrounding battlefield.
As a co-op game, the major feature of the platform is the ability to play with your friends and steam buddies. Changing your squad layout and equipment can completely change the dynamics of the game, but the overall theme statically remains: “Work Together.”
Alien Swarm features four different classes to choose from, with a total of eight different characters to play. Each character has different statistics and bonus traits, and each class can use different types of equipment specific to them. For example, the “Medic” is the only class that can use the Medkit, but it is also more effective with Adrenaline boosters and other squad enhancements.
There are over 40 different types of weapons, but you will have to unlock most of them. The game starts out with just the basics and you will have to play through and earn “XP” in order to gain access the locked equipment.
If the raw bbq’d-alien action isn’t enough, Valve has kept this game consistent with their other titles and included “Achievements.” Throughout play you can strive to accomplish tasks that will give you some fat bragging rights against other players. Some of these achievements are extremely easy, while others range on the near impossible. Of course they are purely for aesthetics and grant no functional reward, but the achievement titles and descriptions are surely entertaining. Additionally, there are quite a few references to other games in the Steam line up, aka free advertising.
Overall Alien Swarm is a fun game with a lot of replay value. Just to mention again, it’s free, and it’s on steam. Those two reasons alone are groovy enough to at least give it a shot. I personally give it two groovy thumbs up!