A Cool Recommendation
After having reviewed a free to play first person shooter called Brink, I got a suggestion from fellow FanWriter Liam Padmore to play Alien Swarm. And I’m glad he did!
Let’s take a look.
What is Alien Swarm?
Alien Swarm is a free-to-play shooter game developed by Valve with assistance from the team behind the Unreal Tournament games. From what I could find, the game was originally a mod of Unreal Tournament 4 and won GameSpy’s Mod of the Year award back in 2004.
It’s also kind of a weird shooter in that you’re not actually on the battlefield…technically you’re above it. Yes, you read that correctly; you are somewhere above the field looking down on it.
I can’t say much on the subject of story because there doesn’t really seem to be one. Although, some of the stuff I read mentioned that there’s a planet infested with aliens and you and your team of marines are sent to clear them out. Not exactly new territory but hey, it’s better than nothing.
Where does Alien Swarm excel?
Conceptually, the game is interesting (although it shares some similarities with DOOM II) as well as visually stunning. Level design appears to be fairly solid as is the sound design. The aliens are unique in appearance and are suitably creepy.
The environments are all suitably lit for a dark and creepy horror/shooter game. The idea of looking down onto the action is an interesting approach which differs from the usual approach of a shooter which has the player right in the middle of the action.
It’s also quite a challenge when you’re suddenly swarmed by aliens so that’s a plus.
Where does Alien Swarm stumble?
Let’s start with something basic: immersion. This could, admittedly, be just a nitpick on my part but I found Alien Swarm to be a less immersive experience in comparison to shooters like Battlefield or Call of Duty. With those games, you’re in the middle of the action staring down the barrel of an M1A Springfield or whatever weapon on hand.
In this one you’re looking down on people holding guns. It’s not necessarily a bad thing but it’s just not the same. There’s also no actual tutorial to help you learn the controls; you’re just sort of thrown into the deep end and expected to swim.
Another stumbling point is the controls.
I hated the controls of this game! It’s funny the first time the guy you’re controlling walks into a wall; after 2 or 3 instances it stops being funny and starts to wear on your patience.
The AI characters who serve as your squad mates in the single player practice portion of the game also have a tendency to go off and do their own thing which is decidedly frustrating because, more often than not, you get skewered by an alien whilst trying to retrieve your wayward squad mate.
Final Thoughts: Flawed but Fun
In spite of its flaws, Alien Swarm is ultimately a lot of fun to play. I’ve gone back a couple of times to try my luck and been killed every time. I can’t say that it’s the best game I’ve ever played. It’s certainly not the best shooter I’ve ever played – that probably goes to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
I’m not sure I’d recommend it to hardcore FPS fans or even to just gamers in general; it’s just got a few too many problems in my opinion. That said, it’s free on Steam so you could play it without worrying about having to ask for a refund. With that in mind, and if you don’t necessarily care about the problems I listed, feel free to check it out.
So, that’s my review of Alien Swarm and I’d love to know what you lovely readers think of the game. Hit me up on twitter and let me know; have you played this? Are you likely to play it?
And if you want more cool stuff then check out this one on the story that might not be in the next Aquaman film and this one on Spider-Gwen and the Animated Spider-verse.