Review by x2495iiiii

"But wait, there's more!"

I heard about this game from a friend saying it was a top-down alien shoot-em-up and that he hadn't played it yet, but it was free on Steam so who can beat that? Now, after hearing this, I was skeptical because there are about 15ish games on Steam that are free, and only two were able to hold my attention for more than 3 minutes. But none of the free games were like Alien Swarm, so I downloaded it and gave it a shot.

My first impression was a terrible mix of lag, sketchy audio, and a never ending slo-mo death (more on that later).

After making a few tweaks to my compy and doing some research however, I found that not only could the game run much more smoothly, but it could run nearly any way I wanted it to.

By going to the Options>Keyboard/Mouse menu, gamers have the choice of enabling a developer's console, which allows the changing of nearly any setting in the game game. Brighter lights? Got 3 commands for that. First person mode? Got a command to enable it, and another to alter the controls to accommodate it. An AI director (like L4D)? A command to enable and a command to empower. You can even change the color your flares burn if you want. You see, this is the kind of game where if you don't like something about it, you can just change it! but enough about this, on to the actual review.

Story(Yes, there's a story, and it's 7/10)
Pretty straightforward, I suppose. There's a scary lab facility type place infested with alien parasites and a team of four soldiers is sent instead of a whole army to investigate. I wouldn't even mention story if it weren't for the fact that, for a free game, they went to some pretty nice effort to include one. When you're not listening to your commanding officer tell you to look for survivors, you're reading e-mails on somewhat hidden PDAs on the events prior to and during the infestation. It reminds me a bit of Metroid Prime 2, reading the journals of the dead soldiers and feeling a little bit of despair knowing that you could be next. Having everything short of cinematic cutscenes in a game that could easily have opted for the 'shoot first, ask questions later' storyline gives it a 7/10 in my book.

Gameplay (8/10)
When it's done properly a with no lag, its actually quite fun. Use the "wasd" keys to move, the mouse to move a cursor which your character always faces, using the laser sight leading from your character's weapon to your cursor to aim and fire. There's also a nice melee attack, a rolling dodge, a crouch and slow walk, and several forms of communicating with online teammates. There are loads of weapons, some with auto-aim and grenades built in, and each character gets an offhand item that can be a weapon (like a mine), a health pack, or something else entirely (techs usually get hand welders). Oh yes, and there's 4 classes; officer, special weapons, medic, and tech. Officers boost damage of teammates and get a very cool shotgun that's easily the best of the starting weapons. Specs get piercing rounds, various combat bonuses, and an autogun with loads of ammo, high damage and auto-aim. Medics heal damage and cure infestation with a variety of healing gear, the best of which is the healing gun (makes friendly fire fun). And finally, the techs activate locked control panels via hacking minigames and can weld doors shut or cut open already sealed door (if they have the hand welder). The coolest part about this game, in my opinion, is that it encourages creative thinking, not just action. If there's a hallway too dark to see the attackers, chuck a combat flare in there and light em up (har de har). One alien has a frontal shield, so one character should draw his fire while the others flank him. Exploding environmental items (read: barrels) can also be used to your advantage, and can be used to catapult an unlucky parasite right into the camera! My only complaint was the slow motion. It's used in two places: important battles and following the death of a teammate. In important battles, it has a habit of bogging down the action to the point of being tedious. At least the camera remains the same though. When a teammate dies, however, the camera zooms in on them and you have to watch their body fall through the air for about ten to twenty seconds. You can still move and shoot while this is going on, but good luck making contact with your camera in corpse-o-vision. Also, there's a breathing sound effect that kicks in during slow mo that's cool at first, but gets old fast. Oh, and both slow mos lag like crazy, so it feels like they last forever. 8/10 for being excellent, but having some nasty lag issues and really making you feel guilty for letting a teammate die.

Sound (8/10)
Tends to repeat a lot when lagging, but otherwise just fine. Dialog happens between the marines and from the commanding officer, there's lot's of screeches and squishes from the aliens, and epic game music kicks in at action scenes. The game even lets you choose what music you want to kick in during adrenaline, with a console command.

Pros
+Solid fun
+Very customize-able
+Enough weapons, achievements, and difficulty levels to keep you occupied for awhile

Cons
-Crappy slo mo action
-Lagging is common
-Only one campaign

Overall (8/10)

Final notes:
Dude it's free, just download it already.
Oh and by the way, if you want bots in an online game, there's a console command for that. Google it guys.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/27/10

Game Release: Alien Swarm (US, 07/19/10)


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