Review by JonWood007

Reviewed: 07/27/10

Great game, but unsure of its lasting appeal...

Alien Swarm is a free game made by some of the developers at Valve. Yes, you heard that right; this game is FREE, and it's made by developers at Valve. That is easily a winning combination right there, and as expected, this game is very fun and very well made. However, at the same time, the game is also fairly light in terms of content, and I am unsure how long this game will be appealing to the average player.

Graphics: 10/10

The graphics of this game are great. The system requirements are on the high side, but at the same time are low enough for most modern PCs to run it. On max settings, the game looks amazing, and it is one of the more realistic-looking games I own.

Audio: 8/10

The audio is pretty good. There is very little music, but what is there fits the mood of the game very well. Sound effects and voice overs also sound decent. On the downside, some people I know have issues with their microphones while using this game. Either their microphone cuts out, or doesn't work at all.

Controls: 10/10

The controls for this game are fairly simple, are customizable, and work well.

Game Play: 7/10

Alien Swarm is a top-down shooter made by Valve on the Source engine, as opposed to a first person shooter like most Valve games are. This gives the game more of an arcade-like feel, and also gives players a larger perspective of the environment that they are in. It plays very similarly to Left 4 Dead and other similar games. Basically, you are part of a team that needs to work its way through a hostile environment fighting off waves of aliens and completing objectives. Overall, it works pretty well. As expected from a Valve game, the game mechanics are of fairly high quality. However, at the same time, some minor flaws exist.

First of all, one level of the game is very poorly optimized and lags at 20 frames per second, even on high end system easily capable of maxing this game otherwise. There have been people with high end video cards like GTX 260s and HD 5850s reporting issues with this one level. I mean, the game is playable, but still, when the rest of the game runs perfectly okay and this one level has all kinds of issues for large amounts of people, something is wrong.

Second of all, the connectivity of this game is terrible. I constantly have issues connecting to servers. Hosts also lag out, making everyone in that game room lag out. While an occasional lag out is not that bad, it happens way too often to be of concern. I never have issues like this with other Source games like Team Fortress 2 or Counter Strike.

Fun Factor: 8/10

This game is very fun to play, especially with a team of friends. On harder difficulties, players need to work together on tactics to beat the campaign, and when you play with your own circle of friends, the game can be a rewarding experience. It is still fun if you play with strangers, given your team is decent, however.

I am, however, unsure of this game's lasting appeal. The game only has 7 official levels, and they do get boring after a while....

Replay Value: 5/10

As mentioned above, the game's lasting appeal is questionable. Since the game only has seven levels to play, it feels a bit lacking. The levels that exist are amazing, but as it is, they're not enough to make a game that will be popular for a long time. Unless more campaigns come out in the future, the modding community will need to be the ones to keep this game going. This game at least has a very real possibility of having a wide array of custom content. To be honest, a play through of the base campaign alone takes less time than a play through of Portal. Obviously, the levels themselves have much more replay value than Portal's do, but they still do not have as much replay value as a competitive multiplayer game in my opinion.

Difficulty/Learning Curve: 10/10

This game is fairly new and it is easy to get in to. There are also four difficulty modes that range from "easy" to "insane". It should be possible for one to find a mode that works for them.

Overall: 8/10

Overall, Alien Swarm is a very high quality free game made by Valve on the Source Engine. Unlike other Source games, it is a top-down shooter as opposed to a first person shooter, but that does not take away from the fun of the game. While the game itself is great, the content is rather limited at the moment, and I am unsure of its lasting appeal.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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

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