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Alien Swarm: Valve's newest, freeest, game
July 19, 2010 8:24 PM   Subscribe

If you don't mind installing Steam and are running a version of Windows, you can download and play Alien Swarm for free. It's a top-down shooter with four-player co-op of you and your friends against the aliens.
posted by demiurge (72 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Notably, I think it comes with the source sdk, so any of the free games that require it here are also available to you.
posted by juv3nal at 8:39 PM on July 19, 2010


Surely there will be a Mac port soon, yes? Pretty please?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:53 PM on July 19, 2010


This game is stupid hard, by the way.
posted by hellojed at 8:54 PM on July 19, 2010


Awesome!
posted by joey! at 8:57 PM on July 19, 2010


This game is a blast. And free tf2 hat!
posted by absalom at 9:02 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pepsi Steam?
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:05 PM on July 19, 2010


absalom: This game is a blast. And free tf2 hat!

Aw damn, I was sold at "free top down shooter on Steam," but, damn.

Off I go.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:09 PM on July 19, 2010


Threeway Handshake: "Surely there will be a Mac port soon, yes? Pretty please?"

It's based on Source, isn't it? I assume a port isn't out of the question. Here's hoping. This looks fun.
posted by brundlefly at 9:09 PM on July 19, 2010


Hmm. A Mac port? If this is DirectX (which the "Windows-only" thing would seem to indicate) then porting it to OpenGL seems like it'd be tough...

Anyway, I've been meaning to actually play a computer game for a while I will check this out. Thanks!
posted by koeselitz at 9:14 PM on July 19, 2010


Mefight Club members are all over this, predictably. Search for the 'MefightClub Alien Swarm' group on Steam and join it to get announcements for game lobbies starting up and such (and join any of our other dozen or so groups or the overall Metafilter group to get the same for any of the other things we play, of course).

Provided you'd like to play with us rather than shrieking 12-year-olds.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:25 PM on July 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


He was trying to be witty and clever. He failed. Flag it and move on. Let's leave the thread shitters alone and talk about what the thread's about, hmm? MetaTalk's for callouts.

By the by, it's a great game. It's got the atmosphere of any of the good space movies which involve little-understood, extraordinarily-dangerous buglike insects which use humans as breeding pits for their young. It's got good sound, excellent atmosphere (good use of darkness to mask approaching danger, coupled with a on-screen radar to warn you of incoming bugs), a ton of tactical loadout combinations to choose from, RPG-like elements, and so on.

The RPG elements come from you levelling up as you play - doesn't matter which character you use (you can choose from one of eight characters, with four different specialisations) - it stays with the account you used to log into Steam. It restricts choices early on but as the choices do get quite varied it may overwhelm new players, so it's not a bad thing. You can choose from carrying a gun, a support gadget (e.g. a sentry gun, extra ammo, or a healing device), a personal medpack, tripwire mines, etc. Or you could carry two guns. Or maybe a flamethrower and an overpowered tazer, among other things.

Very fun, and with the freedom given to modders it's a good bet this game will have some longevity. And best of all, it's free.
posted by WalterMitty at 9:31 PM on July 19, 2010


[For fuck's sake, shoesfullofdust, give it a rest. I shouldn't have had to delete the comment the first time, let alone the second.]
posted by cortex at 9:32 PM on July 19, 2010


Where's the mac port. :( I thought they were going to release both simultaneously moving forward, or am I misinformed about that? They better not renege on a Portal 2 mac port or I will make a very irate forum post (before going to buy a new PC, obviously).
posted by cj_ at 9:44 PM on July 19, 2010


Surely there will be a Mac port soon, yes? Pretty please?

Don't worry man, we can play CS:S and DoD:S and have fun like the PC people did in 2005.
posted by tuck_nroll at 9:46 PM on July 19, 2010


Nobody played Counter Strike anymore in 2005! It was too popular!
posted by Artw at 9:51 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Sure," you think, "I'll install Steam for this here free game. What's the harm in that?"

So you get the free game and it's pretty fun. Steam is always running in the background.

Then you start getting friend invites on Steam from people you know. That's all fine and good, but then you start getting friend invites from people you meet in game. And you don't want to be rude, so you accept their invites.

And then you notice that everyone on your friends list is playing all these cool games. And hey, they're pretty reasonably priced. And, oh, Team Fortress 2 is on sale this weekend, so maybe I'll see what the fuss is about.

Let me save us all some time and tell you how this ends. It ends in you, naked and bleary-eyed, mashing F5 at 11am because you can't sleep until you know what the day's deals are. It ends with you "owning" over 300 games on Steam but never playing any of them. It ends with you begging people on your friends list to spot you $2 for a new indie game because your credit card is maxed out but you've heard the mechanics are oh-so-innovative.
posted by ODiV at 10:35 PM on July 19, 2010 [22 favorites]


That is why I own 3D Ultra Minigolf Adventures.
posted by boo_radley at 10:38 PM on July 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh fuck, thanks for reminding me about the deals. I'd almost stayed away for a whole day.
posted by breath at 11:00 PM on July 19, 2010


It looks a lot like the Alien Breed reboot (also on Steam).

ODiV, you just described why I bought a Mac. If they ever release Garrys Mod for Steamplay, I'm done for.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 11:04 PM on July 19, 2010


Alien Smarm.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 11:04 PM on July 19, 2010


tuck_nroll: Don't worry man, we can play CS:S and DoD:S and have fun like the PC people did in 2005.

We have an iMac and a PC laptop, and it drive me nuts how few games there are that we can actually both play at the same time. TF2, and HL2, and Civ4, and, uhmm...

I give Valve points for trying, I really do, but c'mon, the Apple crown needs L4D2 and this, at least.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:05 PM on July 19, 2010


I was not very impressed with Alien Swarm. The demo campaign is full of a lot of serious bullshit - bomb-throwers on platforms at differing elevation so that you can't shoot them, requiring use of a lousy weapon for one level, the mandatory Tech - and there are just a lot of unpleasant design decisions. It's a class based game that requires a Tech because levels have Tech-only switches, a Medic because you will die without a Medic, and then two more spread in some way between Officer and Special Weapons. If you want to make a game that requires a balanced team, then code that in - make you have one of each, and let players pick which they're going to be. If you're going to balance the game such that a group of less than four players is just going to get overrun, then populate online games with bots that can be replaced mid-level by players, like Left 4 Dead did it.

Also, rebalance the weapons and equipment so 80% of them aren't useless and terrible.

I'd like to see a Weapon Cache as a placeable object in the map editor. Let players standing next to a Weapon Cache open up the loadout menu and change their gear mid-level, and have a player joining an online game in progress pick their class from the classes currently occupied by bots and just get spawned with the rest of the team. Then you'd have a much better game.

Also, infestation is completely bullshit. If there isn't a Medic that's alive, right next to you, and not otherwise occupied, you are dead in seconds. That is inexcusable.
posted by kafziel at 11:15 PM on July 19, 2010


The demo campaign is full of a lot of serious bullshit

Just so you know, this isn't a demo campaign. It's the full game. This a was originally a mod before Valve hired its developers and had them port it to the Source engine.
posted by arcolz at 12:09 AM on July 20, 2010


If that's supposed to be the full game, that's a pretty sad offering. I was giving them the benefit of the doubt in assuming it was supposed to be a tech demo for what is apparently a pretty excellent level editor.
posted by kafziel at 12:19 AM on July 20, 2010


If that's supposed to be the full game, that's a pretty sad offering. I was giving them the benefit of the doubt in assuming it was supposed to be a tech demo for what is apparently a pretty excellent level editor.

Which is free.

Plus, this (via rockpapershotgun):

Here is something of mindblowing importance:

There is an in-game editor which can randomly generate missions.

In Steam Tools, install the Alien Swarm SDK.
Run the game as normal.
Activate the console.
Open it.
Type ‘SV_Cheats 1′
Type ‘ASW_tilegen’

There you go. One level editor. I just tested it. Without hyperbole, it took me three minutes to generate and compile a whole new level from scratch. And then I was playing it. And died really quickly because there were no bots to help me, but whatever, it WORKS.

I repeat: THIS GAME HAS A RANDOM MISSION GENERATOR AND IN-GAME EDITOR. The number of missions is officially infinite without ever touching Hammer. Have fun

posted by Sebmojo at 12:29 AM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


If that's supposed to be the full game, that's a pretty sad offering.

A pretty sad offering for the price of free? I don't think anyone assumed this was going the be a Half-Life or Left 4 Dead level offering. It's a engine-port version of a years old mod, designed to show the Source engine could be used for more than just FPSes.

Also, it's free.

As in you didn't pay anything.
posted by arcolz at 12:30 AM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, it's both. It's also free...
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:31 AM on July 20, 2010


Also this may be relevant:(from the same place)


This game rules all ass forever, but don’t even bother playing offline practice for more than 5 minutes- just enough to get some of the basics down, really, but that’s about it. Unlike Left4Dead it’s pretty much unplayable by yourself.


Ooh, it just finished downloading.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:31 AM on July 20, 2010


It looks a lot like the Alien Breed reboot

Yep.

Downloading, downloading...
posted by rodgerd at 12:37 AM on July 20, 2010


I've only had time to play this about an hour, so my impressions will be necessarily limited, but this is what I think so far.

This is an old-school game, in the sense that it's trying to be fairly realistic and hardcore. What would it be really like to be a squad of four marines fighting off a swarm of Alien-like bugs? It's, y'know, movie reality, not REAL reality -- it's not like we've settled other planets, nor have we ever fought anything much nastier than tigers -- but if you grant the game's premise, it seems to try hard for accuracy within that context.

Most games these days have built-in tutorials, where they introduce a mechanic, and then teach you how it works, and then give you a simple puzzle to cement it. The game hands you a cookie and pats you on the head. Then it gives you a more advanced version of the puzzle, pats you again when you succeed, and proceeds to real challenges, slowly scaling up their complexity. It's all gentle and warm and forgiving, steering you back to the right path if you get it wrong, perhaps tsking at you if you die and starting you over at the last checkpoint.

Alien Swarm isn't like that. You have a fair number of weapons to begin with, and it looks like you can unlock a heck of a lot more. The game teaches you nothing about how to use them, or even which ones are worth a damn. It gives you no idea what the heck is going on, because, well, you don't know what's going on. Maybe you brought the wrong equipment, maybe you have the wrong classes. It's up to you to make it work, not the game. It will happily rip your guts out and growl "too slow!" at you, while feasting on your entrails.

To this game, you are calories on the hoof with some annoying popguns. If you want to keep your calories inside your skin, you're going to have to use your brain.

Your resources are very limited. Most weapons have clips, and if you do a manual reload earlier than usual, you lose whatever ammo was in the old clip. Friendly fire is on, and you have to be very careful not to shoot your buddies. Firing angles are limited, and aliens will frequently be coming at you from every direction at once. One person alone will typically be overwhelmed in just a few minutes -- remember, the backstory is that these planets have been completely overrun by the aliens, and they are badass motherfuckers. They move fast and have very lethal attacks; even your good armor will only last for about three hits. Every other human on these planets is probably long dead, and you will be too if you're not smart and aggressive.

You don't want the aliens getting through your fire zones... if they get between you, shooting them is going to end up fragging friendlies. So you need people watching every direction, plus new directions that you'll have no clue exist until they get used.

And, no matter how well you play personally, if someone else makes a mistake, you may all end up hurt or dead. Everyone is desperately dependent on everyone else to get it right. We were playing at 'hard' difficulty, doing quite well, and then we found out about Infestation. That's these little bastard headcrabs, and we had no idea how to deal with them.

Result: four nice bags of delicious, delicious calories, plus a few scattered pieces of military hardware.

I think this has an excellent chance of being one of the Truly Great Games.
posted by Malor at 2:36 AM on July 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh, and on the possibility of a Mac port: I'm sure it could be done, but this game seems unusually pretty by Source standards, using many graphic effects and a great number of polygons on screen. I doubt that most Macs will have enough grunt in the video card to run it very well. A Mac Pro with a top-end card might do okay, but I think it would be a disappointing experience on pretty much everything else Apple has ever shipped.
posted by Malor at 2:39 AM on July 20, 2010


So it's like a modern co-op ghosts n goblins?

I may have to finally build my new gaming rig because that sounds awesome to me. I am really tired of easy hand-holding games walking me through to the end no matter how shitty I play, interspersed with boring unskippable cutscenes.
posted by cj_ at 2:46 AM on July 20, 2010


cj_: Well, it's probably not that brutal, but I've only played it about an hour, so I can't say for sure. It's definitely not holding your hand, and it will happily kill off your squad if you don't get things right. But it doesn't seem to be actively cruel like Ghosts N Goblins was. You've got a fair chance, if you're smart and play well as a team.

I always got the impression that G&G snickered at you for being dumb enough to even play.
posted by Malor at 2:54 AM on July 20, 2010


Indeed, gng was designed to farm quarters from kids with a roll in their pocket, like nearly every arcade game made in that era. But I love the concept of an actual challenge. Something you have to work at, and get good at, to beat.

I totally beat gng with an emulator, making liberal use of freeze/restore and it just makes you do it again when you get to the end. That game is a huge LOL FUCK YOU. I love it, though. I also wonder if anyone really made it that far on quarters.
posted by cj_ at 3:40 AM on July 20, 2010


I think this has an excellent chance of being one of the Truly Great Games.

So, so seconded after an hour of pubbie play with three randoms. It's wonderful.

In case it hasn't come up -- it's really for online multiplayer. The offline practice is only one map, as far as I can tell - gives you an idea of what it's like, but you can't play the full game.

Well you probably can if you futz with commandlines, but eh - DIVE IN.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:29 AM on July 20, 2010


Also, check out this lovely bit of story from the awesome Quintin Smith, about Alien Swarm's UT 2004 predecessor.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:35 AM on July 20, 2010


Just spent my lunch hour playing it with 3 coworkers and had a blast. It's challenging but it's not super difficult. We were on hard difficulty straight off the bat and got through about 4 missions.

Good fun though. Trying to decide if I like the fact that all the classes level up regardless of which class you play. It's kind of handy as you can swap between the classes whenever you want, but it also takes away some of the replay/longevity of the game.

tl;dr: Worth every negapenny.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:20 AM on July 20, 2010


Sounds like a modern remake of the old PC classic Space Hulk, which was so brutal that I only ever finished level 1 once. I'll have to go give this a try!
posted by Vindaloo at 6:49 AM on July 20, 2010


It looks a lot like the Alien Breed reboot

if I had any time to play either I would totally have split loyalties right now, as I played the hell out of Alien Breed back on the day.
posted by Artw at 6:51 AM on July 20, 2010


Ugh. Why must I have so much work to do this week? I need to try this.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:52 AM on July 20, 2010


So it's like a modern co-op ghosts n goblins?

I haven't played Alien Storm, but what you're describing is Gauntlet.
posted by The Bellman at 7:07 AM on July 20, 2010


I'm way out of the loop when it comes to alien-shooting arcade-style games, but my first thought was of Alien Syndrome. I never played any of the computer/console ports, but I have very fond memories of playing it at the local pizza place as a kid.
posted by mikeh at 7:32 AM on July 20, 2010


I'm new to steam, all I see is that looks right is the Rotatocraft ([Mefi]) group. Is that it?
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:34 AM on July 20, 2010


Notably, I think it comes with the source sdk, so any of the free games that require it here are also available to you.

Nope, I don't have HL2, and the "requires source sdk" games I tried (Age of Chivalry, Zombie Panic) wouldn't install saying that I need the base game.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:42 AM on July 20, 2010


MeFi Alien Swarm group
posted by D_I at 7:43 AM on July 20, 2010


no, that's our starcraft group.
posted by cmyr at 7:54 AM on July 20, 2010


I think it's a very odd choice that there's no respawn. It makes the game really hard, and breaks all the usual rules about co-op games with strangers. OTOH it also makes it sort of fun and intense.
posted by Nelson at 8:12 AM on July 20, 2010


Game owns.
posted by boo_radley at 8:42 AM on July 20, 2010


bomb-throwers on platforms at differing elevation so that you can't shoot them

It's worth noting that difference in elevation--particularly when the enemy is below you--does NOT prevent you from shooting the enemy. Just aim at them and your character will automatically adjust his or her aim.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:55 AM on July 20, 2010


I just wanted to warn newcomers to Steam that ODiV is not joking or exaggerating. Every six months or so, Steam has a super-ridiculous sale where every day for two weeks they offer you tantalizing deals available today only . Mass Effect only $4.99! Supreme Commander 2 only $7.49! Deus Ex only $0.99! Then the next day it's Grand Theft Auto IV just $7.49! Bioshock just $4.99! The Eidos Pack! Almost every PC game Eidos has released in the past ten years, only $99.99!

Unless you're made of stone, at the end of the fortnight, you've spent much more money than you intended and you own more games than you can possibly get through before the next insane sale comes around.

Oh, and next week? Here's something totally awesome and absolutely free.

Having Steam on your desktop almost guarantees that you're gaming problem will never be "I don't have enough games to play" but "I don't have enough time to play all the games I own."

It's marketing evil genius, and most of their customers love them for it.
posted by straight at 9:22 AM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nope, I don't have HL2, and the "requires source sdk" games I tried (Age of Chivalry, Zombie Panic) wouldn't install saying that I need the base game.

That's odd. This page states "Includes Source SDK" on the "Game Details" sidebar on the right. My bad.
posted by juv3nal at 10:19 AM on July 20, 2010


Yeah. I think that it's keeping track of the fact that I never paid for a source game.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:22 AM on July 20, 2010


Almost every PC game Eidos has released in the past ten years, only $99.99!

Yeah the THQ pack is not on sale any more (it was half off during their "perils of summer sale"), but it's still a pretty ridiculous deal if you haven't already played most of that stuff.
posted by juv3nal at 10:27 AM on July 20, 2010


It amazes me that Quake is ALWAYS $9.99.

(I will probably buy it some day regardless)
posted by Artw at 10:30 AM on July 20, 2010


Tip I read in the RPS Verdict thread:
Dominic White says:
July 20, 2010 at 5:53 pm

The console command ‘asw_horde 1′ turns on the director. It’s disabled by default, because it can really screw things up for the players sometimes.

(that's Director as in the omniscient AI from L4D that decides you've been doing too well and chucks a flood of zombies or a Tank at you without warning.)
posted by Electric Dragon at 10:33 AM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I played some last night and just died, so I messed around offline and I think I got it now. Cant wait to get home tonight and play with y'all!
posted by rosswald at 10:37 AM on July 20, 2010


Yesterday I finished the campaign on hard with some goons and it was the most fun I've had playing a multiplayer game since Quake I.
posted by Memo at 10:53 AM on July 20, 2010


Well, it's probably not that brutal

I think the face there's an achievement for getting through a level with no losses is not unreasonable. I didn't have time for multiplayer last night, but a few run-throughs in practise mode were tough; the friendly Marine AI ain't that dumb, either.

I do loves me the sentry gun. Properly placed it does a nice job of making "unpassable" areas a stroll in the park.
posted by rodgerd at 11:53 AM on July 20, 2010


Alien Swarm is now the "game with most current players" in steam, surpassing Modern Warfare 2. It's currently the third most heavily played game, behind MW2 and Counterstrike: Source.
posted by boo_radley at 1:19 PM on July 20, 2010


Last night I got accidentally set on fire by a teammate and was then "cured" by a medic who pressed the wrong button and shot me in the face.

"Well at least I'm not on fire anymore. Now that I'm dead."
"No, you're still on fire."


Getting the achievement for getting through a level without shooting a teammate is going to be hard.
posted by Mr Bismarck at 2:09 PM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bismarck, you can try playing with the tesla gun. I'm not 100% sure, but I believe it's got a slowing effect, instantly one-shot-kills any of the smaller bugs on hard or easier difficulty levels, and best of all - no friendly fire for that gun.

Or you might have seen the discussion on Mefightclub.com.
posted by WalterMitty at 1:59 AM on July 21, 2010


After another few hours of play, my initial strong impression has become more muted, because there's just not a lot of stuff to explore. There's only one campaign with five levels, with six or seven enemy types, and that's it. It's lovely and up to professional standards, but as-is, it feels more like a teaser demo to get you to buy the full game.

Obviously, they're hoping for modders and mapmakers to enhance and extend the game, and have provided a great number of tools to do so, but at this point I'd say this is not, in fact, a Truly Great Game, but rather a proof of concept for one. Whether or not it will develop in a satisfying way is hard to tell.

Still totally worth the $0 pricetag, but if you have to pay for bandwidth, it may not have enough legs to be worth it.
posted by Malor at 4:11 AM on July 21, 2010


(Er, note that you won't actually see anything at Mitty's link unless you have a Mefight Club account and are logged in and stuff. We're a shy and secretive lot UNTIL THE REVOLUTION COMES.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:05 AM on July 21, 2010


Still totally worth the $0 pricetag, but if you have to pay for bandwidth, it may not have enough legs to be worth it.

Unless you're downloading the game over a 3G link or something I suspect the 2G download is well below the net value of the game to most players!

Without more levels it's going to be played out pretty quickly, but it's a great game nonetheless & there's a fighting chance of a modding community creating enough content for the game to sustain enough players going forward.
posted by pharm at 6:03 AM on July 21, 2010


Hints of Ep. 3?
posted by Artw at 11:20 PM on July 21, 2010


you won't actually see anything at Mitty's link

Oh. Right. Oops. *headdesk*
posted by WalterMitty at 8:44 AM on July 22, 2010


console commands to play in first person mode
posted by juv3nal at 4:21 PM on July 22, 2010


The first person perspective would be nice in a few places where 3rd blocks your view of the action. On insane in the cargo elevator around that first tough bend, or on residential at the end where long-range enemies have a clear line of sight but the 3rd person board doesn't cover them.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:18 AM on July 23, 2010


Aperture Science, Now In Your Bedroom
posted by homunculus at 8:31 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Freeman's Mind: Episode 29
posted by homunculus at 1:50 PM on August 16, 2010


Portal 2 Out In February
posted by homunculus at 5:05 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


homunculus: Portal 2 Out In February

2012.
posted by paisley henosis at 5:08 PM on August 18, 2010


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