Valve Corporation is no stranger to the limelight when it comes to making hit video games. They are the minds behind video game darlings such as the Half-Life series, Team Fortress, and Portal, all of which have garnered multiple awards and recognitions.
Valve is truly a “for the fans” company. It seems that they always listen to and consider their fans for each title. Then there are times they almost seem to thank them for their support. This is evident in the free game “Alien Swarm,” which was released on Steam as a download. Do not let the words “free game” fool you, however. The signature Valve shine we have come to expect and love from this company is still evident in this title. Here is a small idea of how popular it was: while downloading it the day it was released, I had to wait about an hour because the servers were so busy. But the numbers do not have to speak for themselves.
Alien Swarm is certainly a fun shooter. It uses a class based system, with the playable characters comprising of Officer (leader), Tech, Medic, and Special Weapons. Each has a unique set of attributes, including abilities and weapons. The learning curve is actually a tad high. It takes a few playthroughs to truly internalize the controls, strengths of each character, and how each will affect the scenarios you play through in the levels. There are two modes of play: Offline Practice mode, and Online play.
The story in Alien Swarm is rather benign, and not that important. It is set in the future, and marines are sent to find out what happened on a colonized planet. They find the alien infestation, and the mission becomes an eradication of the creatures, then abandoning the colony. The strength and true value of this game, however, comes in the co-op mode rather than in the single player campaign.
What Parents Need to Know
Alien Swarm is a top down shooter, so it detracts from the visceral feel of a typical first-person shooter as you are somewhat removed from the fray, and control the character from a birds-eye view. The marines are in hazmat like suits, so you never actually see human bodies. Your character will disappear immediately upon dying, and your team will continue. The aliens are bug type creatures, and bear no likeness to humans. Once you shoot them, a large amount of green blood is spilled, but they fall to the ground and disappear after a few moments. A flamethrower allows you to set aliens on fire. Also friendly-fire is an added obstacle, so you must be careful not to harm your team mates.
While I encountered no foul language in the game itself or in Offline Practice, there is quite a bit of language in Online mode. Other players can use headsets for voice chat and use typed messages, and I heard/read quite a bit of foul language during my time in the online arena. While it got rather perverse at times, it is possible to just mute it altogether. You can, however, still read typed messages.
There is no sexual content in Alien Swarm.
There is no spiritual content in the game.
Alien Swarm is a fun game, and I enjoyed my time with it. Valve certainly did not waste an opportunity, and I could tell that a good amount of time and effort went into this title. The mechanics of the game felt good, and I found it to be a very decent shooter. While Alien Swarm is not rated by the ESRB, due to violence and the foul language I encountered in online mode, I would recommend this game for older teen and adults.
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for parents on his website TheSource4Parents.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.