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Alien Swarm

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Alien Swarm
Composer(s)Mike Morasky
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
ReleaseJuly 19, 2010[1]
Genre(s)Top-down shooter
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Alien Swarm is a multiplayer top-down shooter video game developed by Valve. It is a remake of a mod for Unreal Tournament 2004, and it was developed by the original team, who were hired by Valve during the course of the development process.[1][2]


Alien Swarm is a top-down shooter, where four players can join a single co-operative game, the aim of which is to progress through science fiction-themed levels while eliminating waves of aliens.[3] Players can choose from 40 different pieces of equipment, ranging from weapons like assault rifles to grenade launchers and offhand items like mines and healing beacons. The game includes persistent statistics, unlockable equipment, and achievements.[4]

The game is class-based, with players choosing from the roles of Officer, Special Weapons, Medic, and Tech. Each class has two selectable characters, differentiated by their abilities.[5]

Before the mission, players can change their character's loadouts and offhand items. After each mission, experience points are gained. While leveling up, the players will unlock new weapons and items to use.[6] The mission involves the team advancing in the same general direction, often with multiple objectives to accomplish.[7] As they advance through the level, they will find certain key points blocking the progress, which are cleared through a variety of methods, from welding to shooting to hacking.[8] Meanwhile, many aliens (known as Swarm) will attack the players from all sides. Swarm can spawn unpredictably, and will often attack the players with mobs of enemies, as described by their name. There are many different types of Swarm, with different behaviors and attack patterns. Players can fight Swarm using many tools, including weapons, explosives, or using environmental hazards (e.g. explosive barrels).


In the game's only official campaign, Jacob's Rest, a swarm of invasive aliens have taken over a colonized planet in December 2052. Marines deployed by the Bloodhound dropship arrive to search for survivors and, if need be, to destroy the colony to prevent the aliens from spreading. The task force kills a large number of not only "normal" Swarm aliens, but alien eggs, large tumor-like growths, parasites and other creatures. They soon find out that the colonists have all been killed by the alien infestation. The marines then guide a thermonuclear bomb (originally meant for excavation purposes) through the complex and activate its timer. They return to the drop ship before the bomb detonates.[citation needed]


Alien Swarm was originally a mod for Unreal Tournament 2004.[9] The mod was Mod of the Year for GameSpy in 2004,[10] and was a runner-up for Computer Games Magazine's 2004 "Best Mod" award, losing to Red Orchestra: Combined Arms.[11]

A Source engine sequel to the original Unreal Tournament 2004 mod was announced in 2005, under the title of Alien Swarm: Infested.[12] However, by late 2007, the development blog had stopped updating, leaving its status uncertain.

In July 2010 with the announcement of Alien Swarm, it was revealed that Valve had hired the team behind Alien Swarm, who had finished the mod between working on other Valve products such as Left 4 Dead and Portal 2.[13]

An Alien Swarm software development kit (SDK) including buildable source code was released alongside the game.[14][15] It is free to all users of Steam, rather than only to owners of existing Source games (as is the case with the 'mainline' Source SDK). This allows total conversion mods, which do not rely on content from other Valve games, to be free to all as well - a significant business decision that echoes the strategy of the Unreal Development Kit. The SDK and software license allows arbitrary usage and sharing but only for non-commercial purposes.[16]


Alien Swarm received "generally favorable reviews" according to the review aggregation website Metacritic.[17]

In 2023, Rock Paper Shotgun placed it among the list of the best free PC games.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Meer, Alec (July 19, 2010). "Valve to release free shooter and source code". GamesIndustry. Retrieved May 16, 2024.
  2. ^ Walker, John (July 16, 2010). "Valve Announces New Game: Alien Swarm". Rock Paper Shotgun. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on July 22, 2010. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  3. ^ "Good Game Stories-Alien Swarm". Good Game (TV program). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. August 9, 2010. Archived from the original on December 18, 2017. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  4. ^ "Alien Swarm". Steam. Valve. Archived from the original on August 8, 2010. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  5. ^ Jovanović, Bojan (September 2010). "Alien Swarm". Svet kompjutera (in Serbian). Politika a.d. Archived from the original on March 8, 2015. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Sterling, James Stephanie (July 26, 2010). "Review: Alien Swarm". Destructoid. Gamurs. Archived from the original on April 14, 2014. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  7. ^ Laney, Sam (August 24, 2010). "'Alien Swarm' thrills for free". Stars and Stripes. Archived from the original on August 15, 2019. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  8. ^ Norris, Jim (March 21, 2012). "Free Alien Swarm Game Is So Much Fun, It's Almost Unreal (Tournament)". PC World. IDG Communcations. Archived from the original on July 10, 2015. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  9. ^ Fahey, Mike (July 16, 2010). "Valve Unleashes An Alien Swarm On Steam". Kotaku. G/O Media. Archived from the original on April 7, 2018. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  10. ^ "2004 Game of the Year (PC Special Awards)". GameSpy. IGN Entertainment. Archived from the original on October 14, 2006.
  11. ^ CGM staff (March 2005). "The Best of 2004: The 14th Annual Computer Games Awards". Computer Games Magazine. No. 172. theGlobe.com. pp. 48–56.
  12. ^ Butts, Steve (April 29, 2005). "Alien Swarm: Infested". IGN. Ziff Davis. Archived from the original on April 7, 2018. Retrieved April 7, 2018.
  13. ^ Remo, Chris (July 16, 2010). "Valve To Freely Release Source-Powered Alien Swarm, Entire Codebase". Game Developer. Informa. Archived from the original on July 19, 2010. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  14. ^ "Alien Swarm Game & Source SDK Release Coming Monday". Steam. Valve Corporation. July 16, 2010. Archived from the original on July 19, 2010. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  15. ^ Gameranx staff (July 16, 2010). "Alien Swarm with complete code base releasing FREE on Steam". Gameranx. Complex Networks. Archived from the original on March 8, 2017.
  16. ^ "AlienSwarm". GitHub. Archived from the original on June 13, 2018. readme: You may, free of charge, download and use the SDK to develop a modified Valve game running on the Source engine. You may distribute your modified Valve game in source and object code form, but only for free.
  17. ^ a b "Alien Swarm for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Fandom. Archived from the original on August 18, 2010. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
  18. ^ Wolinsky, David; Heisler, Steve; Agnello, Anthony John; Nelson, Samantha; Williams, Christian; St. James, Emily; Robinson, Tasha; Teti, John (August 9, 2010). "August 9, 2010". The A.V. Club. G/O Media. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  19. ^ Hodge, Ryan (July 23, 2010). "Alien Swarm review". GamesRadar+. Future plc. Archived from the original on June 13, 2018. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  20. ^ Gracia, Sergio (July 27, 2010). "Review del genial Alien Swarm". HobbyConsolas (in Spanish). Axel Springer SE. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  21. ^ Alex (August 4, 2010). "Test: Alien Swarm". Jeuxvideo.com (in French). Webedia. Archived from the original on October 13, 2016. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  22. ^ Schlütter, Christian (August 27, 2010). "Alien Swarm im Test: Eingängig, entzückend und kostenlos - Der Gratis-Shooter von Valve". PC Games (in German). Computec. Archived from the original on August 29, 2010. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  23. ^ "Review: Alien Swarm". PC PowerPlay. No. 181. Next Media Pty Ltd. October 2010. p. 65.
  24. ^ Hargreaves, Roger (July 26, 2010). "Games review: Alien Swarm is cheaper than chips". Metro. DMG Media. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  25. ^ Watts, Rachel (January 30, 2023). "The best free PC games". Rock Paper Shotgun. Gamer Network. Retrieved January 31, 2023.

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