The SAD Project – Day 3 – Goddamnit, Sarge

I have been in the mood to revisit sci-fi alien shooters.

I have two main games for this top-down shoot-all-the-aliens genre:

Alien Breed 1-3, of which I can never seem to get beyond the first game, not because it’s bad, but because it’s slower-paced and more story-oriented with seemingly a lot of ground to cover, so I never finish it before getting distracted by another game.

And Alien Swarm, which came out as a free game on Steam some time in 2010.  I -loved- that game in its heyday. It stressed an amazing amount of thinking person’s teamwork and strategy, between the different classes (officer, tech, heavy weapons guy, medic) and the friendly fire (please don’t) and the need to wait in locales for some machine to trigger (hoorah sentry guns) mixed with the need to be on the move or run out of ammo and be swarmed to death.

It was also pretty durned hard on its higher difficulties. I will never forget the spectacular Insane difficulty achievement run, which I somehow managed to PUG, with two Ukrainian guys who also really really wanted it, and a string of randoms as the last filler. We played the campaign mission multiple times over, at least a dozen, ever so increasingly refining our strategy more and more efficiently until final success. The three of us became a really well oiled team before the night was done.

It also took pretty much all the desire for teamwork out of me at that point, having hit the limit of what could be achieved (imo) in PUGs.

When Brutal difficulty came out (one step higher than Insane), I wussed right out – feeling ever so keenly that pang of wishing for three other friends in the same timezone, with the same level of skill in perfect lockstep with each other and desire to play the same games at the same time – and never went back to Alien Swarm.

To my surprise, checking it out today, I find out that a new updated Alien Swarm: Reactive Drop just launched this year in April 2017.

It has the same campaign and classes, with apparently added improvements.

Supposedly it supports up to 8 person multiplayer, though I haven’t tried that yet. (That sounds amazing, if hellishly chaotic with friendly fire *smirk*)

There’s a lot more campaigns than the basic Jacob’s Run that the first game came with.

alienswarm3

And doubly amazingly, it also supports singleplayer with bots, with the ability to both give bots basic instructions, manually fire team-based skills with buttons, and hotswap from character to character to take over, while a bot helps out with the consciousness of the character you just left.

Imagine that. However you want to, or like to play, it gives you the option and the control. With tons of difficulty levels.

Free game.

Why more people aren’t playing it, I dunno.

Of course, the bots could stand a bit of improvement here and there…

alienswarm1

I picked a random new campaign, selected some characters at random, and trundled through the map, mournfully realizing that I’ve forgotten entirely how to play this game and trying my best not to friendly fire the bots (who do not exactly make it easy with their erratic movements.)

We wind up at the climax of the mission. I’d picked up a chainsaw, and was gleefully taking up position on the stairs besides the Officer bot (Sarge), creating a lovely chokepoint with which to slaughter aliens.

Unfortunately, Sarge ran out of ammo, and decided the best thing he could do was wade into the fray and melee the aliens. Right in front of my chainsaw.

Which spinning constantly with my very held down mouse button.

I saw his hp plummet, not exactly sure if it was ME slicing him to bits, or the dozen aliens on him pummeling him back.

Reflexively, I let go, turning the chainsaw off, backing up in confusion, turning it back on, trying to surgeon slice aliens around but not into the absolute chaos…

alienswarm2

It didn’t quite work out.

Goddamnit, Sarge.

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