on 18 April 2005
Having been a huge fan of SWAT 3 Close Quarters Battle, it's been a long wait for SWAT 4 to come along, but it's been worth it, SWAT 4 is fantastic!
IF you've played SWAT 3 in the past, then I can tell you this game retains the true style of the original in every way, and has improved futher in some ways.
IF you never played SWAT 3 then you should know SWAT 4 is a simulation game of an American Police SWAT team, you play the element's team leader, you lead 4 other men in your team who are directly under your control. What makes SWAT 4 so compelling is the realism, I've never known a game that can create so much tension in it's gameplay, the music at times makes you feel like your in a movie and because it's a sim; real life rules apply, you won't find the same enemies in the same spot each time you play, and therefore you can never be sure where they are, enemies can kill you with a single shot to the head, although you wear body armour you can still be shot dead if you take too many bullets to the body, the game makes you play carefully with a real sense of self preservation, and the pace is slow and careful, some missions can take as long as 50 mins, even though the maps are never that big! you and your men are often outnumbered and you have to really look after them, the missions scenarios have been carefully designed to reflect scenarios of real world buildings with testing architectual design, often you will find corridoors full of rooms & stairwells that a terrorist can burst out of or be be hiding in at any moment, this is a test of your team leading abilities, careful positioning and use of your team, and the ability to choose your path, is all part of a sucessful mission, leaving yourself or your team exposed at any point from any angle can be curtains.
Sometimes this game gets compared to Rainbow Six, but it's actually nothing like it, Rainbow six is shoot first and ask questions later and run through the map in a linear path kind of game, with SWAT you take whatever path you see best, and you have to follow Police procedure, you cannot shoot an armed suspect unless he is about to fire upon you, your team or a hostage/civilian, that is part of what makes this game great, if an armed suspect appears, all you can do is yell at him to comply and put down his weapon, if he wants to run away there's not a thing you can do to stop him immediately, suspects therefore have been programmed to be very unpredictable, some will give in instantly and drop their weapons, others will open fire, or some will run away, even hostages can be unpredictable, some will obey orders and drop to their knees hands in the air, others will refuse, again there's nothing you can do with your firearms to make them comply, this is where further skill comes in, you can use pepper spay and squirt it into their eyes, or stun them with a taser gun, or throw a cannister of CS gas near them.
The vocal interaction in this game makes a big part of its realistic atmosphere, firstly; pre mission you can listen to the 911 call to the police, then the police issuing the report to SWAT over the police radio, then a verbal briefing from TOC. in game when you choose your commands from the menu, your characters voice will speak the commands and your team will reply verbally, also there's verbal interaction between yourself and HQ known as 'TOC', you also have a sniper usually scoped in on a set area of the building who will let you know if he sees anything, you can also see what your team are seeing no matter where they are due them having a fixed minicam on them, you have a viewport that you can tap into which appears in the top right of the screen, and even issue commands to them via this and see them follow them through, you can also split your team into two, blue and red and get them to do different things at the same time.
Multiplayer is great, there is co-op mode, Deathmatch, protect the VIP and bomb defusing, there's nothing better than getting together with real life players and working together as a team in the co-op missions.
The graphics look really nice, although you'll find that 512mb might not be enough to run this game at its best, it does take a lot of ram, probably due to their being sometimes as much as 40 characters in a map sometimes including your team mates throwing cs and shooting at terrorists, none of which dissapear when killed or arrested, so it can get a bit sluggish.
I've not noticed any bugs so far, that's pc gaming for you, some get bugs, others don't.
SWAT Gameplay is addictive, first the mission briefing gets your juices flowing, then its the careful stacking up on doors, mirroring under them for suspects, orgainising your team to breach and clear with flash bangs, cs gas or sting grenades, the firefight with terrorists being careful not to hit civilians, picking up and confiscating weapons as evidence, then handcuffing suspects and and terrorists and reporting them verbally to HQ, its a game of slow slow quick quick slow.
SWAT 4 is for mature gamers with patience, and team leadership qualities, the rating is 18+ and includes swearing, plenty of violence and scenes some may find disturbing, if your a patient gamer, perhaps someone who enjoys playing Hitman, then come into the world of SWAT, you will be addicted and love it!