Genre : Action
Release Date : October 28, 2003
SWAT. When it’s time to get serious, they’re the only ones qualified. Striking quick, hard, and without warning, these black cloaked terrors are a criminal’s worst nightmare. Trained in the most advanced forms of lethal force and hostage rescue, and equipped with the latest weaponry, a SWAT team is ready for anything. Preferring brute force over stealth, a team of these specially trained operatives can punch through any enemy stronghold before the criminals have a chance to react. Though the range of their assignments is endless, one thing is certain. When all hope has failed, SWAT will save the day.
With a name like “SWAT”, Sierra has taken on a big responsibility. The idea of creating a game modeled around a SWAT unit is definitely not a new one, so developers knew they needed something unique, able to catch the attention of fans and give new excitement to gamers everywhere. Most definitely some of the important issues facing the developers during the game’s creation were centered around the question of gameplay. SWAT is well known for its bold tactics, but in order for such a game to be successful, there would need to be variety in the styles of gameplay. Only with a balance of stealth, aggressive combat, and critical thinking would the game ultimately be a success. So has Sierra managed to create a game worthy to bear the name of SWAT? Well…not exactly. What Sierra has churned out is merely another mediocre first person shooter with four letters tacked onto the front. Though perhaps an entertaining game for some, SWAT just does not contain a wide variety of gameplay, which in the end, cuts this game short.
There are many qualities which lower this game’s image, but many characteristics which also make this game stand out. However, when they are all mixed together the final product is somewhat disappointing. In the game’s story, you are Mathias Kincaid, a former member of the US Army’s elite Delta Force and now commander of a special SWAT group known as TAC-3. This group is composed of three field agents, the best of the best, representing their specialties. Your team is made up of a sharp-shooting sniper named Kana Lee, and a technical expert named Anthony Jackson. Together, you have been appointed to fight a new threat which holds the safety of the world in jeopardy. Recently, gang warfare has broken out between two rival gangs, the “Omega Cartel” and the “Dragon Clan”. In the middle of the feud is a deadly new designer drug, LD-50, nicknamed SPIKE, which threatens to tear the civilized world apart. Acting as leading officer, you and your team will traverse through many different missions, from responding to various gang situations to storming enemy strongholds as you attempt to stop the production of this deadly drug and crack down on the cartels.
SWAT is an interesting game. Unfortunately, it’s just not interesting enough. My first complaint was that while the game seems to have a decently thought out storyline on paper, the developers just did not manage to capture the drama and excitement they were looking for when they created the game. Initially, the game seems to be pretty entertaining. Beginning with a bank robbery, you are immediately thrown into the action and begin to learn what being a member of SWAT is all about. One plus is that the controls are very easy to learn, leading to almost no frustration during the game. The game takes a first-person shooter style approach while giving you limited powers over your teammates, such as ordering them to open doors, diffuse bombs, etc. I really liked some of the options which were available, such as the different ways of entering a room. Upon encountering a closed door, you can order your team to kick it down, blow it down, or slowly open it while peering inside. Or of course you can always open it the traditional way, with the doorknob.
With many different options, the game made an attempt of giving you full control over how you enter any situation. I also liked how you were able to restrain suspects and civilians by handcuffing them. This was certainly a unique feature that seemed to bring the name SWAT to life. And in addition to all of these options, another that I liked as well was the ability to shout “SWAT, Hands in the air!”, intimidating surprised criminals and forcing them to surrender. Overall I think some fine details were added to try to create a unique game, set-aside from other fps’s.
That said however, there was a problem. While the development team made sure they included some specific details, they seemed to be missing what they were really doing to the game. Focusing on details, they failed to see the game as a whole. And what they failed to see was that this game gets old fast. The game is very repetitive, not something that will please most gamers. While it is an entertaining squad-based fps, I constantly had the feeling of going into the same situation over and over again. Not only are many of the missions the same, (clear out the terrorists, rescue the hostages etc.) there just did not seem to be any variety. Even in the parts where stealth is recommended by your adviser, you will quickly see that stealth is not only not required, but also not possible.
Your various weapons include an assault rife, a machine gun, and a shotgun, not exactly the quietest weapons out there. And even though there is the risk of an alarm being sounded, sooner or later the enemy will be alerted and you will realize that each mission in this game involves one thing-shooting people. While an attempt is made to squeeze some stealth or puzzles into random parts in the game, they are just not strong enough to take away from the fact that this is a typical fps, and nothing more. Playing this game for long periods of time becomes hard once you realize you are doing the same thing over and over again. And this is why SWAT just does not have much replayability. If you manage to stick with this game until the end, you will probably not be inclined to try the harder difficulty levels, as the only thing that changes is the difficulty while you are still stuck with the same problems. Don’t get me wrong, SWAT does have many details which set it apart from many other games and does provide for a fairly entertaining experience. However, this game just lacks the substance to compete with other titles of the same nature.
The game also includes an interesting system of medals, points, and upgrades. At the end of each mission you may be awarded several different medals or awards for achievements such as completing a mission without using a continue or taking ten enemies down using a melee attack. In addition, after a mission you may be awarded with “points” which can be used to upgrade your weapons for future missions. The upgrades include more round capacity, better bullets, less recoil, and better aiming. In addition to your primary weapons (assault rifle, machine gun, and shotgun) you also have many other items available to you. These include night-vision goggles, a gas mask, light sticks and binoculars. And for those especially tricky situations you can carry one of four types of grenades, gas, emp, concussion, or flash-bang. And if you’re not in a lethal mood you can always go with the tranquilizer gun, a single-shot, semi-automatic weapon which will make targets think twice before messing with you.
I also liked the different locales the game was set in. They range all over the world from LA to London and many other interesting places. I was somewhat disappointed with the large amount of enclosed warehouse/factory based missions. It seemed that many of the missions were set in dark factories which just hurt the overall feel of the game. Basically what I wish this game had was more variety not only in the gameplay and missions, but more variety in general. I think that would have really helped and maybe even have pushed this game into a higher level of quality. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Graphically speaking, this game was pretty good. I think the graphics really did save this game and helped it to be slightly more than just another fps. I thought the people were constructed very well, your team mates look extremely real as does the enemy. There is the fact that enemy units are repeated (some people look the same) but this can only be expected from a game such as this, so it does not really take away from the overall product. The textures of things are also well done. I thought weather affects as well as buildings, walls, ceilings, etc. were well done and deserve to be noticed since a lot of time and effort were clearly put into them. Also, the animation in the game as well as in the cut-scenes was very nice. I really did not notice any problems with anything graphically in this game. The guns, firing animations, etc. were also well done and I could find no reason to complain.
The sound was another story. While the voices were usually clear and easy to hear (sometimes they were not though) the sound just seemed very corny and unbelievable. Especially in parts that were supposed to be emotional. I thought a poor job was done with the voices in this game and that they should have been re-recorded before the game was released. While usually a problem like this won’t affect the game too much, in this situation it really did. It made it hard to get into the storyline or any of the events that were happening since the voices just sounded like they were faked. The other sounds in the game however, were fairly good. Overall, I think the sound was done poorly and greatly affected the outcome of the game.
In the end, SWAT is just another mediocre fps trying to be something unique. This game still does have a certain level of enjoyment however, and I would recommend that all of those who are interested rent it. Overall this game just does not have much replayability. But if you just need something to keep you busy for a while, SWAT may be just the game to do it. However, just don’t be looking for a game with hours of playability. You may be disappointed. But if you’ve always wanted to feel the thrill of being “one of the team”, then give SWAT a chance.
Score : 6.9/10
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