Review by WeeblsPie
An excellent tactical shooter
SWAT 4 is a very fun game. It is a tactical FPS where you play as the leader of a SWAT team in NYC. You lead your team through a variety of situations where you rescue hostages and take down gangs of armed fugitives. Throughout the game you get to use a variety of weapons and devices that help make SWAT 4 one of the best tactical games out there and the best game in the SWAT series.
The graphics in SWAT 4 are pretty good, but nothing spectacular. The player models look pretty nice, but can sometimes look a bit blocky. The weapon models also look very nice and smooth. The environment is excellent in this game. The environments in this game serve the missions well providing you with what you would expect to find inside the buildings you are raiding. The cult apartments are covered in nonsensical graffiti, the hospital is filled with signs of violence that occurred shortly before your arrival, the basement of the deranged killer is filled with clippings about his works. It all goes well and creates a proper feeling for the mission and what you can expect to find ahead. The effects in this game are also nice. The grenade effects are designed well, ranging from clouds of gas, bright flashes that fill the screen, and a shaken and wobbly screen depending on which grenade you might have stumbled into.
The sound in this game is almost perfect. To start, the game contains no real music, only ambient background noise to suit the mood. This is vital to the game as sound serves as your secondary sense in this game. You find yourself hearing many opponents before seeing them as they roam around the map, opening doors and yelling at both hostages and police. The sound effects in this game are great as you get everything that one would expect when they enter a hostage situation. You get the pleading and crying of hostages, the angered yelling of suspects as they yell at hostages and at the officers they are engaging. You also get the radio chatter between yourself and TOC as you roam the map reporting downed or arrested suspects and hostage, not to mention entering a room and ordering a suspect to drop his weapon and get down, something you will do in almost every room you enter in this game. The grenade effects are also done nicely, the hissing of CS gas escaping from a smoke grenade, the ring of a flashbang going off beside you, the sound of scattering rubber balls as a stinger explodes, it's all done perfectly. You may here hostages and suspects say things that make little sense, but that's about it.
The controls in this game are the standard FPS controls, AWSD movement with left click to shoot and the number bar for changing weapons. You do get some interesting keys however. You have the "use key" which is used for both ordering suspects to surrender and opening doors. I would have a different key for each of these, however, because I have found myself attempting to yell to a suspect on the other side of a door with a window, only to accidentally open the door and expose myself to enemy fire. You also make use of the right click in this game to order your team with various commands. You can order them to move to a certain spot, deploy a grenade or other item, clear a room, or restrain a hostage or suspect. This allows you to keep yourself out of harm's way and make use of your team. Something you will find yourself doing in every mission. The spacebar can be used for quick commands as you don't need to jump in this game.
The gameplay is the shining point of SWAT 4. It is done almost perfectly. You objective is to clear out the target area with your team using as little violence as possible. It is a tough game as you cannot go in guns blazing. You have to realize before you play this game that it is very realistic. You will and your teammates will go down in only a few hits like a normal person would, running and gunning will get you nowhere. You also have to know what a SWAT officer's job is. He is used to break a crisis using as little force as possible. You lose points in this game for firing on armed suspects if your life or someone else's is not immediately threatened. You can only fire on a suspect if: he raises his weapon to you, a teammate, a hostage, or if he opens fire. Points count for a lot in this game and you will need to get as high a score as possible. It's important to play it safe in this game, use grenades when entering a room full of suspects, use your charges if the suspect is on the other side of a door and always order them to surrender instead of opening fire.
Even then you may not be safe. Suspects will have different morale, some may surrender quickly, others may run, others may shoot. Be ready, if someone doesn't want to go down don't be afraid to use whatever non-lethal weapons you have. They will go down then. Some suspects will also try to fake you out, they'll start to put down their weapons before jumping up and either shooting or running. This is why your team is important. A teammate will usually notice somebody raising their weapon if you don't see them. The AI is clearly very well done in this game.
The amount of supplies at your disposal in this game is very impressive. You have 3 SMG's, a carbine, a few shotguns, not to mention 2 different pistols, a taser, 3 different grenades, mace, breaching charges and shotguns, a lock picking tool, and my favorite, the Opti-wand, for seeing what's on the other side of a door or around a corner. You will find yourself using all of your supplies in this game as they are vital to success. Why face fire from a suspect when you can smoke him out, or hit him with a flashbang?
The game can be very unforgiving however, you can lose points easily if the game judges that you weren't in danger. Your teammates might be oblivious to danger right behind them or suspects already shooting them and may make mistakes such as not tossing a grenade far enough into a room, or running off after a suspect. You also need to make sure they are always at your back as they will follow your orders to a T. If you forget to tell them to follow you after clearing a room they will stay there. Missions can be lost on simple mistakes that you can end up making over and over. It's important to remain calm and methodical in this game, or you have no chance.
Overall, SWAT 4 is an excellent game. It has some minor flaws, but it is a well developed and nicely polished game. It is by no means an easy game but it can suck you in very quickly. It may be an acquired taste as some may not like it's use of proper SWAT technique and policy, but it is definitely worth a try.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: SWAT 4 (US, 04/05/05)
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