'SWAT 4: Special Weapons and Tactics'
(Windows / ASIN: B00005WF9V / Rated: M / $49.99)
Features: This is a 24 person multiplayer mode with futuristic action adventure game. Reclaim the streets of Los Angeles as an elite SWAT officer using many new configurable weapons. Also features more than 150 characters.
Description: Within the city, crisis and turmoil are an everyday, every second occurrence. When ordinary means of law enforcement are not an option, there is a group that is called upon to dole out justice to those that believe they are above the law. This highly-regarded and specially trained unit is SWAT. In 'SWAT 4,' you are the element leader of an authentic Special Weapons and Tactics team within the big city where danger looms large.
Verdict: OK, I'll start on a positive note. The 4th instalment of 'SWAT' uses the Unreal Tournament 2004 engine, which provides fantastic graphical and audio effects. The textures and scripted animations (for example, cockroaches) are excellent. Now the negative: the game itself is lacklustre and offers nothing new over 'SWAT 3.' In fact, 'SWAT 3' was better in some AI respects, etc. That said, the gameplay is exactly the same as 'SWAT 3,' except that the enemy AI has been brightened up a bit. The bad guys will run away if shot at, and take cover in dark corners to spring ambushes. Good, you think, except that the SWAT officer AI is dense. Very dense. This is due to the "fire only when about to be fired upon" logic which spoils the game. Every time the AI sees a suspect with a weapon they will shout "drop the weapon" - so far so good- but if the suspect declines to drop the weapon, the officers will not incapacitate the suspect and ensure he drops the weapon, instead they will repeat themselves forever, until either the suspect turns around with the weapon in hand and takes one of the officers out (it happens a lot - the bad guys turn really fast) or the officers kill him. Bearing in mind the officers don't seem to turn that fast, you can lose all your officers with this very random event, no matter how careful you are. If you try to take the bad guy out before he gets the drop on your fellow officers, and you haven't issued a "drop your weapon" statement, you will have points deducated from your mission score. This is very frustrating. The danger is compounded further by limits of AI communication. You cannot tell your officers that there is a bad guy round the corner, if you use your "opti-wand". So when you say to the team "clear the room" they will go in oblivious to the threat. They may bump into each other as well, with the end result that all of them are shot dead by a loony with a shotgun. In these cases you normally try and take the bad guy out yourself, but he spins round too fast ... and you're dead. You can't save during missions, so you have to restart from scratch! You cannot tell your officers to look in a certain direction. They can move to certain points in a room, though. Guarding certain doors can be hairy sometimes, as a result. Ha, and if you run out of ammo (easy to do on automatic firing mode) you can't take any from your downed colleagues???!! I just felt like I was playing a game of rock-scissors-stone in 'SWAT 4.' I never felt that my actions would affect the outcome of a mission, it was down to luck what direction the terrorists were facing in a room, and whether they'd shoot my men first or they'd be shot. The first few missions are enjoyable but then everything gets difficult and you will probably end up working vigilante when the AI team are dead. Considering that some baddies need multiple shots to die (body armour?) and you can't pick ammo up on the way, you might end up out of ammo and can't complete the mission anyway. Don't get me started on the snipers ... they are useless! If you're a lucky sort of person you might enjoy this game. If not, well, hmmmm, you figure it out!
Reviewed by Mark Tunstall
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