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But opting out of some of these cookies may have an effect on your browsing experience. Necesarias Necesarias. Last month we were offered a hands-on session with the single-player game, with all the pepper balling, flashbanging and optiwanding that entailed.
Our lunchtimes have never been the same since. Is the sun still yellow? Will spent about three whole minutes convulsing on the floor following that one. Although on the plus side, his quivering body served as a half-decent human shield to hide behind.
Truly, most FPS merchants have missed a trick with their interminable sorties into alien deathmatch landscapes, evil terrorist lairs or WWII battlegrounds. For sheer entertainment value, nothing can top three of your mates storming into some Kwik-E-Mart style convenience store and shouting at petrified old women to hit the dirt lest you put the business end of your pump-action shotgun up their backside.
SWAT 4 does a bang-up of job of recreating the tension involved in storming a jewellery store filled with masked banditos. All of which highlights the importance of good communication. Integral to a good co-op game of SWAT 4 is being able to tell your buddies exactly what sort of height they should jump to when you tell them.
The context-sensitive command menu from the single-player game is present and correct, but the need for a more coherent chain of command is still an issue that needs to be worked on prior to release. The rest of the multiplayer smorgasbord consists of competitive team action in the shape of VIP escorting, rapid deployment bomb defusals and standard cops vs robbers deathmatch-style shootouts.
Even here though, SWAT 4 is a little different, with more points being offered to players who arrest their opponents than those who dispense justice through the medium of flying pellets of death. Ho ho. The Rapid Deployment mode is a simple variation on the point capture gameplay variant seen in many a teambased online shooter.
SWAT have to find and defuse the buggers, Suspects the bad-guy teams have to keep them ticking away, strangely giving you the chance to experience life through the eyes of a suicide bomber. SWAT 4 code is this close to being finished. The Al also needs a bit of a polish. Take the panicky citizen at the start, for instance. Was his refusal to stand still and be taken to safety until fried with voltage an accurate simulation of terror or just a fault? Ha ha!
Do you see? The same device is present in multiplayer, minus the control options, in theory meaning you can coordinate your entry actions with your buddies on the other side of the room, but in reality simply providing an oddly existential method of seeing yourself being tazered in the backside by your so-called best friend. Which is nice. I was on a primary school assignment to raise awareness of the police force in my area. We had to find a local bobby, as we called them, and get them to answer the questions on our worksheet.
My first question was. They gave their answer, "late turn and to my eternal horror I marked it down as lake turn, thinking it was some sort of area-based reply. Naturally, the officer checked over my answers at the end of the inquisition and tut-tutted as he corrected my horrible, horrible faux pas.
I left shame-faced and vowing never, ever to stray from the path of justice and righteousness again. So naturally, any computer game simulation in which I get to make amends for my early life of criminality, however virtually, is to be embraced to my bosom. SWAT 4 not only lets me arrest criminals, but gives me the option of squirting condiments into their face beforehand. Let joy be unconfined! Regular readers will of course need no introduction, having been treated to not one but two of my previous essays on the subject over the past two issues.
Criminals do something bad. Special armed response police turn up. They do a bit of sneaking about, looking behind doors and that. Then they take a deep breath and The idea is to follow proper SWAT procedures to the letter. Where it gets good from my perspective at least is with the ability to issue tactical commands on-the-fly.
Stack up on that door. Toss a flashbang in and clear the room. Arrest that man. Take a position on that side of the corridor. Red team cover me, Blue team assault. That sort of thing. Right-click the mouse to bring it up, make your choice and watch as your well-drilled team of Al police bots carries out your every lawdispensing desire.
What really makes the game open up is the amount of freedom you have to work your way through each of the levels and deal with the perps therein. On to the Al, which is essentially the crux of the whole game and so warrants mention early on. So good sometimes that you barely have to do anything other than issue an order and let them get on with it. Perhaps not STALKER convincing, but certainly good enough to react to your team of shouting policemen by either bottling it and surrendering, running away very fast in a mad panic or taking cover in an intelligent place and opening fire.
What also helps the game is that each time you play, SWAT 4 sneakily randomises the level elements, so that bad guys, hostages, civilians and so on are never quite in the same place each time. What this means of course is that you can never simply learn a level by trial and error, but actually have to rely on your wits to make progress.
This is not only desirable in and of itself, but gives the single-player game a good degree of replayability. Which brings us neatly, I suppose, to the multiplayer game.
Especially playing on the Internet where attention spans are so small you need atomic microscopes just to measure their ballpark figures and it only takes one whiny little Herbert to decide to take the law into his own hands and storm off all guns blazing. Of course, if you do find yourself in a well-structured team willing to play sensibly, then co-op SWAT 4 is one of the all-time highs in multiplayer gaming. The sense of achievement that comes from conducting a well-oiled multi-team room takedown is second to none, although the game is crying out for some kind of integrated voice comms to properly coordinate things.
Away from co-op. The aforementioned VIP game has enough novelty to make it interesting. Rather than a simple challenge to get from point A to point B, the Suspects SWAT-speak for bad guys have to capture and hold the VIP player for a full two minutes before being allowed to kill him. In the right hands as is so often the case with Internet gaming it can make for some pretty cool gunfights.
Suspects charge about setting up impromptu defensive barriers around the capture point, SWAT members try to storm in from any and every direction, gas grenades and flashbangs fill the air and in the middle of it all the VIP player mills around making life difficult for everyone. Will it replace Counter-Strike: Source as the online team game of choice?
Multiplayer gaming appears to be growing up at last, stretching its toes a little and seeing what it can do. Hooray for that. Beyond multiplayer, longevity can also be found in the SWAT4 mission editors. First is the ingame editor, which is little more than a tool for altering the parameters of the single-player campaign missions.
Although hideously complex to look at -and even scarier to actually try and use - the inclusion of the tool for those with a masters degree in working out the blisteringly unfathomable goes to show that Irrational is foursquare behind supporting the modding community. One other thing that you may remember from the SWAT 3 special editions was that the multiplayer side of the game was only added later on due to overwhelming pressure from fans.
Aside from creating maps, one thing the small but loyal SWAT community might want to campaign for this time round is an enhancement in the physics engine being used. Told you those jokes were limited is the rather static nature of the game world. In this modern age of Half-Life 2 and Havok physics and all that, SWAT 4 can feel rather old-school - no doubt a hangover from the protracted development period. Mind you, Irrational has certainly done its best to make the most of things, and the mission design generally achieves an impressive sense of atmosphere and tension.
This is especially true as you creep past ghostly face masks, with a whimpering girl lying on a rancid mattress in front of a video camera and walls full of newspaper clippings about kidnapped children. Even your Al mates can be heard muttering things like Sick and Man, this is disgusting as you proceed through the level. Try another fly swatter joke - Ed. No time. Instead I should probably just sum things up by saying that Irrational has done an absolutely bang-up job in saving the SWAT series from what was looking like certain death its prior Urban Justice incarnation.
All it needs now is a more advanced engine to power a sequel, a more involving sense of training and life in a pair of SWAT shoes. That, and a willingness to continue dealing with the dark underbelly of real world criminality without pulling any punches.
One area of SWAT 4 that Irrational could really have gone to town on is the training aspect of the game. The in-game training, however, is bog-standard stuff - no more than an interactive version of the manual. You learn how to move. How to look up with the mouse. How to open a door. Or when you should use a gas grenade over a flashbang. Or anything useful that a SWAT officer might actually want to know. What Irrational should have done is properly simulate the life of a SWAT team - mixing ongoing training sessions that fl teach you new techniques with actual emergency call-outs.
Creating some sense of cohesion rather than just giving you a series of unconnected missions with little sense of progression. To say that we were underwhelmed would be putting it mildly. The game was, quite frankly, a disgrace, with appalling Al.
But fear not - much has changed since then. In fact, everything has changed since then. The SWAT 4 that now stares back at you from these pages with come-and-get-me eyes is a totally different game, developed by a totally different team the one responsible for the excellent Tribes: Vengeance.
It also features a totally different engine. The Unreal engine and the Havok physics library to be precise. SWAT 4 brings the law enforcement experience to the strategic shooter genre," explains Paul. You see your Al-controlled team-mates breach doors, clear rooms and snap to corners in the same manner as their real-life counterparts. Combat with suspects is very strategic too - you have to seek cover and stay calm under fire.
The game actually predicts what you want to do. Simply press the spacebar to give your team the order and watch them open the door and clear the room. Sounds good so far If you want to do something other than the default command, then just right-click the mouse and a list of available commands pops up, such as breaching or wedging doors, looking around corners with mirrors, securing suspects or clearing rooms using flashbangs or CS gas.
Just click the one you want and watch your team respond. If what Paul says proves to be true, then SWAT 4 might just prove to be the game that blows this often inaccessible genre wide open for the masses to enjoy. The Al can choose to fight, run for cover or give up when you shout at them to comply, boasts Paul. To do this, you can use anything from pepper spray and Tasers to deadly force - or just shoot them in the leg.
And how about your squad-mates, what can you expect to see from them? Of course, all of this so-called innovative Al would be wasted if enemies were always found in the same places, a shortfall that Irrational is very keen to avoid. SWAT 4 is also promising some truly original ideas.
The first of these is the Helmet Camera Window, which enables you to split your team up and see what the other group is doing in a mini-window. Snipers are placed in strategic locations outside of your objective, explains Paul. At that point, you take control of the sniper through a window on your HUD sniper through a window on your HUD and take the shot.
If it manages to deliver on its potential, SWAT 4 could be the game that propels the tactical shooter genre into the mainstream, while still managing to retain all of the hardcore strategic elements that made the SWAT series so great in the first place. Look out for our exclusive hands-on next month. What tactical shooter would be complete without a terrifying collection of weaponry?
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