Police Quest: SWAT

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Police Quest: SWAT
Daryl F. Gates' Police Quest - SWAT Coverart.png
Developer(s)Sierra On-Line
Publisher(s)Sierra On-Line
Director(s)Tammy Dargan
Producer(s)Tammy Dargan
Phy Williams
Designer(s)Tammy Dargan
Programmer(s)Randy MacNeill
Sean Mooney
Artist(s)Terry Robinson
Writer(s)Tammy Dargan
Composer(s)Dan Kehler
SeriesPolice Quest
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows, Mac OS
  • NA: September 30, 1995
Genre(s)Strategy, Adventure, Simulation

Police Quest: SWAT is the fifth game in the Police Quest series. It is a strategy video game released in 1995, and re-released in 2016 for Steam. With extensive use of FMV videos for its basic gameplay, the game required four CD-ROMs.


In keeping with the strict realism of the previous series, the majority of the game is spent performing training exercises. In fact, there are only 3 actual missions in the game (a mentally ill grandmother, a barricaded fugitive, and a terrorist attack). The first mission is available after the player completes a single training exercise and then attends a tactical lecture. The second becomes available after completing the first. After successfully playing several variations of the first two, the third becomes available. To increase replay value, the missions play out slightly differently with each playthrough, though only a limited number of variations exist. The role the player takes during the last mission also differs based on the career path they have selected during training, acting either as an element leader, with a greatly expanded list of radio commands to direct their team, or as a sniper, with randomized wind conditions forcing the player to adjust his rifle scope to ensure an accurate shot.

During the training portion of the game, the player can make choices that lead to verbal reprimands. For example, if the player tries to 'skip' the briefings, the commander will scold the player. If the player is told to go to one location but then goes to another, someone there will warn "SWAT Pup" that he needs to be at the other location. If the player pesters other people at the various locations, by trying to talk to them too much or loitering, they may also get annoyed. Only shooting one's fellow officers in the few scenes in which this is possible will result in any form of disciplinary action, however, and this causes an immediate game over.

Verb/noun commands can be issued via the character's LASH radio which allows the player to request assistance from his teammates or, if acting as element leader, give them orders.

In-game items are kept in an inventory that functions like the inventory in other Sierra SCI adventure games of the era, though the only items the player will ever carry are tactical devices, like angled mirrors or gas masks, and firearms, and these are issued to the player automatically at the beginning of each mission.

The game is in first-person whenever in training. It goes into third person whenever interviewing witnesses or talking to fellow officers. Missions are mostly first-person, but the player's character is often shown moving between areas (or being shot) in the third person.

The game is built on the SCI2 (Sierra Creative Interpreter) used in the previous Police Quest game, Open Season, and other adventure games of the era such as Phantasmagoria and Gabriel Knight 2. It utilizes a single cursor interface similar to these and other SCI2 games (see also King's Quest VII). The game utilizes much of the same technology as the previous game: most backgrounds are scanned photographs with green screen actors (with sprites being used in many places), but there is much more use of FMV.


SWAT was re-released under the Police Quest Collection Series adventure compilation (along with the first four games in the series), the "SWAT Career Pack" (with all six Police Quest games), the Police Quest: SWAT Force pack (first two SWAT games), and later the Police Quest: SWAT Generation collection (with SWAT 2 and SWAT 3), and the Police Quest: SWAT 1 & 2 pack from GOG.com.

The game is listed as Police Quest 5 (PQ5) in the file names, folder, and the credits. The number does not appear on the title screen. The full title Police Quest 5: SWAT also appears on the back of second Police Quest Collection it was first included in.[1]



According to Sierra On-Line, combined sales of the Police Quest series—including Police Quest: SWAT—surpassed 1.2 million units by the end of March 1996.[2] Police Quest: SWAT was a commercial success; SWAT 3's Jim Napier later wrote that it "received only marginal reviews, [... but] sold like crazy."[3] Between January 1998 and July 1998 alone, it sold 152,425 copies and earned $1,622,405 in the United States.[4] Its sales that year ultimately totaled 253,128 units, which brought in revenues of $2.73 million and made SWAT the country's 17th best-selling game of the year.[5] The game's overall sales topped 1 million copies by March 2000.[3]

Critical reviews[edit]

Review scores
PC Gamer (US)70%[6]
PC Zone83/100[7]
Next Generation2/5 stars[8]
Computer Game Review62/61/80[9]
PC GamesC[10]

A reviewer for Next Generation criticized that the mission instructions are overly ambiguous, sometimes leading the player to receive a reprimand even after apparently following orders correctly. He praised the large amount of content, educational value, and digitized audio, but scored the game two out of five stars, concluding that "this is a decent attempt at a police simulation, but your lack of control leaves much to be desired."[8]

PC Zone offered the game a "Recommended" rating, and a writer for the magazine called it "gun-toting cop fun".[7]


  1. ^ "Police Quest: Collection Series (1997) DOS box cover art". MobyGames.
  2. ^ Sierra On-Line Form 10-K (Report). Bellevue, Washington. March 31, 1996. pp. 7–9. Archived from the original on April 16, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Jim Napier (March 6, 2000). "Postmortem: Sierra's SWAT3 Close Quarters Battle". Gamasutra. p. 1. Retrieved March 3, 2008.
  4. ^ Staff (November 1998). "Letters; Mys-Adventures". Computer Gaming World (172): 34.
  5. ^ Staff (April 1999). "The Numbers Game". PC Gamer US. 6 (4): 50.
  6. ^ Wolf, Mike (March 1996). "Police Quest: S.W.A.T.". PC Gamer US. Archived from the original on March 26, 2000.
  7. ^ a b Staff (February 1997). "PC Zone Buyers' Guide". PC Zone (47): 112–114, 117, 119, 121, 122, 124.
  8. ^ a b "Police Quest: SWAT". Next Generation. No. 16. Imagine Media. April 1996. p. 91.
  9. ^ Snyder, Frank; Chapman, Ted; Gehrs, Scott (March 1996). "Licensed to Kill". Computer Game Review. Archived from the original on October 19, 1996.
  10. ^ Olafson, Peter (March 1996). "Daryl F. Gates' Police Quest: SWAT". PC Games. Archived from the original on October 18, 1996.

External links[edit]