SWAT 3: Close Quarters Battle

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SWAT 3: Close Quarters Battle
Developer(s)Sierra Northwest
Publisher(s)Sierra Studios
Director(s)Tammy Dargan
Producer(s)Rod Fung
Designer(s)Tammy Dargan
Programmer(s)Jim Napier
Artist(s)Cyrus Kanga
Writer(s)Tammy Dargan
Composer(s)Gary Spinrad
SeriesPolice Quest
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
  • NA: November 30, 1999
  • EU: 1999
Genre(s)Tactical shooter
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

SWAT 3: Close Quarters Battle is a tactical shooter video game developed by Sierra Northwest and published by Sierra Entertainment for Microsoft Windows-based PCs. It is the seventh installment of the Police Quest series and the first game in the series to be played from the first-person perspective. Unlike many other first-person shooter games, SWAT 3 places an emphasis on realistic police methods and tactics, including proper room clearance, use of less-lethal weaponry, ordering compliance and arresting enemies rather than shooting on sight, and differentiating between authorized and unauthorized use of lethal force.

SWAT 3 is set in 2005 Los Angeles, with the player assuming the role of a Los Angeles Police Department SWAT officer, leading a five-man element of computer-controlled teammates. Los Angeles is due to host a major, United Nations-brokered nuclear disarmament treaty signing attended by a number of world powers. LAPD SWAT is tasked with protecting the treaty event and the attending dignitaries from a number of violent criminal and terrorist groups seeking to either abuse or disrupt the treaty signing event for their own ends.

SWAT 3 was met by positive critical acclaim, attracting praise for its graphics and AI sophistication. A sequel, SWAT 4, was released in April 2005, developed and published by Irrational Games and Sierra owner Vivendi Universal.


SWAT 3 is a tactical team-based first person shooter played cooperatively with computer or human-controlled teammates, as a five-man Police SWAT element. The game is divided into missions, representing separate SWAT deployments to various crisis situations. Mission environments are typically indoors, necessitating room-to-room CQB tactics. Operations include hostage rescue, armed standoffs and bomb disposal. Enemies, referred to as 'suspects', include individuals, disorganised small groups and trained, politically motivated terrorists.

The pre-mission loadout screen. The weaponry and ammunition loadout of each officer in the element is customizable to suit different situations.

Unlike military shooters, such as the comparable Rainbow Six games, the player and teammates are cast as policemen rather than soldiers. The primary objective when dealing with armed suspects is to arrest them alive instead of shooting on sight.[1] Some incidents of unauthorized use of lethal force (shooting an unarmed, incapacitated, surrendering or non-threatening character) will result in mission failure.

The original game has 16 missions total, ranging from rapid deployment to VIP protection. Some of the maps are based on real locations such as the LA City Hall and the Convention Center. The expansions added 11 new missions, giving the game a total of 27 missions. The earlier missions are more routine SWAT deployments, keeping the learning curve shallow for new players.

The SWAT team's equipment is focused towards less than lethal and CQB tactics, with some updates to suit the futuristic setting. In addition to the LAPD SWAT standard issue Springfield M1911 sidearm, the player can equip individual squad members with an HK MP5 or MP5SD submachine gun, a Benelli M1 Super 90 shotgun or a Colt M4A1 carbine. The M4A1 has a secondary barrel for firing non-lethal beanbag rounds in addition to its primary full metal jacket, the M1 Super 90 can be loaded with either buckshot or breaching ammunition for destroying locked doors and the MP5, MP5SD and M1911 can be optionally loaded with either full metal jacket or expanding hollow point ammunition, depending upon the situation. All weapons have a flashlight attachment. The game allows the different types of ammunition varying levels of penetration through different materials, making "spray and pray" firing risky due to the potential of hitting an unseen NPC.

Computer-controlled SWAT officers confronting an armed suspect while clearing a room; the suspect has been stunned by a flashbang thrown through the door immediately prior to entry by the officers.

In addition to firearms, the player's SWAT officers are equipped with flashbang and tear gas grenades for disorienting and debilitating suspects, breaching explosives for opening locked doors, lightsticks for signalling and lighting, a Leatherman multitool and an 'Opti-Wand'; a camera on a telescoping wand used for safely looking around corners and through doorways - a high-tech equivalent of real-life mirror on a stick tools used for the same purposes. Officers wear body armor and enclosed helmets with inbuilt respirator equipment and a HUD projected inside the faceplate, used as an in-game explanation for the presentation of ammunition counts, targeting reticules and other information.

The player character's health is displayed as a vertical scale. In-game, this represents the readings of various sensors inside the officer's clothing measuring blood loss, body temperature and other vital signs. Health does not regenerate and injuries cannot be treated mid-mission. Officers cannot withstand a large number of injuries without being incapacitated. This encourages the player to use slow, methodical CQB tactics making use of flashbangs and tear gas rather than run and gun style assaults.

Missions can be approached in either stealth or dynamic mode. In stealth mode, the SWAT team moves slowly and deliberately, speaking softly and avoiding loud noises (e.g., quietly dismantling a door lock with the multitool rather than noisily destroying it with explosives or a breaching round), and making use of the Opti-Wand. This allows the SWAT team the element of surprise when choosing to engage suspects. In dynamic mode, the team moves quickly, speaks loudly and freely uses breaching munitions and flashbangs in order to clear an area rapidly. The player can freely shift between stealth and dynamic modes. The game automatically shifts from stealth to dynamic when the team is compromised by a loud noise or contact with a suspect.

Difficulty levels range through easy, medium and hard, affecting the aggression and likelihood of surrender of suspects. The player can also separately adjust reaction times for both officers and suspects, from 1 to 20 milliseconds.

SWAT 3 also includes a multiplayer mode, including traditional Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes, as well as Cooperative play using the single player missions. Initially, the SWAT 3 servers for online multiplayer modes were operated by Sierra Entertainment. Following the purchase of Sierra by Activision, the SWAT 3 multiplayer servers went down permanently. However, multiplayer functionality can be restored using VPN software and third-party multiplayer servers operated by SWAT 3 fan communities[citation needed].

Additionally, a fair-sized modding community has grown around SWAT 3, producing new missions, maps, weapons and character models for use in both singleplayer and multiplayer modes.[2] SWAT 3 includes tools and support for modifying the game.



The game is set in Los Angeles, California in the game's then-future of 2005, shortly before the signing of a United Nations nuclear abolishment treaty. The player and LAPD SWAT is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the treaty is signed safely. A number of fictional domestic and foreign terrorist groups serve as antagonists, who plan on using the signing as a platform for their demands. To make matters worse, lost Soviet portable atomic demolition devices ("suitcase nukes") are reported to have buyers in the L.A. metropolitan area.


In July 2005, LAPD SWAT executes a search warrant at the home of Martin Brenner, a suspected freeway sniper. Afterwards, they go up against the domestic terrorist organization "Sovereign America" with an arrest warrant served on one of their members, Victor Getts, a former EOD technician suspected of vehicular manslaughter and bomb making.

The bombing of the Turkish consulate, and kidnap of ambassador Jemil Kemal introduces the Kurdish People's Party. This is followed by an invasion of the home of Donald Foreman, CEO of a large cable provider by a heavily armed group, holding Foreman, his wife Linda, and his two children for ransom.

The Orthodox patriarch Alexei III and his retinue are held in an orthodox cathedral by an armed group is the first incident connected to the treaty signing, as the bishop is visiting Los Angeles to attend the signing. Matters are complicated by the private security team hired to protect Alexei. This security team provide an unknown variable. They may either attack the SWAT team or the terrorists.

The downing of the aircraft of the Algerian president by a surface-to-air missile becomes a serious international incident and marks the entrance of the People's Liberation Party. The resulting chaos caused by the shutdown of LAX has created a significant number of vulnerable targets for more missiles, including the airplane of Russian president, Igor Stomas. The missile is traced to a waterworks construction site, and SWAT is dispatched to investigate. Soon after, the PLP storms a television studio during an afternoon talk show, holding LA Mayor Marlin Fitzpatrick, Tolerance Defense League Chairman Herman Moyer, host Donna Briggs and many members of the audience and station staff hostage. The group demands an international broadcast of their message of Soviet reunification.

An armed suspect with a hostage. Suspects' AI will often try to place innocents between themselves and SWAT officers as human shields.[3]

SWAT's next task is serving an arrest warrant for Ric Peters at his nightclub, The Phoenix Lounge, after he and Malta are finally identified as the group responsible for both the Foreman home invasion and cathedral incident. They also have to respond to a failed bank heist by Sovereign America, who have wounded an off-duty policeman and barricaded themselves in the bank.

The People's Liberation Party again targets President Stomas at his penthouse suite at the Carlysle Hotel, demanding a flight to Moscow with the intention of taking Stomas with them.

In the final run up to the treaty signing, SWAT is given VIP protection duty for dignitaries at a pre-signing meeting at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The day goes smoothly until multiple armed terrorists attempt to disrupt this meeting, holding several important politicians hostage.

The People's Liberation Party strike again after the convention center incident in another attempt to disrupt the treaty signing, creating a national emergency by taking over the LAX control tower, broadcasting false Air Traffic Control information (resulting in a midair collision) and installing another surface-to-air missile launcher at the top of the tower, threatening aircraft carrying dignitaries headed to the treaty signing. Air Force One is briefly in the area but is diverted quickly to Edwards Air Force Base. Despite danger to the President of the United States being averted, there are many more civilian planes waiting to be diverted to other airports following the FAA's closure of LAX after the earlier collision. SWAT storms the tower from the basement and soon restores order.

SWAT is required for VIP protection duty at a World Trade Organization conference at the Ventura Hotel, accompanying the treaty signing. Death threats have been received by some of the attendees from various militia factions, and several militia men storm the building and are defeated by SWAT. This is followed shortly afterwards by the bombing of an electric substation leaving most of LA without power, save for Municipal buildings with backup generators. This was apparently a diversion, to allow Sovereign America forces led by Tobias Stromm himself to take over City Hall, for what Stromm calls an "end of the world vigil". It transpires that Sovereign America was the winner of the auction for one of the suitcase nukes, now installed and guarded by Stromm at the top of the tower, and Sovereign America intends to destroy the entire city in a last stand, but SWAT breaks the siege, defuses the nuke, and captures Stromm and his gunmen.

During the final preparations for the treaty signing, and the celebrations afterward, suspicious personnel are observed entering the storm drain system near UCLA, where a parade is supposed to pass, carrying heavy equipment and overheard talking about demolitions. The storm drain system had already been cleared once by the police - after being alerted to these developments, SWAT is sent in to investigate, neutralizing a mysterious armed group disguised as maintenance workers.

Finally, SWAT is tasked with protecting the treaty signing. In a last-ditch attempt to stop the signing, the People's Liberation Party attack, hiding a second suitcase nuke in the building and taking many dignitaries hostage. Despite this, with the intervention of SWAT, the treaty signing is completed successfully (mission failure results in the nuclear destruction of Los Angeles).


There are a number of militant or terrorist factions encountered by SWAT over the course of the game, of various nationalities and agendas. The Kurdish People's Party is a small, disorganized U.S.-based splinter of a group seeking the independence of Kurdistan from Turkey. The cell is led by Lokman Damar. Malta is a U.S.-based terrorists-for-hire group led by a man named Ric "Dog" Peters. The People's Liberation Party, also referred to as the PLP, is a Russian Communist group which seeks the reunification of the Soviet Union. The group is quite large with a number of different leaders, and prefers hostage-taking to achieve their goals, holding many people around the world. Sovereign America is one of the main antagonist factions in the game; a militia recognized as a domestic terrorist group by the U.S. government after the bombings of courthouses and other municipal buildings. Sovereign America asserts that the U.S. government is part of a 'new world order' that will take away their freedom. Accordingly, they reject all government authority, including police. Sovereign America is led by Tobias Stromm, self-proclaimed minister and preacher of "end of the world rhetoric".


The game's producer is Rod Fung[4][5] and the designer is Tammy Dargan; both were part of the team that developed the first SWAT game.[6] Initial development of SWAT 3 began in May 1997 and took over 18 months to complete, with 20 developers working on the game.[6]

As the first first-person shooter of the Police Quest series, SWAT 3 received a new game engine with cell and portal technologies for simulation of environments and advanced AI and ballistics. The developers spent some time consulting with LAPD SWAT, including a real-life SWAT element leader and LAPD SWAT founder Daryl Gates in order to create an accurate, realistic simulation.[7] Most of the animations in the game were motion captured from a real-life SWAT officer.[8]

A Dreamcast version was planned for release in 2000, but it was ultimately cancelled for unknown reasons.

SWAT3 was released in three main versions:

  • SWAT 3: Close Quarters Battle (November 30, 1999) - initial release.
  • SWAT 3: Elite Edition (October 6, 2000) - added multiplayer, new game modes and new missions. Included in version 1.6 update.
  • SWAT 3: Tactical Game of the Year Edition (October 10, 2001) - added new missions. Included in version 2.0 update. Retail copies included an 'Advanced Tactics CD' containing real-life SWAT training footage. This content is also available with the game's GOG.com release.

Older versions of the game can be upgraded to a newer version through a free download from the game's website.

SWAT 3 received a sequel: SWAT 4, developed by Irrational Games and published by Vivendi Universal in April 2005.


Close Quarters Battle[edit]

SWAT 3 received "favorable" reviews according to the review aggregation website GameRankings.[9] Praise was lavished on the graphics, along with the AI of enemies and civilians and team interaction.

Max Everingham reviewed the PC version of the game for Next Generation, rating it five stars out of five, and stated that "SWAT 3 offers a superb gaming experience. Red Storm may play the realism ticket, but Sierra is the one to have nailed it."[20]

PC Gamer UK gave it 91% and said: "All the best ideas from other squad based games, shoehorned into a police setting, perfectly."[22] GameSpot commented that "SWAT 3's most impressive feature has to be the amazing artificial intelligence employed by friend and foe alike" and praising the graphics and level design, but criticised the lack of multiplayer in the initial release, the tendency for some dialogue to repeat, the need to "radio in" every suspect or hostage secured, and the need to restart missions from scratch should the player be wounded.[16] Tal Blevins of IGN praised the graphics, level design and AI (although noting an occasional tendency for computer-controlled SWAT officers to walk into the player's line of fire, resulting in friendly fire incidents), but also praised the clean interface, dialogue recording and mission briefing screens and the feel of the weapons. However, the lack of multiplayer in CQB and deficiencies in the game's manual were singled out for criticism.[3]

SWAT 3 was a runner-up for Computer Gaming World's "Action Game of the Year" and PC Gamer US's "Best Action Game" awards, both of which went to Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear.[23][24] The editors of PC Gamer US wrote of SWAT 3's single-player mode, "[G]raphically, environmentally, and tactically, it was unsurpassed among action games this year."[24]

In the United States, SWAT 3's sales reached 40,095 copies by April 2000.[25]

Elite Edition[edit]

The Elite Edition received "favorable" reviews according to the review aggregation website Metacritic.[26] Martin Taylor of Eurogamer awarded the Elite Edition praised the graphics and level design, and particularly the new multiplayer component, citing efficient, low-lag networking code and singling out the co-operative multiplayer game mode for its effectiveness, although noting that the deathmatch game mode will often be dominated by one player with a fast connection camping in one area of the map, responding negatively to the WON.net multiplayer service and criticizing the ease with which the arrest-based gameplay can break down in a fierce firefight.[28] IGN's review of the Elite Edition version responded positively to the new multiplayer component and the new missions, but noted some bugs.[31]

The Elite Edition received a "Silver" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA),[32] indicating sales of at least 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom.[33]


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