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Original SWAT 4 North American box art
|Distributor(s)||Vivendi Universal Games|
|Series||Police Quest and SWAT|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 2|
|Genre(s)||First-person shooter, tactical shooter|
SWAT 4 is a tactical first-person shooter video game developed by Irrational Games and published by Vivendi Universal Games on April 5, 2005. It was built on Irrational Games's Vengeance Engine powered by Unreal Engine 2 technology. In SWAT 4, the player leads a SWAT tactical element in resolving various situations, such as hostage standoffs or apprehensions of dangerous subjects. An expansion to SWAT 4, entitled SWAT 4: The Stetchkov Syndicate, was released on February 28, 2006.
Unlike previous installments in the Police Quest and SWAT video game series, which followed LAPD SWAT officers through missions set in Los Angeles, California, the single-player campaign of SWAT 4 takes place in fictional East Coast city of Fairview (an amalgamation of New York City, Boston, and other eastern cities), during the game's then-future of 2008 to 2009. During the single-player campaign, the player is tasked with leading a five-man police SWAT team, also known as an "element", through 13 missions.
To simulate realistic police procedures, SWAT 4 encourages the use of non-lethal force to subdue and arrest subjects rather than incapacitating or killing them. In addition, players must follow strict protocol to ensure proper use of force. Players may not fire on suspects with lethal weapons unless the suspect points their firearm at a fellow officer or a civilian. Penalties are given for unauthorized use of force, injuries to hostages, officer incapacitation, and personal injury. If a hostage is killed, the mission is automatically deemed a failure. On the higher difficulty levels, more points are required to pass the mission, with 100 being perfect. On the most difficult level, Elite, players need a 95/100 to pass, and will fail for killing even a single suspect, losing more than two team members without committing an infraction, or committing any infraction in addition to being injured.
The player character leads a five-man SWAT element made up of the leader and four other men that are divided into two pairs, called "teams". The teams are assigned colors, "red" or "blue". The player does not assume direct control over the other officers. However, orders can be issued from an order selection menu, ranging from clearing a room to covering an area and handcuffing a compliant person. Additionally, a video camera is mounted on each police officer's helmet. This allows the leader to see what other members of the element see, and to issue appropriate orders to a team that is in another location.
All missions start with a pre-mission briefing which describes the situation and gives whatever details are available on the suspects or hostages. For some missions, a 911 call is heard, which can give a clue on what to expect, and what equipment should be chosen for that situation. The briefing identifies mission goals, which consists of bringing order to chaos by arresting or neutralizing all suspects, and rescue all hostages or other civilians. Sniper support may also be provided, but the snipers' views are limited to static parts of the map, often covering a single window. Different objectives may include the capture of a specific suspect, finding out the fate of an undercover officer, or defusing explosives. After the briefing, the player can choose equipment for themselves and the other four officers. Some mission maps also provide for multiple entry points.
A perfect score may be gained in a campaign by arresting all suspects and rescuing all civilians, securing all weapons, reporting all status updates, not suffering any losses to the team, and not receiving injury. The missions progress from poorly armed suspects to well-equipped terrorists with weapons such as AKM rifles. Suspects may also obtain gas masks, helmets, and body armor, sometimes given to them by the police during negotiations. Suspects who cannot be arrested or who will not cooperate when verbally challenged must be neutralized according to SWAT protocol.
SWAT 4 uses the concept of authorized and unauthorized use of weapons. Most situations require the officers to give the suspect a warning to give them the chance to surrender. Shooting without warning is considered unauthorized use of force or deadly force, depending on whether the player kills the suspect. A non-compliant suspect that does not point his weapon at another person may not be lawfully shot. A single unauthorized use of force deducts 5 points, while deadly force deducts 10 points—in addition to the loss of score because of not taking suspects alive. Shooting without warning is allowed if the suspect is pointing their weapon at a hostage or a SWAT team member or if they open fire. Suspect reactions to warnings differ—some may attempt to hide and set up an ambush, some immediately surrender, others will flee and some will open fire. Some suspects may also pretend to surrender and open fire or run. Suspects cannot be immobilized; shots to the legs or feet only causes them to limp.
The characters in SWAT 4 are easily injured. Even though all members of the element are equipped with armor, they can be incapacitated quickly. If the player is incapacitated, then the mission ends in failure. Lightly wounded players suffer gameplay penalties depending on injury locations. Leg injuries result in a limp, and arm injuries result in loss of accuracy.
SWAT 4 also features several multiplayer game modes, all of which are team-based: SWAT versus suspects. The multiplayer modes are:
- Barricaded Suspects. Teams gain points by arresting or killing members of the other team. The team which hits the score limit first or has the highest score when the round time ends wins.
- VIP Escort. A random member of the SWAT team is selected to be the VIP. The suspects must arrest the VIP, hold him for two minutes and then execute him. The SWAT team must escort the VIP to an extraction point on the map. If the suspects kill the VIP without holding him for two minutes, SWAT wins. If a SWAT team member kills the VIP, suspects win.
- Rapid Deployment. Three to five bombs are placed throughout the map. The SWAT team must locate and disable them all within a time limit, if they fail to do so, suspects win.
- Co-op. This allows the player to play through the single-player missions with up to four other people taking the place of computer-controlled SWAT officers. In the expansion, Co-op can run on custom missions and with up to ten players per game, which can further be split into two completely separate teams (red and blue) with a leader each. This is not similar to single player teams where an element leader controls both teams.
In October 2012, Gamespy removed the multiplayer master server from SWAT 4. The multiplayer components of the game remain playable via direct IP and community made replacement browsers.
A major factor in SWAT 4 is selecting appropriate equipment to use for the mission. Several firearms are available for use. For most guns, it is possible to choose between standard hollow point ammunition (which is better suited for those enemies in light armor or with no armor as it has good stopping power and can cause the most damage to unarmored targets), and full metal jacket ammunition, which provides better penetration and is advised for use against heavily armored targets. In addition, the player can choose a loadout of less-than-lethal weapons, which do not have the capacity to incapacitate or kill but instead force compliance, and other pieces of tactical equipment. There are two primary weapons that are non-lethal and one secondary. The primary ones are the non-lethal shotgun, which fires beanbags at a high muzzle velocity, which causes disorientation and intense pain, and the "pepperball" gun, which is essentially a heavy duty paintball gun that fires paintballs filled with a chemical irritant. The only available secondary weapon that is not lethal is the Taser. The other piece of non-lethal tactical equipment is pepper spray, which can be carried alongside other tactical equipment: stingers, flashbangs, CS gas, door wedges and the Opti-wand. In the Stetchkov Syndicate, two additional nonlethal weapons are introduced: the less-lethal grenade launcher, which can fire batons, flashbangs, CS gas, and stingers; and the Cobra stun gun, which fires either one or two Taser shots at once or can be used as a contact stun gun.
When playing online, the player has an added protections tab in the equipment selection. The player has to choose between a gas mask or helmet, and thus even the SWAT team can be affected by CS gas if the helmet is selected. When choosing the gas mask, the player's vision is partly blocked and the player's head is more vulnerable. The player must also choose between heavy or light armor.
An expansion pack for SWAT 4 titled SWAT 4: The Stetchkov Syndicate was released on February 28, 2006 in North America and on March 10, 2006 in Europe. The expansion includes seven new missions featuring the fictional Stetchkov crime family.
VoIP capability has been added to multiplayer games, there are seven new missions, two new multiplayer modes, seven new weapons, players may strike suspects or hostages to prompt compliance, which has the same effect as a non-lethal weapon, suspects will now pick up their weapons if they are not swiftly arrested, 10 player co-op with up to two teams of five, stat tracking, ladders and rankings for multiplayer, orders can be held in single player until the leader gives the go command and an option to have only one person issue commands and lead the team.
IGN's Dan Adams awarded the game a 9/10 score, commenting that "Irrational's new addition to the venerable SWAT franchise does a brilliant job of picking up on all of the things that make SWAT work so exciting from the outside perspective". Adams was also critical of the friendly Artificial Intelligence, stating that "sometimes the team will bust into a room on command and take down everybody with enough efficiency to be impressive while other times they'll run straight past an enemy looking to cover a certain area of the room only to get shot in the back of the head".
GameSpot's Bob Colayco stated that "as a realistic police simulator, SWAT 4 definitely hits the mark. Though the frame rate gets chunky at times, and there are a couple of irritating bugs and quirks, the AI delivers on most counts in a game that is designed with great replayability." His score was an 8.5/10.
- "GameRanking's SWAT 4 Review".
- "Metacritic's SWAT 4 Review".
- Gillen, Kieron (March 5, 2009). "EuroGamer's SWAT 4 Review". EuroGamer. p. 2. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
- Colayco, Bob. "SWAT 4 Review". GameSpot.com. GameSpot. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
- Adams, Dan (March 4, 2009). "IGN's SWAT 4 Review". IGN. p. 3. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
- "X-Play's SWAT 4 Review". G4TV. March 9, 2009. p. 1. Retrieved 2009-03-10.