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|Publisher(s)||Vivendi Universal Games[a]|
SWAT 4 is a 2005 tactical shooter video game developed by Irrational Games and published by Vivendi Universal Games exclusively for Microsoft Windows. 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, simulating the experiences of real-life Special Weapons and Tactics officers.
Unlike previous installments in the Police Quest 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.
In SWAT 4, the player first starts off by undergoing training at Riverside Training Facility, under the guidance of police Lieutenant Sunny Bonds. The training will teach players how to clear rooms, fire weapons, command his "element", and learn how to use the snipers. Thereafter, players will start to be deployed to various places for operations, such as hostage situations, barricaded suspects and high risk warrant services.
The practice of only using lethal force when only necessary is always highlighted in the game. Operators are supposed to abide by the Rules of Engagement while carrying out operations. As SWAT is a life-saving organisation, reckless use of lethal force would not be appropriate. For example, Operators cannot fire lethal rounds at a fleeing suspect, as he/she does not pose an immediate threat to anyone in the nearby vicinity. Doing so will result in a penalty for unauthorised use of force.
Hence, the score that is given to Lead Operators after every operation is based on the RoE. The score will factor in the number of suspects successfully arrested, the number of evidence secured and the injuries Operators sustain while in the operation. Penalties such as the unauthorised use of force, the unauthorised use of deadly force, the incapacitation of a hostage, and the injuring of a fellow officer are also awarded.
A wide array of weapons are available for selection during the pre-mission briefing, ranging from lethal weapons such as the M4A1 Colt Carbine, to less-lethal weapons like the Less-Lethal Shotgun, and the Pepper-Ball Gun. Operators can also wear varying levels of armour and headgear during operations, such as Kevlar vests and gas masks. Other equipment such as the Optiwand and door wedges are also available for use. Each Operator is fitted with a helmet camera, which can be used to issue commands from.
The pre-mission briefing, which the Lead Operator will have access to before every mission, consists of a summary of the operation, the 911 call made by civilians inside the compromised building (if available), selection of weapons and intelligence about the suspects, civilians, a map of the building and a timeline of events. Players can choose from two entry points in most operations.
As all aggressors are innocent until proven guilty, hostiles are referred to as "suspects", in SWAT 4. Suspects range from being poorly-organised, ill-equipped and not resistant to arrest, to well-organised, well-equipped and being resistant to arrest as the game progresses. New equipment is available to use after every successful mission. Operators will listen for your commands before acting. For example, a suspect may have surrendered, but Operators will only take these suspects into custody only after the command to restrain them is given. However, Operators will also act on their own accord. For example, Operators may fire on uncooperative suspects in self-defense, without being commanded to.
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.
- Smash & Grab. (Only available on The Stetchkov Syndicate expansion) The suspects must collect the briefcase and take it to the exit before the timer runs out. The officers must stop the suspects from reaching the exit with the briefcase. If a suspect is arrested, 30 seconds are deduced from the game clock, If a suspect is killed or arrested carrying the briefcase, the case stays where it is dropped. Officers cannot pick up the briefcase.
SWAT 4 received "generally positive" reviews, according to review aggregator Metacritic. On a computer game sales chart compiled by NPD Techworld, it claimed tenth place for the week ending April 17. It finished 11th for the month of April overall, at an average retail price of $48.
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. The website later criticized a feature of the first patch for SWAT 4, where the environments now had advertisment posters, and after the game was closed data regarding how the player treated the product placement was sent to the developers.
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".
SWAT 4: The Stetchkov Syndicate
SWAT 4: The Stetchkov Syndicate is an expansion pack for SWAT 4 released on February 28, 2006 in North America and on March 10, 2006 in Europe, and is based on the fictional Stetchkov family.
Various improvements to the game have been made, such as the addition of VoIP capability to multiplayer games, seven new single-player missions, two new multiplayer modes and seven new weapons. Players may also use their fists to punch suspects and civilians if they are not compliant. Suspects will now also 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 along with the ability to hold commands in single-player missions until the lead operator gives the signal were also added. An option for the appointment of lead operators to issue commands for the red and blue teams in multiplayer was also added.
- Released under the Sierra Entertainment brand name.
- "SWAT 4 for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
- Colayco, Bob. "SWAT 4 Review". GameSpot. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
- Adams, Dan (March 30, 2005). "SWAT 4". IGN. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
- "Top-Selling Software; Week of April 10 - April 16, 2005". NPD Techworld. Archived from the original on May 21, 2006.
- Thorsen, Tor (June 1, 2005). "ChartSpot: April 2005". GameSpot. Archived from the original on June 3, 2005.
- Swat 4 in-game adverts do more than just advertise, The Inquirer
- Best and Worst of 2005: Most Despicable Product Placement, GameSpot
- Staff (March 2006). "The Best (and Worst) of 2005; The 15th Annual Computer Games Awards". Computer Games Magazine (184): 42–47.
- "SWAT 4: The Stetchkov Syndicate for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved February 22, 2018.