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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by Sierra

Ups: Easy set up; incredible graphics & sound; fast & furious action

Downs: Single player only; sometimes stutters

System Reqs:
P233, 32MB RAM, 400 HD space, 4X CD; 3D accelerator card recommended

Greetings and welcome to Los Angeles, 2005 A.D.  Your mission for the next 7-day period is to protect world leaders that are now enroute to LA for a Nuclear Abolishment meeting sponsored by the United Nations.  You, as a highly trained LAPD SWAT Element Leader, must put your team and yourself between these dignitaries and any harm that might befall them while they are in the “City of Angels”.  Good Luck!  You’re going to need it.

SWAT 3 is another winner from the boys and girls at Sierra.  But what else would you expect from a company with a long-standing history of putting out some great games. SWAT 3 ranks up there with Half-Life and Half-Life: Opposing Forces.  It is a very well developed first person action/shooter that will keep you on the edge of your seat for hours, hunting for terrorists while searching for the hostages and disarming explosives before everyone eats it and the bad guys win. Your job is to see to it that nothing interrupts the Nuclear Abolishment meetings, so get to it!

First things first; get the game set up and configured so that it works the way that you want it to. Out of the box everything works great, but the default keyboard controls are some of the weirdest I have ever seen.  All of them had to go before I could accomplish much in the game.  Basically, I just set them up to mirror my Half-Life configuration to avoid confusion when switching from game to game. There are a few exceptions to this idea because your character can do quite a bit more interacting with the environment in SWAT 3 than you can in Half-Life.  You also have to control the 4 NPC’s that you lead around on various missions.  It takes a while to get used to all of the controls, but once you play for a bit they all seem to fall into place.

This game is set up with “gamers” in mind. True “gamers” like to get the box open, the game installed and then get busy blowing bad guys away.  Gamers don’t like to spend a bunch of time searching for patches to make the game run the way its supposed to, or talking to someone at tech-support trying to figure out why the game won’t even run on their system.  That’s what beta tests are for.  Finished products should be hot and ready for action as fast as you can get it installed.  And SWAT 3 delivers in a big way!

As soon as you get your installation finished you’re ready to select the level of difficulty and start playing.  The game is broken up into two parts: single missions and career play.  Single missions allow you to select any mission in the game and run through it. It’s basically the same as career mode but there’s no story and no consequences if you screw up.  So for training I just did a few single missions to get a feel for the game then launched into Career mode.  A quick word of advice for you all: when you start playing, set the difficulty to easy.  After you get tired of winning move it up to medium. The bad guys get about 100 times smarter on medium then they were on easy.  The “difficult” setting is only for people who like suicide missions and are not inclined to strike or throw their machines in fits of anger.

Once you get your feet wet you can jump into a new career.  You get to select your character from a small list and can even adjust his race and features.  With that under control you can put your team together and move on to your first real mission.  All of your missions are prefaced by a cool audio break down of your mission over what sounds like a police radio (of course).  The chief, your boss, sounds like a Baldwin (my money is on Alec).  He breaks down the mission, explains the situation and gives you a heads-up on any late-breaking information.  With that out of the way, all you have to do is select your equipment and your point of entry before you and your team arrive on scene.

The equipment available to you as a LAPD SWAT member is pretty intense.  You have your choice of an H&K MP5, a Silenced MP5, a M4, or a Benelli 12 gage shotgun, and that’s just your primary weapon.  You still have a .45 cal backup handgun and a bunch of extra equipment like CS gas, C2, Flashbangs, Glowsticks, Handcuffs, Wire Cutters, and of course a bunch of extra ammo.  Different weapons work better in different situations, so be sure to pay attention to your briefings so that you know what you should take with you.  Be aware that a silenced weapon greatly reduces the exit velocity of the bullet, making it harder to punch through body armor, and hollow point ammo doesn’t do as much damage as a FMJ round when the assailants are wearing armor.  But with some work on your aim, you should be able to get the shot lined up and shoot ‘em between the eyes; then it won’t matter if they have body armor on or not!

There is nothing like the sound of a highly trained SWAT unit breaking down a door, bursting into the unknown to take out the terrorists and save the hostages.  All of this and more is brought to life in the game.  The gunfire is very realistic, as is the fact that all of your orders to your team are voiced over the radio, as are their responses.  This helps to draw you deep into the game world.  Your control is not limited to your team, however; you can also communicate with the outside.  You can radio for a team to come in and evacuate a hostage, take away a “perp”, or call for an “evac” team to pull out the members of your team that were gunned down by the bad guys.  In fact, just about everyone in the game talks to you, including terrorists, hostages, and other police.

When you have incredible sound effects, what better way to support them than with INCREDIBLE graphics?  The 3D world created for SWAT 3 is extremely realistic.  All of the characters and environments have been painstakingly re-created for the game, and the game runs very smoothly for the most part.  There are a few times when things get crazy that the action slows a bit—almost as though you were playing a multi-player game and experiencing a surge of lag.  While not always fatal, it can compromise your position and part of your team.

Speaking of lag, I was a little disappointed that there was no multi-player aspect to this game.  Talk about a perfect game for multi-player!  This game could compete with Rogue Spear, Half-Life, and Spec Ops II without a second thought.  For whatever reason, Sierra didn’t decide to set it up yet.  Maybe a future download, patch, or add-on CD will be available soon that will include a multi-player, because this game screams “kill your friends on multi-player!”

This game is very well designed and should provide you with hours of wholesome, gun-toting, bad-guy-blasting entertainment.  The graphics and sound will keep your attention locked on your computer, as your team calls out hostile and hostage contacts. You will be shouting out orders and sneaking carefully through houses, hotels, airports, malls, and office buildings to find the last of the hostages before its too late. 

SWAT 3 is a must have for any action/shooter fan.  Your game library won’t be complete without this title, even though it lacks any kind of multi-player engine.  The good NPC AI and strong play control, combined with the graphics and sound more than make up for its minor glitches.  And I do mean minor.  When you look at this game as a whole, its only flaws worth mentioning (slight stutter when too much going on and no multi-player) are pretty nit-picky.  Be sure to check this one out!  You won’t be disappointed at all.

--Ben Moore