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SWAT 4 Preview
publisher: Vivendi Games
developer: Irrational Games
PIII 1000, 256MB RAM, 2GB HDD, 32MB video card
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Apr 05, 05 (released)
|» All About SWAT 4 on ActionTrip|
After the January lull, things are heating up again at the ActionTrip house of handcuffs, honey, and love. Smapdey has become chronically addicted to amateur nights at his local strip joint, and I am gaining many pounds due to a severe eating disorder (I eat a lot at night, that's a severe disorder [Maybe if you were to haul your large pasty ass out of that chair and stop playing WoW for 8 hours a night, you would not be so fat and lazy- 2Lions Wife]). Without going too much into the inner workings of our publication, let's just say that, one of these days, we plan to combine amateur stripping nights and my obsession with food, which should result in some memorable moments and signify a dignified and in a way monumental start to the new year (Good luck with the stripper part, buddy -The wife again).
Here comes Mr. Mace, bitch!
Calm down, you're safe now... I think.
On the gaming front, we've finally started receiving some preview code from the game companies. So even though there aren't many games to review, we get to play the upcoming releases and rub it in your ugly faces by posting these hands-on reports. One such game is Sierra's upcoming tactical shooter, under development by Irrational Games, SWAT 4. We got a full preview build, meaning we can play all of the missions in the single-player campaign, which, by the way, looks mostly done.
Now, I do have to point out that this is my first contact with the SWAT series. I've played every Rainbow Six game that was ever released, so you could say I haven't had time to check out how the Special Weapons and Tactics team does their thing. All that has changed now since I've gotten this preview build. As far as I can recall, there were many issues surrounding the development of this game. It's been frequently delayed and what's more, it swapped hands from one development team to another - never a good sign when it comes to developing top grade PC games.
However, SWAT 4 is very much an exception to this rule, as the game plays brilliantly for the most part, even in this pre-release stage. At first glance, I was very pleasantly surprised with the fantastic use of lighting effects as well as bump and normal mapping techniques. The nifty 3D technology is used in such a way that it creates a very moody and realistic ambient, with soft lights flickering against highly detailed surfaces of the gritty and believable urban interiors. Naturally, this makes for some very immersive game play, especially if you consider how well the mechanics have been executed.
It's obvious that the team at Irrational has put in a lot of work into making each of the missions unique. I'm into my fourth mission, and so far, the most memorable one has to be the second mission and its interior design of the house of a notorious mass murderer. The basement area is creepy as all hell, with bloodstained dummies and filthy newspaper articles littered all over the place. As you delve deeper into the killer's lair, you discover evidence of torture and ultimately bound and gagged college girls with bruises on their skin and bloodstains all over their clothes.
The killer's house oozes with bizarre applications (Like Microsoft Office? Get it? A bizarre application? HA HA!!....I hate you. -Ed), which not only raises your adrenaline levels, but it also elevates the game from a simple tactics-based shooter to a genuine single-player experience, complete with an underlining sinister story that does a lot to justify your actions. After hearing what the killer has done during the mission briefing, I have decided he wasn't coming out of the house alive.
Unauthorized use of deadly force - oh yeah!
This is a shitty day to die.
Seeing how the game has a very decent locational damage system implemented, I was intent on shooting the bastard in the kneecaps and letting him bleed to death (Bad cop! No donut! -Ed). Sure, that goes against the principals of the SWAT team, but it's very much in line with my own notion of justice. Actually, what I also did was handcuff his mom and then mace her for like ten minutes, which made me feel very good. I had some other ideas in mind as well, but the game wouldn't let me try them out. Oh well, I guess even serial killers get a lucky break from time to time.
From a technical standpoint and in terms of the game play mechanics, SWAT 4 might be about the smoothest tactical shooter I have played yet. The AI handled themselves impeccably during missions, and the highly intuitive system in which you issue orders with a simple press of the right mouse button is truly refreshing and enjoyable. As ever, a great deal of expertise went into the designing of the missions, and obviously, Irrational had a lot of help from real-life SWAT operatives. The great thing about this game is that even though you do most of the stuff 'by the book,' you still get the suspense and the thrill of a good action game - truly a commendable feat by the programmers.
Granted, there are a few bugs left, most importantly with the handling of the civilians during missions (sometimes you won't be able to secure them and that will prevent you from completing the mission), but overall it looks like Irrational has done a great job of polishing the code and making the game play as fluent as possible. What I've seen so far of SWAT 4 far exceeds my expectations and I'm really looking forward to doing a full-body search of Smapdey... Sorry, I meant a full review - FULL GAME REVIEW! (That's it! I'm packing my bags and going home to mother! -The soon to be EX-wife)
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