Game Review - by James Allen
Dateline: Los Angeles, 2005. The world leaders are coming to town, and you are instructed to protect them and take out the trash. That's right, you're a part of SWAT, the highest of the high in the LAPD. SWAT 3 takes you through missions designed to protect the dignitaries, and protect world peace.
In SWAT 3, you become an element leader in a SWAT squad. Thus, you are responsible for the well being of 4 other officers, and you, as a team, must complete your missions in a timely fashion. While going through your career, you encounter call-ups that increase in difficulty, and range from such tasks as hostage rescue, high-risk arrest, and VIP protection. Each SWAT officer is equipped with a myriad of weapons, from guns and teargas to tools and handcuffs. Almost everything you would ever need on a mission is included.
Even with this completeness, there are a few things missing. The first is the absence of multiplayer. Every game, it seems, now has some sort of multiplayer feature, but SWAT 3 does not. Another is the fact that you can only play as the SWAT team, and not as the bad guys. Both of these features were included in SWAT 2, but were left out of the newest edition. Despite this, the missions are very detailed, and are put together well.
The graphics are exactly what you would expect from a Sierra game: pretty darn realistic. The uniforms of the officers are very detailed, and the houses are exact down to the slightest detail: the phones are propped up on phone books. The environment for SWAT 3 looks really cool under 3-D acceleration. However, SWAT 3 is not without it's errors. For one, you cannot see your gun. Magically, bullets fly out of your head. Talk about SWAT technology! The only indications of what weapon you are currently holding is the cursor in the center of the screen, and sometimes these look the same: flashbangs and CS gas look too similar, and are often confused. Also, the ammunition left for a particular weapon is not displayed, which is very inconvenient if you happen to run out while doing battle. If these additions were made, the graphics would be complete.
The sound for SWAT 3 is very complete. Weapons, doors, footsteps: all sound realistic. The hostages tell their story, and the criminals complain when being arrested: they even grunt while being handcuffed. The best sound feature is the radio communication. When you talk to your mates, it actually sounds like you're talking over a radio. Every command you can give is accompanied by a representative radio message. The sound in SWAT 3 is top notch.
The gameplay is very well done. Before you go in armed, you enter the pre-assault briefing. You can get information on any aspect of the situation, including witnesses, weapons, hostages, and tactical advantages: which entry point will you use? After you are well versed in the crime, and your SWAT squad is equipped to the gills, you can enter Active Duty. The best way to survive is to use good radio communication. If your character dies, the game is over. Thus, make your cronies do all the work! You can point to a door, and instruct your crew to enter with force, or sneak around and search the premises. Once you encounter a hostage or a criminal, you can arrest them, and they are magically transported to safety.
You can constantly keep track of which mission objectives you have completed, so you can know when the mission is complete. The most annoying feature of SWAT 3 is that you must collect all the weapons in the stronghold. The designers of SWAT 3 hide them pretty well, and part of the gameplay is a treasure hunt. Can't the evidence people come in after you? SWAT's got better things to do!
The best feature of SWAT 3 is putting the I back in AI. Unlike some other tactical simulation game that we will call Rainbow S., no wait, R. Six, your teammates actually think for themselves. If there is a bad guy in an adjacent room, they'll get him! No more walking by the room and getting killed! This makes it a lot easier to tell your SWAT outfit to do the dirty work, and saving your life. Overall, the gameplay is very fluid and comprehensive.
SWAT 3 is a step in the right direction from SWAT 2, although some features in SWAT 2 were left out of this addition to the series. This game contends for the best tactical simulation game on the et. If you like games of this genre, SWAT 3 would be a smart purchase. Even those on modems can play, since there is no multiplayer to worry about. Even with this missing, SWAT 3 is a neat, complete game.