"A decent game which could keep arcade action fans happy"
The SWAT franchise from Sierra has had a mixed time of it lately. SWAT 3 is considered by some as the best tactical action game ever. Developer Argonaut Games have changed the theory behind SWAT and the changes are both good and bad in terms of the franchise. Has SWAT got what it takes to match it with Rainbow Six 3?
The storyline behind SWAT: Global Strike Team is that Victor Carter has escaped and is causing all sorts of havoc around the globe. You as TAC-3 must travel to various locations disarming bombs and generally trying to capture this fugitive before its to late. There is only one primary game mode in single player for SWAT: Global Strike team and that is the campaign. The campaign comprises of twenty one missions, seven more then Rainbow. Don't be deceived however because most of the missions in SWAT are significantly smaller and more action oriented then its Ubisoft cousin. There is another time based game mode, which basically makes you play through the single player campaign with a time limit. Taking down enemies increases the time left.
You play as TAC-3, who are built up with three elite SWAT soldiers. A demolitions man, a female sniper and the character you play as. Throughout the missions you will be given tasks such as rescuing a captured SWAT member, disarming bombs, or arresting particular people. Whilst for most of the game you play as the same character and can't change to the others, in some sections you do get to take the persona of the other characters. For instance in one mission you have to clear out a landing zone with the sniper before the others can land. Some of the tasks such as breaching a door or picking a lock can only be performed by one team member. If either of the other two die, the mission is a failure and you have to return to the last checkpoint.
The biggest problem with SWAT: Global Strike Team is its linearity. The game may contain twenty one missions which does seem quite a lot for a campaign, but due to the linearity it is almost impossible to get lost. Whilst some will welcome this with open arms, this also means that there is only one way of doing each task usually. Most missions can be completed quickly. There will be times where you may have a decision to make in terms of where to go, but the wrong path either will interconnect with the correct one or lead you not to far astray.
Before each mission like in Rainbow Six 3 you get to choose your load out for your character. SWAT: Global Strike Team only has very generic choices such as machine gun and shotgun and no real weapons or weapon names are used. You can also pack things such as flashbangs and a tranquilliser dart gun to help take down the enemies. One thing you have to keep an eye on is the compliance meter. The compliance meter shows how close an enemy character is to giving up. Before you shoot any enemies, you must press X which yells "Freeze Police" or something like it. Failure to do so gets you in trouble with the higher ups in the SWAT force.
The AI is also a mixed bag. Individually they really are quite dull, but put them together and you have a challenge on your hands. On the lowest difficulty level they do exhibit some stupidity at times however. For instance in one mission we burst through the doors to find an enemy just standing there, gun not even at the ready waiting to be shot. The difficulty level also dictates how much health your character is given and how many continues you are given per mission. The enemies also appear to be more accurate depending on the difficulty level chosen. One thing with the enemies is they won't try to find cover, they will just stand there shooting at you waiting to be taken down. Whilst this approach can cause your team a few problems, it still isn't very impressive.
One thing that the game does well is capture a SWAT atmosphere really well. Your team mates will constantly be in contact with each other and there is a sense of urgency throughout all the missions, especially ones where timers are involved for bombs etc. For instance there are many ways to open a door, blow it up (breach), kick it down, or slowly push it open. Obviously the first two ways alert enemies to your presence. The animations during these sequences are quite impressive, with team mates using hand signals such as a thumbs up to communicate rather then voice. If you have the Xbox Live voice communicator, you can command your team mates via the headset like in Rainbow, although it is just as easy to command them via the controller.
In the twenty one missions of the single player campaign you will visit all parts of the globe. Ranging from banks to corporate buildings, a stadium, ice base and many others they are all highly detailed and look quite unique in comparison to each other. Some of the missions are split across two or three sub-missions which does lessen the unique aspect of each environment but overall they are impressive. As mentioned before the problem with the map design is that it is so linear.
Visually SWAT is quite impressive but there are signs that this game was also going to be a Playstation 2 game. The character animations are great and the environments are heavily detailed but the gun models can leave a lot to be desired. The unique aspect of each environment definitely helps in terms of graphic splendour. The game features a cinematic soundtrack and the voice acting is average but gets the job done. Multiplayer is only available on the same console but the game does feature a completely different and unique campaign for co-operative play only. No online play is included and this does harm the title in terms of replay value and long term play value.
Many people wondered how SWAT: Global Strike Team would turn out once it was known that they were to become an international force rather then city based. The answer is a decent action game which fans of the genre will enjoy. If you're looking for something to continue you onto your tactical ways after completing Rainbow Six 3, this isn't it. However if you want a game where action comes before tactics in most cases then SWAT: Global Strike Team could be right up your alley.
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