SWAT 4 Preview

SWAT 4 isn’t necessarily your typical first-person shooter. It doesn’t have the fast-paced run ‘n gun gameplay that you’ll find in most of today’s shooters, and if that’s what you’re looking for then look elsewhere. Instead, SWAT 4 represents the best of tactical squad-based games and is so slow that it might bore most gamers.

We’ll get to the slow gameplay a bit later, but first we should mention that this preview is in no way about the single-player campaign for SWAT 4. Recently we have been playing the multiplayer beta for SWAT 4 which is what this preview is based upon. The multiplayer only includes one gameplay mode and one map which is enough to give us an overall impression of how SWAT 4 will perform.

The gameplay mode included with the beta is a VIP Rescue mode. This has been seen in games before, but it’s done a little different here. In games like Counter-Strike: Source, when you would escort hostages (VIPs), they would be controlled by bots. However in SWAT 4, the VIP is a randomly chosen member of the SWAT team. Members of the SWAT team must keep the VIP alive and safe while trying to ultimately reach the roof of the building for extraction. The suspects, on the other hand, are the criminals and need to find and capture the VIP and hold him hostage for two minutes. If the VIP is killed by the suspects then the SWAT team wins, but if the VIP is killed by the SWAT team then the suspects win. You can just imagine that there’s a lot of accidental killings of the VIP going on.

This is a great type of multiplayer, but its got some flaws within it. For one, maybe the rules need to be laid out clearer for most players, because it seems as if most players don’t know what they’re doing. For example, when most players become the VIP, they go throughout the level acting just like they were another member of SWAT. You obviously can’t play that way considering the fact that the VIP gets only a small handgun and about ten bullets. Especially when you consider that the suspects, and SWAT members, respawn after a few seconds there’s no way that the VIP is going to be killing a whole lot of people. The game also has a lot of friendly fire going on, and it would seem as if most suspects just shoot straight at the VIP as if he was the biggest threat around.

Putting some of those grudges aside, SWAT 4’s multiplayer can be rather enjoyable. The game is filled with all types of authentic weaponry that you can select at loadout which can include anything from assault rifles, submachine guns, shotguns, flashbangs, smoke grenades, and even stun guns. Both sides can also carry light or heavy armor as well as a helmet or gas mask. Depending on whether you’re wearing light or heavy armor, it does seem to affect your movement speed. So wearing light armor may make you move a little faster but not by much.

This brings us to the slow gameplay portion of the game. Any SWAT member in real life would obviously move slow during a mission, but do they really move as slow as snails? When you’re walking in SWAT 4 you move extremely slow. You can also run, but doing so doesn’t even make you go much faster at all. This will no doubt probably push most gamers away as they’ll be too impatient to practically crawl through the levels. Hopefully the speed is kicked up a notch in the final game.

In order to fully win a multiplayer round under VIP Rescue you must communicate with your squadmates to arrange some type of tactics. Well, chances are you probably won’t even get far since the VIP will keep getting killed early, but if you do then you need to act as a team. However, this is hard to do when the game lacks any type of voice communication. Not everyone has enough time to type on their keyboard when they’re in the middle of a firefight in order to talk to a teammate. So there really is no communication within the teams while the game is in play. It’s a shame to see this since this game should be all about teamwork. Hopefully the final version will see some voice communication.

Visually the graphics are gorgeous. They really bring out the gritty urban feel of the game. It’s really great to see developer Irrational Games building upon the Unreal engine and making it better than it has ever been. Although they do have a lot of experience with it since it was last cast in their title last year, Tribes: Vengeance. We can’t wait to see the full potential of the graphics in single-player.

So far SWAT 4’s multiplayer is shaping up to be quite fun. Keep in mind that the full game will have more gameplay modes besides the somewhat annoying VIP Rescue mode. Also the single-player campaign will no doubt be the highlight of the game itself. You can bet that we’ll have a full review for SWAT 4 when its finally released which is currently scheduled for April 5, 2005.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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