SWAT 4 Gold Edition

Don’t taze me, bro…

Some tactical shooters pride themselves for their "scorched earth" approach to commando tactics. Welcome to a shooter that rewards you for NOT killing people.

People who’ve played this one are probably scratching their heads at the inclusion of this one. You cannot alter the AI, you do not get health packs, and you cannot make the shooting mechanics any easier with gameplay settings. How could this possibly appeal to a casual gamer? Simply put, it’s the only one here with what I call an "Easy Button".

By selecting the "Easy" difficulty setting, you literally could shoot everyone — handcuffed civilians included — and still progress in the Career mode to the next mission. Luckily, you won’t have to do that, but this game has some interesting gameplay aspects that anyone can have fun with it, even the casual commando.


SWAT 4 is the most realistic police shooter out there. That’s not saying much, because there aren’t many. It’s predecessor, SWAT 3 was one of the most innovative games ever devised as it ushered in "shift-on-the-fly" commands to your AI squadmates and fully expected them to handle themselves when someone got stupid and started shooting. The latest version brings sniper support, all kinds of new toys and does it all with a heavily modified version of the Unreal 2 Engine. From what I’ve read, SWAT 4 was actually a training tool used by Ken Levine to teach Irrational Games how to develop games using the Unreal engine in preparation for the eventual release of Bioshock. I think even the Big Daddies would take a look at your assembled power and say, "Oh, hell, no".

SWAT 4 took the inroads that its older brethren made and gave it even more teeth. You can now deal out unspeakable acts of violence to bring order to chaos with enough toys that I sometimes wonder about the mental faculties of anyone who thinks that taking on a modern police department’s SWAT team is a good idea. They have tools that will make you wish you were never born.

Got a locked door? Pick it, or better yet, blow the sonofa#@$% to smithereens using a door breaching charge and toss in a stinger grenade for good measure, so that anyone inside knows, "he who laughs last probably shot first". Taser the crap out of people resisting arrest, shoot them with a paint pellet gun loaded with pepperball ammunition, blow them away with your sniper, choke them to death with CS gas, hell, by the time you’re done, you half expect the enemy AI to just throw down their guns and scream "SCREW IT!! CUFF ME, FOR GOD’S SAKE!!!" There’s all kinds of stuff in this game to make your inner child giggle with glee as you pull the wings off a wasp and then bake him with a magnifying glass.

The best part of all is that even though there are only set number of maps and scenarios, the dynamic AI placement insures that no two missions will EVER play out the same, giving you literally endless replayable value. If I haven’t said it yet, I’ll say it now: SWAT 4 represents the best value for your gaming dollar.

SWAT 4 Gold Edition - What Works for the Casual Gamer

As I said before, you have the Easy set of skill rules which enables the player to make all sorts of stupid mistakes that would get a REAL member of police tac team fired and imprisoned. You can pretty much shoot, zap, cuff and practically curb-stomp the stuffing out of whatever moron is stupid enough to reach for his gun. You understand after a while why people simply throw their keys out of the car window when pulled over by the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department.


Your greatest asset to mission completion is the friendly AI. These Dobermans might be on a leash (the first function of the SWAT officer is to arrest, not kill everyone in sight, gunplay is the last resort) but it’s a thin one. They take people down with vicious authority and unerring accuracy. Use them, because they make your missions go much easier. Learn the value of door wedges, too. You can bottle people up and keep them contained in one area, giving them no safe place to run away. Yes, you cannot alter damage values and once injured, you do not heal and it affects your speed and accuracy, but these guys make the difference. The AI is good at what it does and I’ve rarely seen it make a mistake.

SWAT 4 Gold Edition - What Doesn’t Work for the Casual Gamer

There is this little-known file in the one of the data folders called "Leadership.cfg", and you can modify it to reduce the points taken away when you do things like use unauthorized force and so on.

Sometimes, SWAT 4 will penalize you for unauthorized use of force when realistically, you had no choice. This is somewhat disconcerting, especially is you change from the Easy skill level to a harder one. It will not allow you to progress because you didn’t make a high enough score.

By reducing the points taken away, you can still play at harder skill levels and progress through the career path.

I was told this was unofficially called "The Chicago PD Mod", but I’m not sure how true that is.

SWAT 4 Gold Edition Pros

  • Excellent voice acting.
  • Graphics are dated, but very convincing.
  • So many toys to choose from…
  • Dynamic AI placement gives endless replay value.
  • Phenomenal (and convincing) ballistics model.
  • Audio is first-rate.

SWAT 4 Gold Edition Cons

  • Can’t change damage values.
  • Default values for mistakes are too costly and must be modded for the casual gamer (which isn’t a problem).
  • No Xbox 360 controller support (not a big issue, but it would be cool).
Back to Page 1

Privacy Statement | SimHQ Staff

Copyright 1997-2010, SimHQ Inc. All Rights Reserved.