by Guest Writer Chuck “Magnum MGG” Ankenbauer
The regular visitors to SimHQ are a special breed of gamer in my opinion. We’re hard-core, not hard-core in the since that we play computer games more hours per day then work and sleep combined, but that were different from the casual gamer. The casual gamer wants quick and fun game play action while we “hard-core” gamers want our computer games to be as close in equipment, deployment, and tactics as possible to the real world counter part. What I learned preparing this review is that though we strive to have as much realism as possible in our games, they’re just games and realism must be balanced with game play. In Irrational Games newly released SWAT 4 computer game, that’s just what you get. You get a taste of just what a SWAT element does in their real life jobs but at an extreme. It’s to add the needed game play elements mentioned earlier. I said to myself a lot while playing through the single player campaign (three times on three different difficulties), “Yep, that’s just how we do it”, and also “If real world SWAT was this hard, no one would do it.”
Settings and Interface
SWAT 4 comes on two disks, each in there own paper sleeve. Haven’t these game companies learned yet… if you require the CD in the drive to play, then at least give us a nice protective plastic game case. The serial key is also on one of the sleeves, yet again, this should be on the hard case sleeve or printed in the annual cover. Speaking of the manual, you get the typical 38 page manual designed to fit in the box, but to Irrational Games credit, it contains everything you need to know to play the game, including a default key chart on the back page. SWAT 4, just like its predecessor SWAT 3, is a very easy game to learn, but difficult to master.
You get your typical screen resolutions to pick from, 800×600 through 1600×1200, and four levels of visuals from low to very high. You can reprogram your keyboard commands and you get to pick between 4 types of in-game interface control. One being the old SWAT 3 way, where you use a number menu and sub-menu system, (which comes in handy when you use a voice recognition program for added realism.) You also get to pick between three similar graphic interface command systems. Which is very well done, and easy to learn, and after just a couple of missions it becomes second nature to use. I do wish they had a “cancel” order. There were a few times I accidentally ordered my element to do something stupid, and wanted to cancel. You can give a different order to override the old, but you better be fast at it.
The options are there also to adjust three separate sound types: music, game, and voices. I played once with music enabled just for this review, but I prefer turning off music in all my games for added realism and it helps to hear my fellow gamers on TeamSpeak.