Irrational Games delayed this game in order to put in multiplayer, and thank heavens they did. SWAT 4’s cooperative multiplayer makes up for the single player AI issues I mentioned earlier. Co-op is the most fun in this whole game. If you have the right teammates that play the game the way it was meant to be played then there’s nothing better. I do all my multiplayer gaming with The Military Gaming Group; we are all current and ex-military so the group knows a little about real word warfare and tactics. We usually get together on a TeamSpeak channel for in-game communications, but SWAT 4 has the best in game, player on player, order menu I’ve seen. If you’re the man in charge then you have your graphic interaction menus set on the command menu. If you’re one of the workers, then a hit of the “tab” key will change your graphic interface menu to respond to commands. Another hit of the “tab” key brings you to a “more comments” type menu. So while you’re moving along, a simple right click of the mouse brings up the menu, and then a left click to give the order or report. Of course, you could just use an outside communications program like TeamSpeak to make it even easier.
The difficulty for multiplayer cooperative play is set on high, and I’m glad to report that my team regularly gets 90 to 100 points per mission, which tells me that people really still are smarter then artificial intelligence.
Granted, once in a while boys will be boys and someone will make a mistake early on and die. The next thing you know everyone’s starts goofing around and tries out the tazer or pepper ball gun on their fellow officers, which leads to someone pulling out the big guns and all end up virtually dead. But like I said, when played seriously and the way it was meant to be played, it’s the best fun that can be had online.
You also have three other options for multiplayer, one being a barricaded subject situation, which is really more or less just team death match; you have VIP escort and rapid deployment, which is 3 to 5 bombs scattered throughout the map. SWAT must find and unarmed them, while the bad guys guard them.
I or any of my fellow multiplayer testers haven’t had any lag issues at all, but we are all broadband, so I’m not sure how modems would work on this game. The only ones that have any connection problems are those with home networks with firewall issues. If you know how to open ports then you shouldn’t have connection problems. Irrational Games can’t be blamed for that. Multiplayer has been flawless for me.
Not only does SWAT 4 come with a nice single player campaign with 13 missions, and a great multiplayer component, but you also have a quick mission making tool where you can select any map, bad guys, hostages, add your team or go “lone wolf” and you’ll have a quick mission that you just made to play or share online.
If that’s not enough for you, in the SWAT 4 system sub-folder you have the SWAT editor, where you can make your own maps and your own detailed missions. Be warned that the editor is difficult and requires a serious learning curve to become competent at using it.
Mod support for SWAT 4 is somewhat of a disappointment compared to the excellent support that drove SWAT 3 for so long. In SWAT 3 you could activate and deactivate what mods you wanted to use. No such thing in SWAT 4. The only way to mod SWAT 4, so far, is to change system or game files which is always risky. There are already ingenious gamers out there that have made or discovered ways to play 10 person co-op, or small changes to enhance the game. Hopefully Irrational Games will smell the potential for this excellent game and in a future add-on (I’m guessing is sure to come along at some point), add all the tools needed to mod SWAT 4. And Irrational Games… while you’re at it… put my chemical light sticks back in. Some maps are so big in SWAT 4 that you never remember if you cleared a room or door, chemical lights, like the ones in SWAT 3 would have been appreciated.