When Sierra Studios released SWAT 3: Close Quarters Battle last
year, it immediately rivalled Red Storm's Rainbow Six series in
terms of a quality first-person tactical shooter. It was an intense
and immersive gaming experience that featured solid, realistic AI
and impressive graphics. It was far from perfect though. For
starters, the documentation was horribly neglected, creating a
rather steep learning curve as potential officers had to basically
figure out commands and objectives by trial and error. The
interface was rigid, creating awkward moments on the battlefield,
and the weapon physics were suspect. Perhaps the most glaring
hitch in SWAT 3 was the lack of any multiplayer whatsoever. All
that's been taken care of though, as Sierra has released SWAT 3:
Elite Edition, an upgrade of sorts that not only addresses the minor
issues, but also adds multiplayer to an already enjoyable game.
To Sierra's credit, owners of the original SWAT 3 will be happy to
learn that they won't have to purchase a second SWAT 3 product.
Instead, you can surf on over to Sierra's website and download a
free 30-meg patch that will bring your version of SWAT 3 up to par
with the Elite Edition product. So what exactly has been enhanced
or added in this package?
To open with, the single-player experience has been tweaked
quite a bit. The inflexible controls and interface have been
upgraded to allow users to re-map the keyboard and mouse
controls. More importantly, you can allocate a single button or key
in order to lean to the left or right, resulting in the ability to peek
around corners without causing any commotion. The Elite Edition
also sports a new helmet-mounted display providing all sorts of
useful information pertaining to orders and commands assigned to
various squads. Weapon effects weigh a little heavier in combat
now. Each gun behaves a little differently depending upon their
weight, making it more challenging to aim and change targets.
Players can also now toggle the strength of throwing grenades and
lightsticks, allowing for better placement.
SWAT 3: Elite Edition also adds five new maps to the game: an
L.A. subway station, a hospital, a heavily guarded house in the
hills, Chang's theatre, and an airfield. These five new missions can
be played in both single-player and multiplayer. Which of course
brings us to the most significant addition to SWAT 3, multiplayer.
You can play any one of 22 maps in Deathmatch, Team
Deathmatch, Co-Op or Last Man Standing. Unfortunately, Elite
Edition only supports up to five players in one game, whereas its
counterpart, Rogue Spear, allows for up to 16 players. The inability
to play with more than 5 players keeps a lid on the potential for
team games, so you'll probably find yourself playing a lot of
Co-Op, which is by far the most intriguing of the multiplayer
modes. You'll also find that once a multiplayer mission comes to a
close, you'll get booted out of the game back to the server, where
you'll have to seek out the same players if you'd like to continue
playing with them. There's a lack of a control when it comes to
playing multiple games online.
With those gripes aside, the multiplayer experience is just as
intense as the single player component. There's nothing like
playing with a group of human players in Co-Op, rather than
putting your life in the hands of a computer-controlled trooper. It's
extremely simple to find servers using Sierra's internal browser
and while you might experience a few problems connecting
properly (a patch has been released which addresses this issue),
the actual gameplay is as smooth as a baby's bottom. You
shouldn't have any problems finding players either, the activity
level on the servers is quite high.
Last but not least, the mod community will be happy to know that
SWAT 3: Elite Edition also includes a set of development tools that
allows gamers to create their own missions, levels and player
skins. Like any set of tools, it's not the easiest utility to use, but
those who are dedicated to continuing the SWAT 3 experience will
undoubtedly enjoy it's inclusion.
When the smoke clears and the press shows up at the scene, this is
what SWAT 3 should have been a year ago. The addition of
multiplayer really adds a whole other dimension to the gaming
experience. The single-player has been tweaked nicely to address
some of the issues gamers had from the original. To top it off,
owners of the original SWAT 3 won't even have to shell out a
single penny to reap the benefits of the Elite Edition. Some might
say this upgrade came a little late, but better late than never.
[ 40/50 ] Gameplay
[ 07/10 ] Plotline
[ 09/10 ] Graphics
[ 08/10 ] Sounds
[ 09/10 ] Controls
[ 08/10 ] Bugs