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Apocalypse Then- SWAT 3: Close Quarters Battle

10 Years of SWAT 3

On this day in gaming, November 23rd, in 1999, SWAT 3 was released for the PC.

The SWAT series branched off of the earlier Police Quest series by Sierra, with the first two being of the isometric 2D variety, like a strategy title similar in some ways to Command& Conquer. SWAT 3 was the first title in the series to implement FPS gameplay in what was referred to as a Tactical First-Person Shooter.

It was developed by Sierra Northwest and published by its parent company Sierra Entertainment. SWAT 3 came in 3 different releases, CQB (Close Quarters Battle), Elite Edition, and Tactical Game of the Year Edition. SWAT 3 was highly praised by reviewers and is reportedly the best selling SWAT game in the franchise, and comes closest to the success of the Police Quest series.

For me, it was likely my favourite in the series. I got the game back in 2000 and played it for months on end, over and over. I mainly prefer it to SWAT 4 because the buddy AI in 3 was better than 4, I found.

Needless to say, the game was based on Close Quarters Combat and brought several realistic things in to the gameplay after observing real-life LAPD SWAT teams in action, and the motion captured animation was provided by a SWAT officer.

There were originally 16 missions, but later more were added in the other editions, which could be downloaded for free, and these missions took place in Los Angeles, California in the (at the time) futuristic setting of 2005. The aim of the game is to thwart several attempts of multiple terrorist groups to disturb a Treaty Signing, and to save hostages along the way, and prevent the destruction of L.A.

Since it was set in the near future, there was some science fiction elements brought in to the game, like the fully enclosed helmets of the SWAT team, which in real life isn’t the case, but explains the player’s HUD (heads-up display). Another science fiction item were the opti-wand, a miniature camera on a telescopic wand, that could be slid under doors to monitor the situation. This opti-wand has also since been used in the Rainbow Six series, like in Rainbow Six: Vegas, a contemporary series.

Unlike Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six or Ghost Recon, even though the enemies are usually of the same type- terrorists and criminals of varying sort, in SWAT 3, you are essentially a police officer first before anything else, and part of a SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team as element leader. Use of deadly force must be used sparingly and usually only in defence, like if a suspect shoots at you, you may return fire and deadly force is then authorized. You can shoot suspects but you will be penalized if you don’t go through the usual routine, which includes approaching in stealth mode, having the element of surprise, and giving the suspects a chance to surrender, and be arrested, before attacking. You can go dynamic once encountering suspects and shout at them, shoot them with the less than lethal ammunition and other tactics in order to get compliance. SWAT is jokingly referred to by real life SWAT teams to stand for Sit, Wait, and Talk.

Shooting of hostages or otherwise important characters will result in an instant mission failure.

Weapons are few to choose from, with an M4A1 assault rifle, MP5 and MP5SD (silenced), and the Benelli M1 Super 90, as well as the standard sidearm, a modified Colt M1911 .45 pistol. Different types of ammo can be used like beanbags or breaching ammo for the shotgun, and FMJ or JHP ammo for the assault rifle and sub machineguns. Other tools like CS gas and flashbangs, multi-tools for lockpicking, chemical lightsticks, and breaching explosives can also be employed. An omission in this title would be the taser, later included in SWAT 4.

SWAT 3 was succeeded by SWAT 4 along with its expansion, The Stetchkov Syndicate, developed by Irrational Games, the co-developers of System Shock 2, and later BioShock.

You can pick up SWAT 3 here if you want to play a classic.

SWAT at Amazon



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