Police Quest: SWAT 2
|Editor Rating:||7/10, based on 1 review|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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This is the latest in a long line of Police Quest games, and the second version of SWAT - short for Special Weapons And Tactics - police simulation. To earn its number two tag, it's gone from turn-based to real-time, and gives you the chance to play the bad guys as well as the LAPD's elite task force. First off, you select your team, either officers or terrorists, equip them with your choice of weapons and equipment, and then leap into the first two training missions. Once they are out of the way, the full campaign of 13 further missions on each side starts to unfold. The unscripted AI controlling both sides means they play slightly differently every time, but it has a few problems.
All the later missions are cleverly put together, and some are a real challenge, despite occasional strange behaviour by non-player characters. Other missions aren't: I accidentally left mission seven running for five minutes and returned to find I'd almost completed it without any instructions whatsoever. Okay, the score was only mediocre, but the bad guys had come running out and the police had shot them. Bang. End of story. The real-time engine is only average, and the graphics are disappointing. Most characters have only two positions - kneeling or standing - and their size means you can't really tell what you're up against. A man standing there looking vacant and unarmed can suddenly produce a shotgun and start firing.
Your men return fire if attacked but they won't do much else. This leads to silly situations where, for example, five heavily armed cops can watch a suspect wander around a room and disappear out through a door.
If you've got a dozen officers sealing off the area and a couple of assault teams in a building, it can get to be too much - events happen too quickly for you to react as you'd like.
On the plus side, the initiate button enables you to give orders to all your teams and have them wait for you to signal a move. This means you can co-ordinate your team better than in any other real-time game I've seen.
Can't Shoot, Won T Shoot
SWAT2 is certainly a big leap forward, and if you're into chesslike strategy and the softly-softly approach you'll love it. It's pretty realistic, with a good manual, and it even includes strategic tips for each mission. Resist looking at them, however, because they can spoil the game.
Unfortunately, the restrictions placed on the police officers' behaviour won't appeal to the blood-and-guts brigade. As a law enforcement officer you've got to preserve life and play by the book, and only shoot if threatened. Even if you play as a terrorist, random shootings or gun battles with the Old Bill earn you little. It's a bit like playing Commandos in a straitjacket - you want to kick ass but you can't because you'll never make the next mission.
Both sides have a wonderful array of weapons, but the SWAT team's rules of engagement take away any real excitement. In SWAT2 you've got to be a boring bugger and do it right. It might be realistic and well put-together, but it's just a bit dull. Games like Commandos or X-COM 3: Apocalypse let you do what you like - sneak around or go in with both barrels blazing, whatever your choice. I mean, what would you rather do - say LAPD! You're under arrest! or waste the sod? Answers on a postcard.