SWAT 3: Close Quarters Battle: Elite Edition
With our insatiable appetite still hungering for yet more real-world action, Sierra is poised to release SWAT 3: Close Quarters Battle - Elite Edition. You may remember that the original game had no multiplayer options and, with both Counter-Strike and Rogue Spear still extremely popular online, Sierra saw fit to upgrade its single-player classic to include some new online options.
Originally the multiplayer component was to be released as a mid-price expansion pack, but then we were told it would be included as a part of a special edition game including the original. Thankfully, those who already own the game will be able to download all the new Elite Edition components - including map and scenario editors - at no extra cost.
Game modes will include regular deathmatch, co-op game, teamplay, last man standing, hostage rescue and others. Al-controlled hostages and civilians will react in a more convincing and independent manner than in the previous game - running from terrorists, for example. There will be more than 20 new weapons to add to SWAT 3's already impressive arsenal, with a number of new weapon configurations for each. New sounds for each weapon have also been recorded and players will be able to configure the look of their characters by choosing from a number of body types, helmets and camo-skins.
Download SWAT 3: Close Quarters Battle: Elite Edition
It was Canadian prog' rock trio Rush who first sang "You don't get something for nothing. You can't get freedom for free. You won't get wise with the sleep still in your eyes no matter what your dreams might be." I know analysing Rush lyrics is sad, but these were wise words at the time, especially if you were off your box on acid, but little did they realise 25 years on those words would come back to haunt them. As many of us who use the Internet will attest, you do get a lot for nothing and with little or no effort - particularly if you're a games journalist. The Elite Edition upgrade for last year's SMW3is the latest freebie to come our way and, being predominantly aimed at the multiplayer and riding on the success of Counter-Strike, a timely one it is too.
After spending the last six months, every lunch hour and countless days playing Counter-Strike, we can't help but compare SWAT 3s multiplayer add-on against it. And if we'd have put both games in a hostage situation and given each a weapon, Counter-Strike wouldn't win on technicalities, but it would on artistic impression.
Being very much a simulation, SWM 3 among human players is a far less forgiving game than Counter-Strike or even Rogue Spear. For one thing, only a handful of players can partake, which means the mistakes of those less indoctrinated into the ways of counter-terrorism are amplified tenfold. As a team vs team game, set across tense, tight maps, to the beginner it feels more like a harsh training session, with every wrong step having terminal consequences.
It certainly isn't a fast-paced game. Sneaking around is the order of the day, and if you felt Counter-Strike was a little slow, you'd probably wake up in a pool of blood, head caved in across the spacebar, after playing a few rounds of SWAT3 online.
SWAT 3 really comes into its own as a cooperative game. Each of the original missions, plus a few new ones (available for free download) can each be played with humans against Al-bot terrorists - and, when you play with people that you know, the game is tense and gratifying in the extreme. Just as with real life and heavily armed police squads, it's . the teams who know each other that survive to fight another day. SWAT 3 also scores highly in its ability to communicate with other players. We always found even in single-player games SWAT command system worked better than most, and in multiplayer games the system has been transferred with great success and will do very nicely until real-time voice chat becomes standard.