SWAT 3: Elite Edition Review
By Daniel Kershaw |
Last year Sierra released SWAT 3: Close Quarters Battle to much praise from both the press and players alike. As one of a handful of realistic shooters, it rivaled Rogue Spear in terms of quality, playability, and just plain entertainment. Unfortunately, the design team couldn't get the network code ready for the release of the game last fall, so there was no multiplay action to be had. However, even before the release of the game, Sierra promised that SWAT 3 fans would get their multiplayer fix...and with SWAT 3: Elite Edition, that promise has been fulfilled.
Since we've already told you what we think about SWAT 3: Close Quarters Battle, I'm not going to review the entire game again. Just read the original review for that. The Elite Edition is, for the most part, the same game...only with a few tweaks.
The biggest addition is, of course, the added multiplay component. SWAT 3 was just screaming for multiplay from the start, and now it's in there. You can play any of the 21 maps in Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Last Man Standing, or Co-Op modes. The favorite around the office is by far Co-Op, where up to five players can jump into the combat boots of the elite SWAT team. It's great to all be in the same room when you're playing so you can coordinate effective group attacks.
While LAN games around the office are naturally low on lag, the network code seems to do fine in Internet games as well. I haven't had any problems with stability as of yet, and I haven't experienced any major problems with lag either. And because of the already established SWAT 3 community, there are already a lot of SWAT 3 servers, so you never have to search long for a game once you log in.
Being a squad-based game, successful team coordination is extremely important in SWAT 3. And while it's great to be able to talk directly to your other teammates, Sierra has done all they can to make effective communication in remote play as easy as possible. One of these is the addition of red waypoint lines which mark the path your element leader has assigned you. This makes remote teamplay much more effective than simply listening for commands as you can see exactly where the leader wants you to set up position, or which door to "bang and clear." You can also enter a custom chat and type direct commands or use any of the various voice devices available now to give voice commands to your team via the 'net.
Overall the multiplayer experience is a much needed and impressive addition to SWAT 3, but the Elite Edition also adds a number of new tidbits to the single-player game. Most notably are the new missions. Elite Edition comes with five new maps: Chang's Theater, the LA Metro, a hospital, a house in the LA hills, and a small commuter airport. While the maps are small compared to some of the larger levels from Close Quarters Battle, they retain the same high quality and realism of the original missions, and I'm particularly a big fan of Chang's Chinese Theater, which is loosely based on Mann's Chinese Theater in LA. In addition to the new levels, there are a slew of new minor gameplay enhancements such as variable item toss strength, weapon weight, a convenient mod overlay front end, and a ton of new reticles, armor types, camo variations, and weapons. Plus there's also a full editor that allows you to build your own missions, skins, and insert custom .wav files for your troopers. Hey all you level builders out there--I expect to be playing some of your creations over the next few weeks, so get cracking.
Perhaps the best thing about the Elite Edition is that all of these upgrades are completely free to SWAT 3: Close Quarters Battle owners. All you have to do is spend some time online downloading the patch. Plus it looks as if Sierra is committed to supporting this product for a long, long time. They've already released a few free missions for users to download.
While overall the Elite Edition is a superb upgrade, SWAT 3: EE is still plagued by the problems found in Close Quarters Battle, namely sticky controls, choppy performance on slower systems, and some AI problems. We also ran into an odd bug that made it so Dan couldn't shoot anyone on the Metro level, but that was actually a good thing since he's the one most likely to shoot you in the back in the middle of a Co-Op mission.
In the end, I can't say enough good things about SWAT 3: Elite Edition. It's got everything to keep gamers happy for the long haul and it's just what the doctor ordered for SWAT 3. If you like realistic shooters and haven't played SWAT 3 yet, you owe it to yourself to pick up Elite Edition. And if you're already a fan of SWAT 3, what are you doing reading this review? Get on with the downloading, fool!
-- Tal Blevins
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