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SWAT 4: The Stetchkov Syndicate Review

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  • SWAT 4: The Stetchkov Syndicate Review

    SWAT 4: The Stetchkov Syndicate Review
    By: Chuck “Magnum” Ankenbauer


    Last year, Sierra/Vivendi Universal released SWAT 4, the much anticipated follow up to the much loved and respected SWAT 3. I did a preview and a review (for SimHQ) of SWAT 4 and gave it very high marks in almost every category. There were only a few minor complaints I had about the game. In my opinion SWAT 4 is one of the greatest, most realistic, and most tactical computer games I have ever played.

    I was happy to hear about the expansion pack, and now it has been released and I’ve spent more then two weeks playing every aspect of the game. I’ve completed the single player campaign twice, and experimented and tested all the different multiplayer modes, but most of all I have played a lot of cooperative play, my favorite mode.

    The Stetchkov Syndicate

    Here’s the official take,

    “Your team's got powerful new weapons and equipment. You're gonna need them. The Stetchkov Syndicate is putting big guns in the wrong hands. But now you’ve got bigger guns in yours - along with upgraded equipment. Real-time voice communication tightens coordination in multiplayer. Co-op multiplayer teams can now be up to 10-players. Whether you’re online or on your own in single-player, you must employ all the SWAT® tactics you know to bring down this deadly new menace.”

    What that means is that they tried to incorporate a story into the add-on, kind of like they did for SWAT 3.

    I for one understand the purpose or idea, but disagree from a SWAT tactical stand point. SWAT responds to calls when the road patrol police get into deep water. They respond to barricaded subjects; they respond to snipers, they respond to hostage takings, and many other high threat situations. But rarely are these crimes connected, sure there might be the same bad guy involved in two or more situations, but the chance of a “crime syndicate” where SWAT needs to constantly respond is unlikely.

    That being said, luckily the story doesn’t interfere with the game play, and if you don’t read the briefing, you would really never know of the “story”.

    Maps and Missions:

    You get a whopping 7 new maps/missions with the add-on, and yes, I’m being sarcastic. This to me is a big disappointment, why? Because SWAT responds to calls, and though the tactics and procedures are usually the same, the locations rarely are.

    For a proper add-on, I would have said no less then 20 new maps/missions in my opinion.

    Heck, the H.S.M.E. v2.0 map pack contained more then double the number of maps then this official add-on, and all very well done I might add.

    Weapons and Toys:

    You get a handful of new weapons and some useful, (and useless toys).

    There are four primary weapons:

    1.) A 5.7x28mm Submachine gun, which is really an unofficial P90.
    2.) A Colt Accurized Rifle, which is an assault rifle with a suppressor.
    3.) A 5.56mm Light Machinegun, this looks similar to the M249 SAW machinegun.
    4.) 40x46mm Grenade Launcher.

    Three new secondary weapons:

    1.) Cobra Stun Gun fires four darts and can be used as a melee attack.
    2.) A 9mm Machine Pistol, which looks and fires like an UZI or Mac10.
    3.) A mark 19 .50caliber pistol, guess the others weren’t strong enough for police work.

    You also get some new tactical gear, like an ammo pouch and light sticks, which was requested because of its popularity in SWAT 3.

    You also have new protective equipment like night vision goggles, and an option of no armor to let you move faster and hopefully fire a little quicker and straighter.

    All are nice toys, but some have no place in SWAT. Some were put in just for multiplayers like the machinegun and sniper type rifle. I applaud Irrational Games/Havok (the ladder making the expansion I believe) for adding them, but once again I personally feel that some are not needed in this type of game.

    Especially if you want realism.

    New Features:

    The best new feature, single player related, is the ability to give orders to your AI team and have them hold that command until you give an “initiate” command. This comes in handy when you want to enter the same room from two different directions.

    You get a new multiplayer mode called, “Smash and Grab” which is kind of like capture the flag, but instead it’s a suitcase.

    You get a new co-op quick mission maker, which just takes one of the default maps and makes a new basic mission out of it.

    You also get a lot of multiplayer server options and tools like Arrest time deductions, additional respawn time, and a new co-op leader.

    Cooperative play has been adjusted with much requested improvements. For instance now you can vote on one leader, and only he can give orders. You can vote kick players out of the server, and you can also vote to change the map while in game.


    The SWAT 4 add-on brought a lot of what gamers were asking for, some at the cost of realism. I thank the developers for this add-on, because it is well worth the 20 bucks, but I can’t help to think that there are at least three modifications for SWAT 4 out in cyber space that give just as much, if not more then this official add-on.

    This add-on appears to be geared for the multiplayer community. Sure, it has a 7 mission single player campaign, and a few extra command and control features but most of the add-on is for multiplayer.

    The missions are harder, the bad guys badder, and the maps bigger but I noticed the AI seemed to get a little dumber.

    I don’t claim that the developers dumbed down the AI, but I don’t think the default AI is up to task on the newer hard maps. More then once a team would call a room clear, I would walk in and a bad guy would pop out behind a door, not clear. More then once I would witness a bad guy pointing an AK47 in an AI officers face; meanwhile the AI officer is ordering him to drop the weapon, nope. Trigger pulled, officer down. The use of force policy is still ridiculous and unreasonable.

    Understand that the idiot AI isn’t that bad, it’s not perfect but at least it isn’t the same AI as showcased in Lockdown. SWAT 4 is still playable, Lockdown, due to the AI, is not.

    The new multiplayer mode is fun, but where SWAT 4 still shines is the online cooperative mode. The number of officers has been bumped up from 5 to 10, and you will need that many with the new, larger maps. The new voting and command features are great and a real welcome. The new weapons are good for your other game modes but co-op really don’t benefit from too many of the new weapons and toys. The light sticks are nice, but with the new SWAT 4 bad guy AI, they get up and move, flee, or hide in other rooms so they really have no use except to remind the player where he’s been.

    I tested the VOIP feature included in the add-on and too me it seemed a little to low in volume compared to the rest of the game. I still stick with our Tactical Gamer team speak when multiplaying, but glad they added it in anyway for those who want it.

    I was disappointed to see they didn’t get the picture about in game ads, there still there on multiplayer servers, (and can still be blocked.) But look on the bright side, at least there’s no StarForce.


    If you have SWAT 4, then spend the extra 20 for the add-on, the improvements and special features are just too great to pass up. But if you’re tight, and 20 bucks is a lot of money to you, then just go download one of the popular SWAT 4 mods that add most of everything the official add-on does. This add-on will get boring after a while just like the original game did because of the lack of maps, so you map makers keep them coming. We need more. The more new and unknown maps, the better and longer this game will last.

    Also, a gold edition is said to be in stores at the beginning of April, for you slackers who still haven't experienced what a true tactical shooter is.

    Enjoy the game; see you on the mean streets.

    For extra credit:
    Last edited by Mateo; 03-14-2006, 10:27 PM.
    Magnum |TG-18th|

    We stand between chaos and order, evil and good, despair and hope - we are the Thin Blue Line, and we will never be broken.

  • #2
    Picked this up last night. Am looking forward to installing it and giving her a whirl!
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    • #3
      Re: SWAT 4: The Stetchkov Syndicate Review

      I should meantion... maybe I did, that a gold edition with the original and add-on is coming 4/4.
      Magnum |TG-18th|

      We stand between chaos and order, evil and good, despair and hope - we are the Thin Blue Line, and we will never be broken.


      • #4
        Re: SWAT 4: The Stetchkov Syndicate Review

        Nice review Magnum. Ill be picking the gold edition up as soon as it is released. I think this may be the 4th game club entry.


        • #5
          Re: SWAT 4: The Stetchkov Syndicate Review

          Given the type of gamers that the club tends to bring together, I think that SWAT4 would be a perfect 4th game.


          • #6
            Re: SWAT 4: The Stetchkov Syndicate Review

            Very impressive review.

            I have the original SWAT 4 and will most likely be picking up this expansion soon. Hopefully the community will field a few interested players for some realistic co-op...(led by magnum of course!)


            • #7
              Re: SWAT 4: The Stetchkov Syndicate Review

              You don't want me to lead... I've been told I'm to strict, lol... like a SWAT drill sergeant. ;)
              Magnum |TG-18th|

              We stand between chaos and order, evil and good, despair and hope - we are the Thin Blue Line, and we will never be broken.


              • #8
                Re: SWAT 4: The Stetchkov Syndicate Review

                Originally posted by Magnum50
                You don't want me to lead... I've been told I'm too strict, lol... like a SWAT drill sergeant. ;)
                Actually, I think that would be the perfect type of lead for an old TGer like me.

                ...please allow me a short moment to digress...

                When I first joined TG, you had to submit an application to join. There was a very high standard on the types of players that the community wanted.

                I was a big Ghost Recon fan, and after reading all of the SOP's I finally joined in for some tense missions. On one of those missions, we selected a leader and he decided that we would go in quiet (silenced weapons), and he also gaved detailed (I had to write them down) instructions to all of the squads. Anyways, we inserted in and took a knee. The Team Leader walked up to two of the players and suddenly I heard supressed M4 fire ripping through the night air. Within seconds, two of my teamates lay dead at the hands of my Team Leader. I aimed my cross-hairs directly at his head and waited for him to point his weapon in my direction. I was shaking with fear. Has he gone mad? Do I dare take him out? His voice then crackled softly, and matter-of-factly through my earphones. "I told everyone to bring SD weapons, those two did not. I will not have them compromise our mission. Squads, you have your orders...MOVE OUT!"

                This is the way it was. There was no arguing about the incident over TS, there were no nasty forum posts about being TK'd. The players that had mistakenly brought the wrong weapons were embarassed that they had broken protocol.

                I am now a bit older and my game time is definitely at a premium. If I am busy stacking up on a doorway, and some player who is supposed to be watching our six lets a tango kill us all because he failed to do his job, it does become annoying.

                Strict leadership often instills a sense of dedication and, moreover, responsibility in a group of players. I always hope a leader will tell me which hallway to cover (or direction) and trust me to carry out the order. Strong leaders are what causes a group of players just goofing around to transform into a cohesive group that can rely on one another to do the best job possible.

                In short, TG has always had strict leadership and I think your style would be appreciated by most of the older (membership-wise, not age) TG community.


                • #9
                  Re: SWAT 4: The Stetchkov Syndicate Review

                  I think either Magnum or En4cment would be the ideal leaders in this game. They have both the gaming and real world experience to make this quite a thrilling game.

                  In any case, the TG server was just upgraded with the new expansion. I'm really looking forward to some great games.
                  Diplomacy is the art of saying "good doggie" while looking for a bigger stick.




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