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Interview: Going tactical with SWAT 4

We barely resist the urge to shout "Hut-Hut-Hut" as Vivendi dishes the dirt on the long-awaited PC sequel

SWAT 4 - nothing to do with smearing fly guts across your living room window but everything to do with police squad tactics, upholding the law and caressing authentic, kick ass firepower. Developed by Irrational Games, the sequel to the well-received SWAT 3: CQB unsurprisingly finds players in command of a squad of highly trained police officers and dishing out justice - making high-risk arrests, rescuing hostages and thwarting terrorism - in a concrete jungle filled with armed felons and innocent bystanders.

Irrational Games recently agreed to enter the C&VG interrogation room and, under a really, really bright spotlight, answered questions on the game.

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What are the main differences between SWAT 4 and previous games in the series especially SWAT 3?

Irrational: Overall it's completely different. The interface is new, obviously the missions are new... The goal was... SWAT 3 was a good game, but fell down on its interface and its player control and whilst its visuals were OK for the time they were still a little dated. The goal was to fix all of those things, the goal was to make a very intuitive, easy to use, well-defined user interface, which we actually did. It's context-sensitive, so it picks the most appropriate thing for the situation. But there may be times when you have to be more choosy.

For instance, when you come to a closed door you may actually want to bang and clear that door in case there are enemies on the other side or put an opti-wand under that door so you know the situation. Because as a default it'll just tell your guys to stack up and open that door. You're the team lead and you have to assess the risk or make sure you're not walking into an ambush.

It's a whole new engine, the visuals are different, the interface is different, the AI has been completely re-written.. Other than it's the SWAT franchise and it holds true to police tactical combat, everything is new from the ground up.

What type of player are you aiming SWAT 4 at - those into hardcore tactical videogames or gamers more into a terrorist/counter-terrorist experience with a heavy action-slant - like Counter-Strike, for example? Or somewhere in between?

Irrational: We're definitely going after the original SWAT players, the game is still core enough to please them. But I think at the same time, the last SWAT game was released in 1999... The Clancy tactical shooters... SWAT was really the only tactical shooter in the day. Tactical shooters are now a fully fleshed-out genre, with Counter-Strike, the Rainbow Six series, the Ghost Recon series. We're going after the player that's looking for... We're the only police simulation/game, so we're going after anyone that's after that game experience.

Zoom

We're going after the original SWAT players and then again we're actually going after any players that actually enjoy the more tactical elements of shooters more than just the run and gun elements of shooters. Our core demographic is the tactical shooter players, whether that player's playing Counter-Strike or whether that player's playing Rainbow Six. That's our guy.

In your opinion, what are the major differences between your product and those Ubisoft franchises you've just mentioned?

Irrational: The biggest difference is compliance over killing. Because it's a police tactical shooter compliance to force the enemy to comply. Your goal is to arrest them, not to kill them, whereas in the Clancy games the goal is to kill them. So the biggest difference is compliance.

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