I don’t know what it is about bringing the pain to international terrorists that makes gamers smile. It’s something universal that actually transcends borders and boundaries, even before Sept. 11, 2001. That’s what SWAT: Global Strike Team is all about, hunting down the bad guys and cuffing them like the dogs they are. If they resist your warning shouts and shots, then a fully-loaded shotgun can speak just fine.
SWAT puts you in command of an elite team of supercops and through 21 missions you hurt terrorists in ever escalating scenarios. You start off just rescuing hostages, but later missions start getting longer and more explosives have to be defused. There are also a set number of special terrorists you have to capture and cuff as fast as you can in order to earn upgrade points for your weapons. But the real fun is going back to each mission (you can play any mission you want however many times you want) and seeing if you can do better with different tactics. I’ve rushed into rooms, I’ve thrown a flash bang grenade (note: don’t throw one of these and have your nightvision goggles on) then charged in and arrested everyone, and every time it’s been a blast.The game may be fun, but it’s an ugly kind of fun. Now, I don’t know if the designers were going for a specific look or not but what they made sure ain’t pretty. The graphics are bland to say the least, with character models resembling those from five years ago. The Xbox may not be as powerful as current top of the line PCs are, but designers can still get really stellar results. If the developers were just focusing on the environments, then they could have made these look less washed out and more lived in. The buildings and offices all reminded me of “Oni” because everything was so drab and empty. Sure, there were the right amount of computers, chairs, and tables, but there was no tangible feeling to anything. The chatter of the cops, the gunshots, and the sounds of guns smacking against bad guys are all pitch perfect. I really liked the mission where a subway train runs underneath you as you move and the rumbling it causes sounds great. Overall, the sound quality here is top-notch, but the in-game music neither enhances nor hurts play as it is just in the background. The music frequently gets lost in the noise of combat and in-game mission briefings, and as such is barely noticeable. The more I played, though, the more I wished I had a headset so I could verbally issue commands to my squadmates (a feature the game supports) because this would have increased the immersion factor dramatically. The controls are really easy to pick up which is really handy in the hectic close-quarters situations SWAT throws at you. You use the left trigger to throw a grenade (flash bangs rule), the right trigger to fire your gun, the Y button to switch between lethal and non-lethal weaponry, the B button to perform a melee attack, the A button to activate something or to reload your gun, and the X button to shout orders at suspects. The directional pad issues orders to your squadmates, such as Follow Me, Secure, Open, Breach Door, and so forth. This is very easy to use if you’re familiar with squad-base combat games (“Brute Force” comes to mind) and if you’re not it’s still easy to pick up. There is a lot of fun to be had with SWAT as the combat is both fast and furious, the variety of tactics you can employ per mission offers tons of replayability, and the in-game voice communication and Live support means you and your friends can have an evening of fun stalking bad guys. I also liked how your performance would be seriously knocked on the harder difficulty levels if you just went in guns blazing. This is a thinking-man’s game and that’s where a lot of the charm comes from. At the weapons screen, you’ve got a variety of lethal and non-lethal weapons to choose from, and whether you decide to take someone down with a tranquilizer or a shotgun blast will have repercussions on your post-mission evaluation. The higher the grade and the more medals you can accrue, the better for you. So while you may want to smoke every terrorist you see, the real police forces don’t do that so neither can you. Think before you go charging into a room, and you’ll come out the better for it. Remember that a flash bang grenade is your friend, not theirs. SWAT: Global Strike Force is a lot of fun if you can get past the bland graphics. Gameplay is key and it’s strong here. I would probably rank this higher if I had Live in my place, but since I don’t I’m unable to score the multiplayer component. But I can see the missions lending themselves quite well to multiplayer, and there are several other deathmatch maps available in-game and for download, thus extending the shelf life for many moons.