What makes a game seem to have infinite replay value are the variables. All games have variables. That’s what makes them worth playing. But you might find that some have way more than others. For example, Uncharted 2 has variables in the way that my shooting success rate might vary, where I choose to go in the map might vary, my mood (aggressive or conservative) might vary and be reflected in my choices… but overall, when playing through the campaign it’s pretty much always the same experience. There are just a few options here and there to make it seem like more than watching an action movie. But games like SWAT 4 not only have everything that I mentioned in typical action games like Uncharted, but have a lot of variables in the way the experience is presented which keep it fresh nearly every time! These variables were built into the career mode to ensure a true concern for every corner and room in the map giving the player a more realistic feeling of nervousness. Examples of variables in SWAT 4 are:
– Enemy and hostage locations are randomly placed throughout the map and change every time you load the mission.
– Enemy and hostage “morale” (meaning how likely they are to submit to handcuffs) is different with each person, and changes every time you load the mission.
– Maps are set up in a way so that the player has a huge range of possible entry points and infiltration progressions.
– Doors in the map are randomly locked or unlocked. Locked doors require additional thought on how to proceed.
– You can choose your squad’s loadout – lethal or non-lethal weapons, which grenades they have, which (if any) tactical equipment they have (like door wedges)… all of which influence your mid-mission decision making.
– The enemy skill is randomized, so in a gunfight you don’t always know if your teammates are going to be completely unharmed, shot in the shoulder, or completely brought down.
All these things combined create a unlimited supply of unique experiences. I can play the same map for three hours straight and have a different experience every time (playing the map at least twenty times within that three hours). That’s an amazing thing to accomplish in a single-player mode of a game. That kind of unpredictability usually only shows up in multiplayer games. Variable combinations will undoubtedly show up in interesting ways too. Like, when hostages are in close proximity to suspects, the suspects might be more inclined to threaten to shoot the hostages rather than just start shooting your team. And in the game, reacting to these situations quickly is what makes it so fun. It’s up to the player think on their feet to diffuse these situations with the most minimal damage done. But things get out of hand easy, and it’s never in ways you can see coming.
Aside from the dynamicy of SWAT 4, it’s backed by a great concept, great interfaces, a great squad command system, and a great realism factor. It’s very thinky game, not just a fun shooting game. In fact, if things in the mission go all according to plan, you shouldn’t have to ever fire your weapon… But that usually doesn’t happen.
The main point is, it’s still fun after so much playing and all this time. I still have moments playing the custom missions (which take maps from the career, but let you choose the number of suspects and hostages, their weapons, their morale, and their skill) in which I’m thrilled, excited, surprised, and very nervous, and it usually leads to a laughing fit when all my guys get gunned down in one room due to a very strange culmination of variable factors. You never know what you are going to get playing this game, and that’s what makes SWAT 4 so great.
My rating for 2005’s SWAT 4 for PC is…