Clickable Culture   Official Research Blog of Phantom Compass
  Challenging The Itchy Trigger-Finger  
Posted 2006-04-13 by Tony Walsh
Fellow games writer Andrew Smale explains to readers of The Cultural Gutter how SWAT 4 teaches the value of human life. In a game ostensibly about violence, SWAT 4 emphasizes responsible decision-making under the constant threat of violence. It is a policing game, not a war game, after all.

Smale writes: "SWAT 4 rewards players for neutralizing threats, rescuing any innocents, and securing evidence (mostly dropped weapons) with a numerical score at the end of each mission....Killing a suspect that has already dropped his weapon will lose you points, as will failure to report a downed squadmate. Depending on the difficulty level, you won’t be able to proceed to the next mission unless you get the required score...When killing isn’t an option anymore, it causes you to second-guess yourself. Did that guy have a gun? Was he a threat? Sometimes an itchy trigger finger takes out a hostile that’s about to lay down his weapon - and that’s an unauthorized kill."

In a world oversaturated with bloody First Person Shooter games, SWAT 4 seems like a refreshing take on action-based game play. I'd consider buying it if the game hadn't been given the 2005 award for "Most Despicable Product Placement" by (related post here), thanks to another lame effort (1,2) by in-game ad pushers Massive Incorporated.
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Comment posted by gatmog
April 13, 2006 @ 3:45 pm
While I share your disdain for Massive, itís a shame youíre not willing to give the game a try. There is a real sense of satisfaction for successfully completing a mission, because it always requires thought, and not simply your ability to handle a machine gun. The custom scenario generator (using the gameís campaign maps) adds a certain amount of replayability for developing decision making skills in the heat of the action.

It was a bit tacky for ads to be inserted in one of SWAT 4ís patches that was released last year (and automatically installed with the expansion), but I canít say that it bothers me that much. Every single environment the missions take place in is modeled after real-world locations that would make sense to have them. For example, an office building would likely have a coke machine and an arcade would probably have a few movie posters hanging on the walls. The same can be said of Splinter Cell, which was also referenced in the Wired article you linked to.

Your cited examples of Planetside and Anarchy Online are justifiable sore points, as who is to say those brands even exist in the future? But to have an influential website like Gamespot hate on a game that has so much to offer the genre just because it has a few background product placements seems like itís trying too hard to fight this growing trend. There are games on their list that are much more deserving of this dubious honor. They should be spending their time writing better reviews.

Nobody ever complained this much when the yearly sports game roster updates suddenly came with stadiums plastered with advertisements.
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