Reviewed on PC


Reviewed By: Rick Casteel

Computer Platform: PC
Produced by: Sierra
Price Range: $30-40
Learning curve time: 60-90 mins.
Age level: 16+
ESRB Rating: Mature
System Requirements: P266, 32-64 RAM, 400mg HD

Genre: Strategy/Action
Christian Rating: 4 of 5
   (slightly offensive)
Gameplay: 5 of 5
Violence: 3 of 5
Adult Content: 3 of 5

Box art from 'SWAT 3'Several years ago a game called “Rainbow Six” debuted on the gaming scene with a totally unique experience for gamers. The player was challenged to play as the leader of a 5-man, international, special forces, anti-terrorist squad. You played the game from a first person perspective, with a group of computer based teammates who are programmed to respond to your partially preplanned, partially real time commands. You would lead this team against terrorists in several scenarios attempting to free hostages or rescue political figures. “SWAT 3” utilizes this same, real-time, tactical, computer-generated-squad approach in the more domesticated setting of Los Angeles in the year 2005.

Screen shot from 'SWAT 3' I was very skeptical about this type of game play. It seemed overly complicated and I didn't sense the computer-controlled team would respond appropriately to my commands. Well now that I've tried it I'm hooked! “SWAT 3” has me addicted. There are so many life-like elements to this game that it's like being a cop. And its very serious stuff. As an element leader (an element is your team) you are responsible for the welfare of your team, hostages and the criminals you are trying to apprehend. Your score is a reflection of how you follow protocol and how your team respects you. These scores are built up in career mode where you progress through scenarios of varying complexity.

I have to admit to not completing the game yet. As you play, you start to realize that your team responds to you based on your level of respect and leadership ability. I had found that due to the fact I was a “rookie” at this game, my leadership and respect scores were low. As I played through the game some of my team ended up on injured reserve and others wouldn't follow all my commands. I resolved to start my career over when I shot one of my own team! We were in a building searching rooms and I saw some movement down the hall. I could see they had a gun so I called out to surrender. When there was no response, I shot at the figure only to have my own guys shoot at me as a rogue cop! My team had worked their way down the hall to the other end through adjoining rooms and was essentially waiting at the end of the hall for me. I have restarted my career and am determined to watch my targets and keep my guys alive!

This description gives you a sense of the care you must take as a squad leader. You have to search every room. In every room you have to determine whether it's clear or compromised. You have to decide how to approach every door and corner. Do you mirror the hall, toss a smoke bomb, send a team? Every decision will have its consequences. Each suspect and hostage must be cuffed and called in to the entry team. You must give every opportunity for gun wielding criminals to give up prior to shooting. This is not a fancy 1st person shooter but what you might call a “thinker”. It also encourages the gamer to exercise caution, promote safety and actually AVIOD shooting when possible. Each step must be calculated carefully and protocol followed. Miss a step; lose leadership points or worse a hostage or member of your team. In this respect, it is a very admirable game, discouraging the kind of "run & gun" found in many PC titles today.

The subject matter is serious and mature in nature. I think a young teen could play this with a parent to discuss the what's and why's of the situations presented in the game. There is shooting in the game and characters do bleed. There is an option to turn this off but I never found it excessive or gratuitous. There is some profanity but you almost don't notice it in the tension of game play. It usually occurs when you are arresting or exchanging gunfire with a suspect. There is no nudity, but some of the women are provocatively clothed. As an example, in the first scenario a suspect's girlfriend runs around in a towel until arrested.

"SWAT 3" displays an emblem on the cover that has the words "Uncompromised Duty and Honor". Webster's 1828 dictionary defines Honor as:
  1. The esteem due or paid to worth; high estimation.
    A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country. Matt.13:57.
  2. A testimony of esteem; any expression of respect or of high estimation by words or actions; as the honors of war; military honors; funeral honors; civil honors.
  3. Dignity; exalted rank or place; distinction.
    I have given thee riches and honor. 1 Kings 3:13.
    Thou art clothed with honor and majesty. Ps. 104.
    In doing a good thing, there is both honor and pleasure.
  4. Reverence; veneration; or any act by which reverence and submission are expressed, as worship paid to the Supreme Being.
  5. Reputation; good name; as, his honor is unsullied.

This is one game where earning honor is important and that alone makes it a worthwhile investment!

Year of Release—2000

Positive—This is my favorite PC game - graphics are some of the best I have seen - In order to win this game with a high rating you need a relaxed trigger finger and a calm attitude. The producer of this game and the other SWAT games was once a chief or other high ranking official in the L.A.P.D. Some material could have been left out but it all adds to the realism of the game. This isn't a “shoot the bad guys” game but a realistic simulater that requires judgment and guidance of you as a SWAT element leader. My Ratings: [3/5]
   —Anon., age 16

I have been playing this genre of games ever since Rainbow Six hit the demo cd's. I have all of the Rainbow Six's and I am a huge fan of the Law Enforcement agencies around the world, especially the Los Angeles Police Department and their SWAT Team. I was very excited when I played the demo of this. Everything was like real life, almost a training simulator. The game features real happenings like barricaded suspects and hostage rescues, some are more believable than others but are all very exciting. This game isn't like the Rainbow Six collection this has more of a police feel to it. The object of the game is to detain all suspects with minimal loss of life. I think its just perfect! My Ratings: [5/5]
   —Paul Arrow, age 15

It must be noted that this game was actually derived from an earlier Sierra series called Police Quest, which was so realistic they used it to train officers. Expect no less from this game. It is very real. My Ratings: [4/4]
   —Gene Angel, age 14

…the object of the game is not to shoot everything in sight, but rather to try and capture the bad guys, and rescue the hostages without anyone getting hurt. There is a lot of violence however, and lots of blood, and people do indeed die, and if he or she is one of your officers, they don't come back to help you in later missions. You will get more leadership points if you keep violence to a minimum, so you want to try to apprehend the suspects, rather than shoot them. If any hostages get killed, it's your fault, so you want to rescue them, too. This game is excellent as far as graphics and realism go, but there is lots of blood, some adult themes (example: raiding a nightclub), and the element commands might get in the way of action, but that emphasizes teamwork. I would recommend this game only to mature teens or possibly even preteens, but beware the violence. My Ratings: [2/4]
   —Nathan Jones, age 13

I love this game! The object is not to kill anybody unless they become a threat to an innocent person (you or the hostages). I find nothing offensive in this game except maybe a couple cuss words and underdressed women. These only appear is 3 of 16 of the missions, however. This game promotes saving lives, whoever it is. It shows kids that if you shoot someone, they REALLY die and don't come back to life. And if you die; that's it… Game Over. My Ratings: [4/5]
   —Bradley Corbitt, age 14

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

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