"Police! On your knees!"
"Bring Order to Chaos."
A Nintendo Hard tactical First-Person Shooter
video game, developed by Irrational Games
(makers of System Shock II
, the BioShock
series and (surprisingly
) the Freedom Force
series) and published by Sierra
in 2005. It's the fourth installment of Sierra's S.W.A.T.
series (itself a Spin-Off
of the older Police Quest
series). The game is set in the fictional US East Coast city of Fairview and unlike its predecessor, SWAT 3
, it deals with more mundane-themed missions, usually involving professional rescuing of hostages or neutralizing various terrorist groups or criminal gangs. The player takes on the role of a young SWAT Team
officer, a recent transfer from the LAPD to the Fairview special response unit, who acts as the leader of a five-man SWAT squad, issuing commands, and using team work and close cooperation between all the members of the squad to achieve the necessary goals of each mission in the most effective way possible.
SWAT is primarily a life-saving organization, so your main objectives are always to rescue all civilians, arrest all suspects and occasionally secure some needed evidence. This is not as easy as it sounds, since you have to take caution not to harm or kill any of the civilians and make sure you fire at suspects or outright kill them only when necessary. Trying to beat the game by fighting your way through guns blazing is not an option. Fortunately, you have a wide variety of special weapons, ammo and SWAT gear in order to defuse high-risk situations.
The game aims heavily for realism, being one of the few games on the far end of the Fackler Scale of FPS Realism
. Well known for its quality production values and innovative gameplay, as well as a famous and funny Let's Play
by The Spoony Experiment
This game was available for purchase on Direct2Drive before the service was acquired by Gamefly, and then was made unavailable for purchase.
For its predecessor, see SWAT 3
For the series that this game descended from, see Police Quest
SWAT 4 provides examples of:
- Acceptable Breaks from Reality:
- One of the few breaks in the game's otherwise highly realistic shooting physics is the complete absence of bullet ricochet. Another break from reality is the absence of trigger reflexes or spasms. Those may cause the unplanned emptying of the guns by perps after they themselves were wounded and/or killed (or hit in the correct nerve), or simply out of pure nervousness. In singleplayer, at least. Situations that resemble a post-death trigger spasm can occur frequently in multiplayer.
- While you can blind and temporarily disable yourself with flashbangs and sting grenades in singleplayer, tear gas grenades don't affect you or your team in any way. On the other hand, in multiplayer, both you and the opposing team can be disabled by all types of stun grenades, even their own. And unlike in singleplayer, if you're afraid of tear gas attacks in multiplayer, you can don a gas mask.
- Yet another break is that the SWAT officers (including you) communicate verbally ("See the bad guys...", "Got a runner!", "Clear!", etc), while in real life they mostly use hand signals in order not to alarm the perps on the other side of the door. As a matter of fact, perps will usually never be able to hear shouts or gunfire as far as one or two rooms away, which can be quite jarring, seeing how this sort of thing is multiplied in volume in close quarters. On the other hand, being quiet can actually help you with sneaking up closely to a suspect, then ambushing him by surprise.
- Lastly, outside of multiplayer, the suspects (even the professional militiamen/commandos) never work in teams like SWAT, which gives them an important disadvantage in combat. There are no coordinated defenses or attacks, and their sort-of-tactic usually amounts to 'sit tight in a random room by yourself (alternatively, with a hostage) and shoot anyone coming through the door (alternatively, run away)'.
- Always Night: Each mission is set in the late evening, in the early morning or at night time.
- AKA47: Both averted and played straight. The firearms manufactured by Colt and Benneli all have their proper names in-game, but the assault rifles and submachine guns manufactured by the German company Heckler und Koch all have bland names, like "9 mm SMG", etc. The Austrian-manufactured Glock 17 is also referred to only as the "9mm pistol". Irrational probably couldn't get permission from those two companies to name the guns after their real names.
- Arms Dealer: A whole international gang of them in the penultimate, 12. assignment. It's a pretty hard mission, since it's set in a decaying abandoned building in the industrial quarter of the city and the hallways and rooms are hard to navigate because they're full of junk, makeshift barricades and debris.
- The first mission also features a much more amateurish gang of gun dealers and modifiers, hiding their illegal business behind the guise of a local Chinese restaurant.
- The Stetchkov Syndicate's eponymous Bulgarian crime family count as well. The Expansion Pack's missions deal with the effects of the Stetchkovs' recent and unusual forays into the arms trade, which are pointed out in the Mission Briefings.
- Artificial Stupidity: Quite a lot by your squadmates.
- If you give an order, sometimes it can be overruled and ignored if something "more important" comes up. Examples include getting an urgent message on the radio, issuing multiple orders in a row, spotting a suspect, etc. This sort of makes sense, but can be frustrating when you later notice that the action you made still hasn't been completed.
- Your teammates usualy scan the room thoroughly before giving off reports like that. But some AI wonks do occasionally appear in more tighter or crammed-in spaces. Sometimes your teammates even accidentally shoot you if your squad is caught in a fire fight with the criminals. Sometimes they run in front of your gun while you're trying to fire. Or switch place in front of the doors if one of them is lacking the type of grenade you ordered to be thrown into the room. Which is of course logical... unless there's a friggin' suspect right in front of the door, mere centimeters away, ready to shoot them while they're waltzing in front of the exposed doorway. Most of the AI issues of your squadmates and problems with giving more complex chains of commands were thankfully fixed by patches and the Expansion Pack.
- "You're in my way."
- Ordering your squadmate to flashbang a room has a high probability to see that flashbang land squarely at your feet.
- Artificial Brilliance: But, to its credit, the game does have very sophisticated AI at some parts. Too bad for you though, as most of this intelligence is limited to the criminals. Even then, your teammates do have their moments.
- Asshole Victim: When you and your team storm the Diamond Wholesaler's Meeting Room, you will find a slide show that shows what they were discussing before the bank robbers came; how their outsources in central Africa will suffer a dramatic decrease in efficiency due to the "local enforcement of international law". Ouch.
- Badass Army: The militiamen you face off against late in the game, along with the North Korean special forces.
- Badass Crew: Your squad, obviously, being SWAT officers.
- Basement-Dweller/Psychopathic Manchild: Lawrence Fairfax, the mildly demented kidnapper of women and Serial Killer from the second mission. The evening news heard on the radio dubs him "The Law School Lyncher".
- Big Applesauce: Though they changed the city name, it was clearly intended to be New York. At the beginning of Mission 4 (The A-Bomb Club), a large ad is painted on the wall for a garage in Brooklyn, the briefing for mission 9 tells you the command post is at Broadway and 100th in "Manhattan north," and the diplomat in Mission 12 was in the middle of a speech to the United Nations. Your teammates will also sometimes sarcastically tell suspects to "Have fun in Rikers," referring to a jail complex in New York City.
- Blatant Lies/Never My Fault: The suspects in some missions, particularly those featuring drug dealers, come up with some pretty amusing excuses as to why they're there while you and your team arrest them. Take this soundbite from a mobster in the mission where you raid a Stetchkov-controlled drug lab as an example:
- Bomb Disposal/Time Bomb: An objective in the penultimate mission set in a hotel taken over by an extremist group. In The Stetchkov Syndicate, the mission wherein a Department of Agriculture office is besieged by a union of disgruntled farmers has this as well. Also a multiplayer mode.
- Brand X/Bland-Name Product: Virtually every product you see in the game is of this variety (even company ads and promotional posters for movies and games), but with obvious nods to the brand it's parodying.
- Butt Monkey: Meta example. The elderly woman in the second level is probably one of the most abused characters in video games ever.
- City Noir: Quite a lot of it, especially in the more darker missions taking place in various crumbling urban hellholes.
- Complaining about Complaining: Many of the civilians are stubborn, scared or disoriented enough that they'll come across as this when you handcuff them (needless to say, a lot of the objections include their outrage over getting handcuffed in the first place). The arrested suspects are even less polite to you and your team after getting cuffed (especially if they're less of a Harmless Villain and more of a professional mobster).
- Continuity Nod: Sonny Bonds, the protagonist of S.W.A.T.'s predecessor series, Police Quest, is the chief of Fairview's SWAT training facility and your instructor in the game's tutorial. The player character is also a transfer from the LAPD SWAT team, the focus of the previous three SWAT games.
- Cool, but Inefficient: The less-lethal grenade launcher. It's insanely powerful and has a lot of variation on ammo. But it's also heavy, unwieldy, void of a mounted flashlight, can only ever hold one grenade at a time, takes very long to reload, and is cripplingly inaccurate.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: See the Asshole Victim example above.
- Cowboy Cop or By-the-Book Cop: Depending on your style, you can choose to go in gunning down every suspect without calling for compliance. But, as already mentioned, the game only rewards you for playing by the book.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Suspects react pretty appropriately to getting shot, tazed, gassed, sprayed with mace, beaten, or hit with stinger grenades.
- Creator Provincialism: The architecture and skyline of Fairview is very similar to Boston and your squadmates and most of the other characters have various forms of the Bostonian or New England accent. Hardly surprising, since Irrational Games are Bostonians to the bone.
- Cult/Church of Happyology: The Tarronians, led by a certain Sinister Minister from Iowa named Andrew Tarrone. You visit their eerie half-abandoned apartment building in mission 9.
- Deconstruction: This is an FPS which greatly discourages (and outright punishes at harder levels) killing, even directed to bad guys, since the game expects you to become a police officer. However, you are given an array of nonlethal weaponry as your loadout choice.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- In the fifth mission, set in an office building taken over by armed suspects, when you're taking care of the rescued civilians' safety, Girard looks around the cubicles and quips:
Officer Girard: Ha! The old rat race... Now I remembered why I joined the force.
- In the fourth mission, where there was a shoot-out between some young delinquents at a rock concert:
Officer Reynolds: You see, this is why I don't let my kids go to rock shows.
Officer Fields: What, and have them miss all this fun?
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Besides doing your regular SWAT work, you can turn on radios, switch to different stations, shoot fire extinguishers and plumbing pipes to start spraying extinguishing foam and water, shoot glass objects and even a box of donuts to bits, blow up computers, TV sets and gas canisters by shooting them, etc. And a remarkable amount of work has gone to make Bland Name Products and the advertising of fictional companies look and feel real and believable... not to mention funny...
- Purely in regards to the aesthetics of the game: Most levels have numerous subtle visual references to the backgrounds of the victims and/or targets. For just one example, the hospital level has one room intricately decorated for a child's birthday party... but with a bloody stain on the bed. The hospital level also has TVs with a news report where the reporter tells everyone that SWAT has entered the building. If you take notice of it, your character will call TOC and tell them to get her off the air - shortly afterward, every TV in the level will be broadcasting nothing but static.
- Disc One Nuke: For the Single Player Career in the expansion, the very first weapon to be unlocked is a nifty HK69 Less-Lethal Grenade Launcher. It can be loaded with projectile versions of the hand grenades available to the team, or a rubber baton round. Scoring a direct hit on a suspect with it will cause completely voluntary compliance on the suspect's part, instead of the incapacitation or death which it would likely cause in reality. Also, when loaded with CS grenades, the weapon can be used to quickly pacify large areas. For added fun: the Ammo Pouch, which doubles the amount of ammo you can carry, is the very next unlock after this one.
- This is sort of balanced out by the fact that it can only load one grenade at a time, and that it's one of the heavier weapons in the game, so it's not that easy to aim with it quickly. Also, it's the only weapon in the game unavailable to your AI squadmen, so only you can equip and use it. Being a grenade launcher, it also does not have a mounted flashlight.
- Dynamic Entry: Though some situations will encourage you to opt for clearing a room more stealthily, this is the most common tactic for entering and clearing a room. If planned and executed well, it routinely results in a Big Damn Heroes moment for your SWAT team. The game manual and tutorial does encourage you to make sudden and loud entries into rooms with an ongoing hostage situation, because the enemy AI takes elements like shock and surprise into account. Most suspects will surrender as soon as the door flies to pieces and the room gets engulfed with tear gas and the rabid shouts of your teammates.
- Emergency Services: Throughout the two singleplayer campaigns and even in some multiplayer levels, there are numerous references to calling in more ambulances and paramedics as reinforcements to help with the higher-than-expected number of wounded civilians or an incapacitated-in-defence suspect. Also, technically speaking, even your own team and squad count as an example of this trope, despite being an armed, paramilitary unit.
- Expansion Pack: Released a few months later and called The Stetchkov Syndicate. It adds seven new missions connected by a more overarching crime story, various useful new weapons (including a cool tear gas grenade launcher and a more modern tazer pistol, which can double as a melee Emergency Weapon), the option to issue a whole string of various "to do" commands to your squadmates, and numerous bug and AI fixes (criminals become even more cunning, ruthless and resistant to arrest and your squadmates are also brighter in general).
- Everybody Lives: The ideal (and highest-scoring) outcome for any mission involves safely securing all civilians and capturing every suspect alive, resulting in zero casualties, although some later missions have corpses of civilians who were killed before the SWAT team arrived on scene.
- Faceless Goons: Inverted. The player and his teammates wear full body armor, as well as helmets and balaclavas to cover their faces, while most suspects have visible faces.
- Fackler Scale of FPS Realism/Nintendo Hard: Very, very, very far towards the hard end of realism. Besides the fact that you have to abide by police regulations and protocol (meaning you can't shoot unarmed people and have to deal carefully with armed suspects), your overall movement and gunplay abilities feel really believable. Characters can't take much damage before they die, even if they're wearing body armor and helmets. No one can jump and you and your squad mates can only run at a reasonable pace, being careful in the potentially dangerous enviroment of the hostile area you're clearing. Getting shot in the leg will slow you down and make you limp a bit, while getting shot in both legs will disable your ability to run. Getting shot in the hands will slightly diminish your ability to take precise aim. And since we mentioned it, the accuracy of your aim and fire can be increased by 1.) Crouching. 2.) Walking more slowly. 3.) Shooting in semi-automatic mode instead of full-auto or burst mode (recoil is a real bitch in this game). Sans the marksman rifle, none of the firearms have functioning scopes, but you have a context-sensitive crosshair for each weapon, even the stun grenades. The smaller and tighter it gets, the better aim you have. Magazines avert One Bullet Clips and are reloaded manually by the player, not automatically. A particularly nice touch is that you can even select different types of ammo in your loadout menu: Full-metal jacket bullets are good for taking down well-armoured foes, but have the downside of being able to punch through weaker materials (like wooden doors and walls or even unarmoured bodies), accidentally injuring anyone standing on the other side. Standard casing bullets are slower and weaker, and while they can't punch through body armor, they're really ideal for fighting unarmoured suspects.
- The game has absolutely no saves or savepoints. If you die in a mission, you can't respawn, just like in Real Life. Luckily, you can at least restart it from the beginning.
- All in all, you have to play in a relatively professional manner to get a perfect and spotless score - even on the lower difficulties. See also the other trope entries that mention the realistic elements of the game (you can blind yourself with your own stun grenades, etc.).
- Friendly Fire Proof: Averted. If you are stupid enough to actually kill your team-mates online or your friendly AI in singleplayer (even by accident), the friendly AI will actually fire back and kill you, failing the mission and suffering penalties as a result. Many players were annoyed by this and it's proven in SpoonyOne's Let's Play in SWAT 4's 12th level. Even injuring your officers three times will result in revenge friendly fire by your AI team-mates.
- First-Person Ghost: Subverted. You never play from a third person perspective, nor can you switch to one. But you have your own body model (just like your squadmates) and you can see yourself from the third person when you're character is mortally wounded and falls to the ground (with the "mission failed" message appearing over the scene).
- The Fundamentalist: The previously-mentioned group of religious fundamentalists who took over a stem-cell research lab. Also, in the Expansion Pack, a group of Christians opposed to rock music storm a concert hall and take the band hostage.
- Gas Mask Mooks: Some of the enemies in later missions wear gas masks, making them immune to your tear gas.
- Genre Savvy: In a minor example of this trope, suspects will shout "Oh no, SWAT!" when they see you (even though they don't have any reason to, since you generally identify yourselves simply as 'police').
- Gun Porn: While there are not that many guns in the game, there's still quite an arsenal of lethal and non-lethal weaponry to choose from. Also lampshaded in-universe, with some of your teammates occasionally admiring the ammo stashes of gunrunners you've busted in a mission.
- Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Inverted. the SWAT officers all wear helmets, while the criminals don't. Truth in Television.
- Heroic Mime: Averted. Your player character's name is never given, but he talks more than enough during each mission (either by your command or in pre-scripted instances). Unsurprising, since you're the leadsman of the squad and all...
- Hide Your Children: Well, yeah, the developers don't want you arresting kids. But then you find the graveyard in the basement of the Tarone residence...
- Hoist by His Own Petard: You can blind and stun yourself with the flashbang and stinger grenade. Also, if you don't have thermal vision, using the gas grenade is a double-edged sword because it obscures vision for everyone equally, not just the suspects.
- Hollywood Silencer: Averted. Few firearms in the game come with silencers, but those that do willingly avert this trope by sounding silent, yet still appropriately loud enough to be heard by anyone in the close vicinity.
- Hollywood Tactics: Yeah, just try it. It'll get you killed.
- HUD: Given that this is a Simulation Game that is far to the hard end of Fackler Scale of FPS Realism, the on-screen interface is very minimalist, but intuitive. You have a silhouette representing your SWAT officer in the lower left corner. Based on your current Subsystem Damage (a shot in the leg, etc.), a specific part of the body will become filled up with the colour red, indicating injuries. To the right of the damage meter are the readouts for remaining magazines and ammo and the currently selected mode of fire ("semi/burst/auto"). In the lower right corner of the screen, there's the quick command menu, consisting of a single line of text that changes according to context. It also features a coloured indicator that informs you on which team you're giving the command to (based on whether you've switched to commanding the entire team (gold), the blue team or the red team). A more detailed command menu can be brought up by pressing the right mouse button - it also works in a context-sensitive way (where you point your crosshair at) and can be switched to command any of the colour-coded teams. It disappears once you release it. Unintrusive pop-up tips will appear between the gun and quick command readouts, generally indicating whether you're close enough to open doors, pick up evidence, etc.
- I Got You Covered: Standard procedure.
- Improvised Weapon: It is possible to use the breaching shotgun (specialized purely for entries) for shooting a suspect. But you have to be really close to him. Also, the expansion pack added a punching animation for you and your teammates, and a newer model of taser pistol that can double as both a projectile and melee weapon (you run up close to a suspect and hit him with the electric arc, not wasting ammo like you would if you used the fire mode of the taser).
- Infant Immortality: Averted at the end of the Tarronian mission, where you find the graveyard where they buried their children after killing them.
- In Name Only: Thankfully, not this installment of the series, but the SWAT sequels that came after it on consoles. They're best left undiscussed.
- Instant Death Bullet: Averted for the most part. While it is entirely possible to kill someone instantly with one shot, it requires some realistic situation, such as the gun being of high caliber or simply a headshot. Depending on how good the body armor they are wearing is and how powerful your gun is, it's also possible for enemies to survive being shot a couple of times, although if shot in the right place they will lose accuracy or have to limp. Also, they don't always die when shot. Sometimes, their body armor will save them from death, but they will still be incapacitated.
- I Surrender, Suckers: Some perps are prone to doing this. After telling them to drop the weapon and get down, the perp will slowly do this... and then suddenly either open fire on you, or dive away and out of your sights.
- It's Up to You: You and your four-man squad, that is. The only reinforcements potentially at your disposal are two sniper teams, monitoring the location from a safe distance.
- Law of Inverse Recoil: Averted thoroughly.
- Let's Play: By SpoonyOne, as you know.
- Made of Iron: Averted. This game is very realistic with damage values, even the fully armored SWAT officers or professional terrorists can only take a few shots (2-5 depending on the gun) before going down.
- The Mafiya: The Stetchkov mafia clan are the main villains in the storyline of the Expansion Pack, aptly named The Stetchkov Syndicate.
- Mission Control/Voice with an Internet Connection: The TOC and Highground operators. Also the supporting sniper teams, known as Sierra 1 and Sierra 2. All three of these double as The Voice, since you never meet them in person.
- Montage: The intro cutscene. The expansion's intro does this too, but more briefly and only after an Opening Narration by officer Jackson.
- Moral Dissonance: Only the unnecessary kills made by the player character ever count as unauthorized uses of deadly force, so your snipers can kill perps with impunity. The player's teammates avoid this by always obeying the rules of engagement, so any deadly force they use is always justified. This however causes the AI to frequently hold fire even when using non-lethal weapons against a suspect that's actively mowing down the entry team with their bottomless magazines.
- Mood Whiplash: Play the Taronne mission once or twice. You WILL hear gunwomen act innocent (not even the usual denial) and other males telling you to leave, and then turn right around and ask you for escort out.
- Mythology Gag: Overlaps with Shout-Out and Continuity Nod.
- Some of the incidental sound effects (especially the radio chime) are the same as in the previous installment, SWAT 3.
- The team leader is also a former member of the LAPD and has presumably known the LA SWAT characters from the previous games.
- An older Sonny Bonds is personally present at the training facility in the tutorial mission and gives briefings to your squads before every mission.
- Never Hurt an Innocent/Mercy Rewarded/Video Game Cruelty Punishment: A major gameplay mechanic and plot point of the game. You get penalized for using deadly force against anyone who isn't attacking, criminals included. Even if they've ran off to grab a gun, you can't just outright kill them - unless they actually threaten you, your squad, a civilian, or attempt a shoot-out.
- Non-lethal weapons are the main solution for this problem. People can still be injured by them, but unless you shoot them after they've been cuffed, it doesn't count as a penalty.
- The action key also doubles as a shout button, allowing you to bark orders at both civilians and suspects if they're acting stubborn and don't want to cooperate, comply or surrender. If you want to shoot at any suspect without gaining a penalty to your mission record, you have to give him a final warning first. So, always shout before entering a new unexplored room, hallway or space. The more you shout, the better.
- No Communities Were Harmed/Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Welcome to the bustling metropolis of Fairview... Somewhere in... New England?
- It's in New York State for sure. Check the TVs in Mission 3. It's also entirely possible that most of the game does take place in NYC, except for one mission where the team is sent out to the suburb of Fairview (which might be too small and have too little violent crime to justify having its own SWAT team, while still having its own newspaper that primarily covers local news). That particular mission actually takes place in NYC too. In the briefing, the dispatcher mentions that the address is located in the Bronx. Furthermore, in Mission 3, the gas station is described as being on "Pitkin Avenue", which a real street in Brooklyn, and the diamond store in Mission 8 which is located on "Broadway."
- To add to that, Fairview is infact a real suburb located only around three quarter of an hour north of NYC, definitely close enough for NYC's SWAT to assist in a high-risk warrant arrest.
- Oh, Crap: All too often in multiplayer, as you're arresting you hear or see a grenade fall next to you.
- One Bullet Clips: Averted. You only carry 3 or 4 mags for your main weapon, and your ammo is measured by the amount of bullets in individual mags rather than all your bullets together. You can easily reload a magazine at any time and they'll have the same amount of bullets you left in them the last time you fired.
- As you can go through entire missions without firing a single shot (hint: flashbangs, stingers, and other less-lethals are your friend), the low ammo count makes sense. In fact, if you've fired off an entire magazine, you're probably doing it wrong.
- Pink Mist: What you see when anyone (outside of you) is shot.
- Right Wing Militia Fanatic: The "America Now" terrorist group from the Old Granite Hotel mission fit this trope to a tee.
- Running Gag: A minor but noticeable one with Jackson, who will always react disapprovingly when his team mates notice some desserts or sweet pastries (the donuts in the tutorial mission, the cake for the patient in the hospital mission, etc.).
- Ruritania: Invoked in one of the missions by a random news report seen on a muted TV screen, showing news infographics about an ongoing conflict in "Soboskistan". The capital is apparently called "Mulkso" and the report is being handled by war correspondent Nate Wells (one of the Irrational devs).
- Shoot Out the Lock: Averted, of course. There are three ways for you to deal with a locked door, and given the game's emphasis on close-quarters combat, each of them affects the suspects on the other side differently.
- To the Police Quest series, as already mentioned in the Continuity Nod entry. This is noticeable even during the intro, when one of the logos in the montage briefly turns into a screen from the Police Quest games, complete with the right number of points in the corner◊.
- To the SWAT series in general and Irrational Games as a studio: There are penny arcade slot machines in the office of the city garage from the "Victory Auto Imports" mission. One of them is clearly an arcade version of one of the Freedom Force games, while the other is apparently based on a previously planned but cancelled installment of SWAT (which was eventualy replaced by 4). Both slot machines even play a suspiciously similar song version of the games' theme tunes. And in some of the offices or recreational rooms, there's a recurring cardboard cutout of a game character from Tribes: Vengeance, another game developed by Irrational prior to this one.
- The two sniper teams are codenamed Sierra 1 and Sierra 2.
- To movies like Se7en in the more Darker and Edgier City Noir missions.
- Much like the backstory for Reservoir Dogs, one of the missions is set in a diamond wholesalers specializing in uncut or unpolished diamonds that had just received an uncommon shipment of finished jewels, which attracts the attention of a group of heavily armed robbers.
- One of the objectives in the final mission is the rescue of a research scientist named Theodore Sturgeon (after the writer who coined Sturgeon's Law). The briefing even lampshades it.
- Shown Their Work: Hostages have to be handcuffed - you never know who is a real hostage, and there's always the possibility of Stockholm Syndrome - as do any civilians caught in the area, and they react accordingly. Most will ask you why or chew you out for cuffing them when they have nothing to do with the incident, but some will comply without complaint, sometimes citing that they know this as standard operation procedure due to having family in law enforcement.
- Sinister Minister: Andrew Taronne from the ninth mission.
- Sliding Scale of Law Enforcement: As already mentioned, how you play the protagonist character is up to you, though there are always limits to what you can get away with. The rest of the game's cast are always By The Book Cops. Nevertheless, it's a believable portrayal: Errors caused by insufficient intelligence gathering about the crime scene do occur. Your own teammates have to be downright rude at times when forcing someone to comply. But overall, the police force is generally trying to do their best in getting civilians out of harms way and arresting suspects as peacefully as possible.
- Stop or I Will Shoot!: Players have access to a large amount of nonlethal weapons and you get a lot of points knocked off for 'Unauthorized Use of Force' - shooting without shouting for compliance (ie. "Hands up!") unless they've already pointed a gun at an officer or a hostage - which is an open invitation to shoot first for the sake of you, your squad, or the hostage. The game is at its most fun when you mercilessly attack with tasers, paintball guns, and beanbag shotguns. Especially as less-lethal force isn't penalized. The negligently unaggressive police A.I. sometimes makes you wish your SWAT teammates would shoot on sight, though, since you often get low points on a mission because one of your teammates told a suspect to surrender, and the suspect responded with a shotgun blast to the officer's face, costing you both an officer and 20% of the mission score. Your SWAT teammates won't fire unless fired upon even if you equip them with less-lethal stun weapons (i.e. tasers or pepper spray).
- Subsystem Damage: Every character in the game receives damage separately for each body part (though several body parts can get hit all at once in the more wilder firefights). One of your characters readouts shows the amount of damage he's absorbed so far in a mission. If you get hit in the legs, your speed will diminish and you'll limp along for the rest of the mission. If you get hit in the hands, your ability to aim accurately will be diminished a bit as well.
- Super OCD: Apparently, all your computer-controlled teammates have it, given their absolute insistence, when you're gathering around doors, that everyone be in the exact right spot.
- Stealth-Based Game: Not overtly, but you can use some basic sound and line of sight based stealth in every mission, in order to better sneak up on the unsuspecting suspects.
- The Squad/Badass Crew: You and the members of your squad, of course.
- Sergeant Rock: You. Quite literally, as the player character's stated rank is sergeant. Also, while each of your AI controlled teammates gets to deliver a funny line every so often, your character's soundbytes are almost totally devoid of snark, adding to the whole no-nonsense feel.
- Badass Grandpa: Reynolds. Unambiguously the oldest member of the team, with almost 30 years of SWAT experience, but performs just as well as the others. His nickname among the squad members even invokes this, since he's dubbed "Gramps".
- Boisterous Bruiser: Fields, a.k.a. "Hollywood". While not the most intimidating guy on the squad, he falls under this due to his snarky nature, talkativeness, and general arrogance. Girard may also fall under this sometimes given his propensity to trash-talk arrested suspects.
- Scary Black Man: Jackson, nicknamed "Python". Aside from his profile information listing him as a well-conditioned athlete, he keeps up his air of intimidation when tying up compliant civilians. While your other squadmen reassure or playfully tease the civilians whilst cuffing them, Jackson often threatens the civilians to stay compliant.
- The Heart/Fun Personified: Girard, a.k.a. "Subway". Oh God, Girard...
- SWAT Team: You're a member of one and lead an individual squad. And you get a taste of what the everyday chores of such a squad look like...
- Taking You with Me: A possible (if silly) multiplayer tactic in case you get cornered and have no chance to outgun your opponents is to quickly switch to one of your stun grenades and detonate it immediately, before you collapse under the opponent's fire. Thus stunning the opponent as an act of minor retribution.
- Translation Convention: In the mission wherein a local hospital has been stormed by North Korean paramilitaries attempting to assassinate a South Korean diplomat, said North Koreans speak with American English speech patterns and accents. The diplomat, at least, sounds stereotypically Asian. Possibly justified; maybe they were trained to pass themselves off as Korean-American domestic terrorists?
- Somewhat averted in The Stetchkov Syndicate, wherein the eponymous Bulgarian arms dealers speak English with a thick East-European accent, but drop a few Bulgarian words into their sentences. Unfortunately, they use Russian words, not Bulgarian, which makes it even worse.
- Trick Bomb: The less-lethal grenades. Since your team can throw them into a room (most of the time, anyway) before leaving cover and entering, they are essential to your loadout.
- Useless Useful Spell: Despite what Spoony may tell you, not the stinger grenades, which are actually pretty useful if deployed right. However, in the Expansion Pack, the taser and pepper spray become somewhat useless when you get the ability to simply punch suspects.
- Unfriendly Fire: In the Hospital level, the South Korean envoy's bodyguards (who are technically on the SWAT team's side) will more often than not fire upon you and your guys as soon as they see you. Which is understandable, since the North Korean terrorists in the level wear uniforms that look strikingly similar to SWAT garb at a distance (not to mention that can easily be Truth in Television).
- Unwinnable: The eleventh mission (The Old Granite Hotel) is apparently impossible to finish if you get shot in the leg too early into the mission, because the wound slows you down too much.
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Just shooting suspects instead of convincing them to surrender will lose you points and potentially the game. Killing a hostage, even by accident, will cause an automatic Fail.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: However, once you fail a level the game doesn't autonomously quit to the starting menu. You are free to roam the scenerio gunning down suspects and hostages alike until you click exit.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Civilians give one to you when you order/suppress/cuff them, as they are... you know... innocent. But of course, it is part of any special unit's dogma to detain anyone they come across during such missions, as anybody may be a hazard source for the SWAT officers. So if you leave anyone un-cuffed in any mission, you will lose plenty of points for your negligence.