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Video Game / Police Quest: SWAT 2

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Police Quest: SWAT 2 (1998) - Three years after the release of the first Police Quest: SWAT game, the Sierra-owned studio Yosemite Entertainment brought the SWAT series back. While its predecessor was an interactive movie, SWAT 2 is an isometric real time tactics game where you command individual combatants as a Non-Entity General during typical SWAT crisis situations.

The main features of SWAT 2 are the two 15-mission campaigns for Los Angeles SWAT and a fictional Western Terrorist organization called the Five Eyes. Gameplay is divided between personnel management (funds, equipment, training, mission assignment) and tactical encounters where SWAT and criminals clash. Personnel must be rotated or replaced as they recover from injuries or (as in real-life SWAT) are suspended while a fatal shooting is investigated.


The two sides play quite differently. SWAT prefers a nonlethal approach and imposes heavy penalties if even a single officer, innocent, or nonthreatening suspect is killed during a mission. Conversely, the Five Eyes desires mission completion at any cost, with little care for innocent or terrorist deaths as long as the job is done.

Of particular interest, you are not obligated to succeed at every mission in order to complete the campaign. Good performance earns money while poor performance costs money, but you may continue as long as your bank account remains in the green.

For its Tactical Shooter successors, see SWAT 3 and SWAT 4.

For the series that this game is a part of, see Police Quest.


SWAT 2 provides examples of:

  • The Ace: At least in the scope of SWAT work, some of the officers begin with fantastic stats and have appropriately impressive backstories:
    • Jeff Buchanan (your first preassigned element leader) is a 29-year-old with outstanding skill in all areas, and is the only one who starts with EMT certification.
    • Randy Abernathy (also an element leader) is extremely athletic and has years of SWAT experience.
    • Sonny Bonds (a Previous Player-Character Cameo) starts with excellent stats in everything that matters and can immediately take element leader certification.
    • Kim Brandenburg grew up going on hunting trips with her father and brothers. She appropriately starts with 100% sniper rifle skill, can be immediately certified as an element leader, and is nicknamed "Dead-Eye" by her teammates.
  • All There in the Manual: SWAT 2 has a wealth of information from explaining how the SWAT truck was bought from the Department of Energy for a single dollar (and had a smiley face painted on the battering ram) to background to each mission and basis on real events to a disclaimer on not having a terrorist give advice for the Five Eyes missions.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The last level of SWAT 2 has armed terrorists seize control of Parker Center by masquerading as civilians and reporters.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted. Officers are automatically equipped with armor, and they are quite resistant to pistol fire because of it. Body armor is optional for terrorists, but it's probably something you'll want to have for anyone you want to be alive when the mission's over.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: According to the manual, Basho weaves persuasive language, dogma, and bad poetry into a tapestry of compelling rhetoric.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: When playing as the terrorists, you can order them to commit suicide rather than get arrested by the police. There's no real reason to do this as arrested terrorists will be released two missions later. AI-controlled suspects are also capable of shooting themselves with the same animation. You can attempt the same as SWAT, but the officer will always refuse, sometimes with a funny line.
  • Bottomless Magazines: In order to simply the inventory management, everyone has infinite ammunition with any weapon.
  • Cardboard Prison: During the Terrorist campaign, any terrorists arrested by SWAT are reported to jump bail after two missions, making them available again. This is purely Rule of Fun to give surrendering a tactical use for the player. In reality, the Five Eyes as an organization commits so many violent felonies that there is no way any of its members would ever see daylight again after being captured.
  • Career-Ending Injury: A terrorist who is severely wounded at the end of a mission will be labeled as "maimed" and cannot participate in any further missions. Conversely, SWAT officers will always recover from any non-fatal injury.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Both the Five Eyes and SWAT have impressive personnel rosters numbering in the dozens, all of them with unique names, faces, and backstories. None of this even matters as they are all effectively Player Mooks once in the field.
  • Color Motif: SWAT is blue, the terrorists are green.
  • Cop Killer: Each mission of the Terrorist campaign usually has SWAT elements show up, and you'll probably end up shooting or tossing grenades at them.
  • Corrupt Politician: The mayor in SWAT 2.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Some terrorists have tragic backstory, such as Dante, who is a summa cum laude graduate at an unnamed Ivy League University, but fell into alcoholism and drug abuse due to his inability to find meaningful education and the angst caused by the clash between his silver spoon upbringing and his personal beliefs.
  • The Dragon: Dante, the Terrorist player character, serves as Basho's lieutenant.
  • Death of a Child: Children are in the game and they can be killed, sometimes through a gruesome manner (e.g. explosions).
  • Evil Counterpart: The Five Eyes to SWAT. As provided by the manual, the mission statements of both organizations have a striking word-for-word similarity that emphasizes teamwork, intensive self-improvement, and maintaining high standards of mental and physical health. The problem is, the Five Eyes also prioritizes its Scam Religion that encourages violence against anyone they don't like.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The terrorists' leader Basho abhors drugs. We later find out its because his son became addicted to them and it ruined his life. He also abhors the killing of children.
  • Evil Is Easy: The terrorist campaign is very easygoing when it comes to regulations. Basho doesn't particularly care about anything that happens during a mission as long as the primary objective is accomplished. While some of the objectives are subjectively difficult, it's just a matter of running and gunning your way through.
    • An easy (almost exploitative) way to win the Terrorist missions is to just set up a sniper team and have them snipe all the policemen that show up. Since the AI has a hard time taking out your snipers and considering killing policemen in the Terrorist campaign instantly nets you points, it's pretty much a guaranteed way to pass the mission with flying colors.
  • Evil Versus Evil: A couple of the Terrorist missions involve armed opponents who are also violent gang members or terrorists.
  • Food as Bribe: In the Terrorist campaign, you must ask SWAT for food and give it to a newspaper editor before she will agree to print Basho's manifesto.
  • Gameplay Grading: The debrief for each mission includes a rating as an overall reflection of performance. The terrorist campaign emphasizes mission completion and scoring points, particularly by abducting civilians and killing enemy combatants. The SWAT campaign starts with the topmost rating by default, and then reduces based on the singular worst event that occurred, meaning that a single innocent or officer death will destroy your rating in an otherwise successful mission. Good ratings will give bonus money, while bad ratings will take your money; if a bad rating leaves you bankrupt, the campaign is over.
  • Hide Your Children: Averted; children are in the game (and they can be killed).
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Basho created the Five Eyes so they could break him out of prison; he intended to abandon them once they did. However, by double-crossing them, the members of the Five Eyes are angered by the betrayal and end up either killing him, or wounding and leaving him to the mercy of SWAT.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: Campaign failure in SWAT 2 is normally caused by bankruptcy or failing a critical mission objective, which causes either SWAT to shut down or Basho to disband the group. But there are some interesting deviations from this, particularly during the final couple of missions:
    • If the chief is killed during SWAT's final mission, CNT negotiator Alvarez takes over the debrief:
      Alvarez: Alvarez speaking for Sgt. Markossian, who sadly was but one of today's casualties. This is a tragic day for the LAPD. Among the fallen, we include our chief, John De Souza. The chief was a 36-year veteran of the force. I'm sure at this point in his career, the last thing he expected was to die in the line of duty. But I'm also certain that, as a warrior, he'd prefer to go this way. Though I know he would not cast blame, it is our shame that we could not protect our leader. SWAT's strength and reputation has been severely damaged. It will take years for the force to recover from this devastating blow, and who knows what the terrorists will do next?
    • If Dante is arrested or dies in the penultimate terrorist mission, or both Dante and Basho are arrested or killed in the final mission, getaway driver John Aiken gets the last word:
      Aiken: Both Dante and Basho are dead. I don't know about you all, but at this point I'm just glad to be alive. I don't care if I ever hear a thing about the Five Eyes again. Me and my brothers are going home now. I suggest you all do the same. See ya around... maybe.
    • If only Dante is arrested or killed in the final mission, Basho gets the last word:
      Basho: This is Basho calling from... a higher plane. I want to offer my condolences for the death of our brother, Dante. He was a good man, though often blind to the truth. I've composed this haiku in honor of his passing. Dante's dead, a sigh / His spirit soars like my jet / to a new country. I'll be sure to send you all a postcard from... Well, from whatever tropical island I decide to call home.
  • Karma Houdini: The end of the terrorist campaign sees player character Dante and those loyal to him hijacking a private plane, renouncing the criminal life with a Narmy poem, and setting course for the nearest tropical paradise. At least Basho gets his comeuppance by being killed or arrested — depending on just how many bullets the player sends his way.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • It's possible for a suspect to shoot and kill an innocent or officer within seconds of entering a mission, immediately ruining your rating regardless of any action you might have taken. The same may happen if a suspect botches an attempt to set an explosive — the resulting explosion may kill a hostage, or a suspect you're supposed to apprehend.
    • In the SWAT campaign, the locations of the pieces of evidence required to get the Golden Ending are randomised with no indication of what needs to be collected. Sometimes evidence is carried by a suspect, and you can only retrieve the evidence by arresting them. You can arrest an incapacitated suspect to take their evidence, but a dead suspect's inventory might as well have just been sucked into a black hole.
    • When playing the terrorist campaign, it's random as to whether SWAT will agree to give you food, money, or an escape vehicle. This is not usually a big deal, but one mission requires food and they may decide to break into the building before agreeing to the demand.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The game was released in 1998 and takes place in a 1999 that looks pretty much like 1998.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: The end of the terrorist campaign pretty much reveals that the entire organization was a sham by one man to break him out of prison.
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: The manual for SWAT 2 says how Darryl Gates can advise with hints when playing as the police. There is no option for this for the Five Eyes as Sierra explained they did not want to take down advice a professional terrorist would provide.
  • Pet the Dog: Basho is a through-and-through villain, but he does have periodic moments of benevolence during the Terrorist campaign:
    • For practical reasons, he criticizes you for killing innocents, believing that recruitment is better.
    • In the second mission only, he is specifically dissatisfied if any child is reclaimed by SWAT or killed.
    • He criticizes rogue members for selling marijuana, and administers vigilante justice against a violent street gang.
    • One mission is dedicated to ensuring that a child receives treatment at a hospital — by busting in and taking hostages, yes, but at least the motive is pure.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: Sonny Bonds from Police Quest appears as one of the SWAT team members in SWAT 2. His bio states that he's on loan to the LAPD from Lytton so he can learn from the LAPD and start a SWAT team in Lytton.
  • Randomly Generated Levels: Each mission has a mix of scripted events and randomness. Different characters might start in different rooms, move around in different ways, set traps next to different doors, or choose to surrender or fight when confronted by SWAT.
  • Purple Prose: The terrorists' leader Basho is fond of this. He even gets called out by one of his own men for doing it.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: A number of Five Eyes terrorists are veterans of the Vietnam War with a grudge against the government or society in general.
  • Take That!:
    • The game takes some shots at the news media, such as portraying them as being anti-police and pro-rioter in one mission, recklessly encouraging people to go to a riot. The Big Bad of the game's SWAT campaign is a corrupt L.A. mayor.
    • Some unused voice lines of the chief giving a debriefing have venomous (though humorous) Stealth Insults for journalists.
      Chief De Souza: Today, an innocent died. We could have prevented that death. Remember, even a newsperson is worthy of our protection.
  • Western Terrorists: The Five Eyes is based on a mishmash of American domestic terrorism such that it loosely resembles but doesn't exactly match any existing group. According to their profiles, most of the individual members are card-carrying Right Wing Militia Fanatics, Shell Shocked Veterans of the Vietnam War, have a personal grudge against society or the government, or just want to be part of a like-minded group without caring that their new "family" is kind of into murder and kidnapping. Basho, running a classical Scam Religion Cult, has then stepped in to direct all their anger into doing what he wants, hence why he reprimands anyone who acts without his orders, takes any money you manage to scam out of SWAT, and rants to Dante that all of his followers were directionless losers before he (Basho) came along.

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