The SWAT series of video games is a spinoff of Sierra's earlier series of police-themed adventure games, Police Quest. It began in 1995 and at first stuck to its adventure game roots, but gradually moved away from them to become its own fully-fledged series of tactical First Person Shooters. However, all installments, regardless of their genre underpinnings, did their best to be convincing SWAT Team Simulation Games.
As with Police Quest, all games in the SWAT series were published by Sierra. With Sierra's demise in 2008, the rights to the SWAT series have been sold off to Activision. Currently, all bets are off whether the SWAT game series will ever resurface in the future (it doesn't look very hopeful, though). In any case, all 4 SWAT games are now available for purchase at GOG.com.
Installments of the SWAT game series :
- Police Quest: SWAT (1995) - The first entry in the series still gave away its roots in the adventure game genre. However, unlike the Police Quest games, it was an full motion video "Interactive Movie" game, which were a brief fad in the gaming world during the rise of CDs and multimedia in the early-to-mid 90s. The player character is a rookie SWAT officer dubbed "SWAT Pup" who can gradually rise through the ranks after finishing his training, eventually becoming the team leader. While the game was a rather nice interactive documentary on the training and work of a LAPD SWAT team, it was ultimately a bit of a disappointment, with only three playable, fully-fledged missions/assignments.
- Police Quest: SWAT 2 (1998) - Three years later, the Sierra-owned studio Yosemite Entertainment brought the SWAT series back. But this time, it was a top-down isometric strategy game, where you commaded your SWAT Team as a Non-Entity General would in a Real Time Tactics game. While the game was even better received than the previous one due to greatly expanded and deeper gameplay, it also received criticism for some Game-Breaker Good Bad Bugs (e.g. making extra money by selling your teammates' sidearms) and for overly strict adherence to SWAT protocol (rather infamously, shooting at suspects even for defensive purposes gave you a penalty).
- SWAT 3: Close Quarters Battle (1999) - Developed by the Sierra Northwest studio and published in 1999, this game was in many ways a milestone in the series: The first SWAT game to be a Squad-based Tactical FPS, the last SWAT game to be set in Los Angeles and be developed by an in-house studio of Sierra, and one of the more succesful and acclaimed tactical shooters of the late 90s (bare in mind that the subgenre was basically brand new back then).
- SWAT 4 (2005) : The first game in the series not to be developed by an in-house Sierra-owned studio. It landed in good hands, though, being developed by Irrational Games, who had previously developed System Shock 2, Tribes: Vengeance and the Freedom Force games (and would go on to create the BioShock series). The setting of the game moved from LA to an unspecified city in the northeast US (probably New York). In a Continuity Nod to its predecessors, an elderly Sonny Bonds appears as a senior SWAT officer and the player character is a recent transfer from the LAPD SWAT team.
- SWAT: Target Liberty (2007): A Spin-Off game developed by 3G Studios and published by Vivendi Games. Rather than a squad based FPS, it is a top down 3D squad based game where it once again stars the previous SWAT members from 4 with the lead SWAT now being named Kurt Wolfe, and he can select two officers to accompany him on a mission, each with capabilities suited for each operation. Set in New York City, the squad initially deal with a gang war involving two Korean-American gangs (Jopok and Kkangpae), but they soon deal with a terrorist group who plan on setting off a nuke on an American soil and pin the blame on North Korea to start World War III.