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Video Game / SWAT 3

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SWAT 3: Close Quarters Battle was the third installment in Sierra's S.W.A.T. series, the more action-themed spinoff of their previous Police Quest series. 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 First-Person Shooter, 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 successful and acclaimed tactical shooters of the late 90s (bear in mind that the subgenre was basically brand new back then, with progenitor Rainbow Six only releasing a year beforehand).

An interesting article on the history of the game's development can be read here. and Steam both now have the Tactical Game of the Year Edition available for ten dollars.


For the game's successor developed six years later by Irrational Games, see SWAT 4.

For the series that this game descended from, see Police Quest.

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This game provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Mission 15 takes place in one. Justified it that it's a storm drain system.
  • Deconstruction: The idea that a good action game doesn't necessarily have to involve purely shooting people in the face has become a tradition in the SWAT series, and this installment is no exception. Adherence to procedure, protocol and less violent solutions of hostage situations is paramount throughout the game.
  • Final Death: Played with. In the last mission, there is a nuclear bomb that needs to be defused. If you die, the bomb goes off and the usual restart mission button at the death screen is gone. Though you can just replay the mission through the main menu.
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  • First-Person Ghost: Applied to the same extremes that Rainbow Six went in normal gameplay, as you can't even see your own gun or equipment on-screen except as a crosshair in the shape of your gun's sights or an icon of your equipment. Entering "handsup" into the console averts this by making your third-person model visible from first-person.
  • Game Mod: Has a long-lived modding community that is still going strong and producing various additions to the vanilla versions of the game.
    • Even Sierra themselves made some mods for the game after it was released; the Tactical Game of the Year edition comes with optional "Commander" and "Tier One" packs which add almost ever enemy-only weapon to the player's arsenal, alongside entirely-new goodies.
  • Genre Shift: As already mentioned, this was the first game in the S.W.A.T. series to be a full-fledged FPS. It proved even more successful than the first two games and helped cement the notion of tactical squad-based FPSes as a viable subgenre.
  • Hostage Situation: About 2/3 of the missions in the game consist of rescuing hostages.
  • HUD: Being a realistic squad-based tactical shooter, the HUD in this game is very minimalist. The most you get is a crosshair evoking your gun's ironsights or the actual crosshair on its optics, or an image of whatever equipment you're using; a silhouette of yourself showing whether you're in stealth or dynamic mode and whether you're sprinting; a meter indicating injuries if you get non-fatally shot; an optional panel in the upper left showing what number keys to press for different communications to command the squad or report in to TOC; and other, optional panels giving a view of what one or more of your teammates are looking at or to look through the opti-wand when it's in use.
    • Diegetic Interface: The HUD is presented as being a digital readout on your character's helmet which, as above, can be linked to your teammates' helmets to show their point of view.
  • I Got You Covered: One of the standard squad procedures. AI squadmates will automatically cover entryways in the room when they are not occupied, as well as keep their guns up at any surrendering suspects waiting to be cuffed.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: Failing the last mission a causes nuclear explosion and the death of everyone inside including the player and the team.
  • Mercy Rewarded: As with its successor, SWAT 4, the game docks you points for killing civilians and suspects. The only exception to this is defensive shooting if your squad or the hostages are under threat.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The game was published in 1999, but the campaign is set in 2005. Some minor glimpses into the future include the signing of a global nuclear weapons ban treaty (which the campaign's main Story Arc revolves around) and the fact that the in-game HUD of you and your squad is supposed to be a helmet-mounted digital readout (in the vein of the F-35's pilot helmet, just simpler, looking more like full-face motorcycle helmets than pilot helmets). Since it's a late 90s portrayal of the 2000s, there is some very minor amount of Zeerust in the ideas presented (such as some missions including cars with still-active alarms, which have the usual horn-blaring alongside a mechanical voice warning "STEP AWAY FROM THE VEHICLE" every few seconds). Other than that, there aren't many futuristic elements in the game.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: Sovereign America, a militia group who rejects all government authorities including police as they believe they are all part of a One World Order conspiracy to take over America. They're also an Apocalypse Cult since their leader preaches end of the world rhetoric.
  • Shown Their Work: The level of detail in regards to a tactical SWAT operation is impressive, with extensive detail and explanation of everything from fire and movement and use of force/lethal force to taking into account different penetration on different rounds depending on plaster, glass, wood, concrete, etc. and how lower-level criminals are more likely to surrender where high ranking terrorists and mercs would rather go out in a blaze of glory.
  • Simulation Game: Crossed with Tactical Shooter.
  • Stop, or I Will Shoot!: Played fairly straight, but also subverted a bit. Your officers are much more likely to shoot a suspect if he's so much as holding a gun, let alone pointing it at them or shooting it. That said, they will immediately stop shooting at the suspect if he drops his gun and surrenders, assuming they missed or non-fatally wounded him. In later games (SWAT 4, etc.), teammates are a bit more lenient towards the suspects and give them a brief amount of time to drop their weapons.
  • SWAT Team: You lead one, solving both mundane law enforcement cases, as well as nefarious terrorist activities during an ongoing global peace summit in Los Angeles.
  • Total Party Kill: Can happen very easily. One entrenched enemy who chooses to lean out of cover at just the right time can absolutely dice you and your entire squad.
  • Updated Re-release: Close Quarters Battle was rereleased with new content as SWAT 3: Elite Edition and again with more content as SWAT 3: Tactical Game of the Year Edition, however both were made available as patches for older versions (although only people who bought the Game of the Year Edition were able to get the disc featuring videos of Blackwater demonstrating tactics).
  • Western Terrorists: Most of your adversaries in missions related to the campaign's main Story Arc.


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