Saturday, March 21, 2009

Just like a real SWAT team!

My favorite video game of the last few months has been SWAT 3. It's a tactical team shooter, and it's been around long enough that people have made a heap of mods and missions for it. It was released in 2001, and I found it on the $10 discount rack at Fry's just before Christmas; it's old, but new to me. The main perk of an older computer is that I can buy software cheap. My hardware is too old to run any game released in the last three years or so, so any new games I want to pick up are highly inexpensive.

SWAT 3 is a blast so far; I haven't finished it, mostly because I can only play a few minutes before a voice in the back of my head starts screaming, "you should be writing!", loudly enough that it starts messing with the game's incoming radio calls. This is new for me. Once upon a time, when I got a new game I'd play it constantly, finishing it in a day or two, or two weeks at most. Now, I play for a bit of relaxation or simulated action and adventure; I don't feel the compulsive need to Beat The Game that I once did.

And some of the missions are tough, which means I have to replay them a lot to get through them. The bad guys are smart and sneaky, and better armed than me. And they don't have to worry about hitting hostages. I'm just playing to finish the missions in order; I don't pay much attention to the scoring. The game has a weird points system, and a low score doesn't affect gameplay. But I just discovered a sort-of hack for the game. One of the things that counts against your score is erroneous radio calls. If you report a hostage as cooperative but they're not, or if you report a downed enemy as wounded rather than dead, you lose points. But I don't think you lose points for shooting a downed, wounded enemy. So once they're down you can shoot them again, then report them as dead, rather than watching to see if they're wounded. It's a bit evil, but I suspect actual SWAT cops do it occasionally.

And, I have to share the mission description of the mission I just finished:
Rapid deployment of tactical personnel is required to quell heavily armed, highly disgruntled auto body employees. Employees of Heather's Euro-Asian Imports have taken up arms and are strong holding the shop in an apparent protest over the break down of labor negotiations. Employees have refused to negotiate their demands: free soda pop, pizza Fridays, stock options, four weeks vacation, private office (with window), signing bonuses, and dogs allowed at work. Going tactical is the only option at this time.
This made me laugh. This kind of thing is another reason to play well-written video games. The Splinter Cell games were also laden with low-key funny moments....

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