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File:Swat4 TVTropes 8626.jpg

"Police! On your knees!"

"You're in my way, sir."
Your squadmates, all the time.

A Nintendo Hard tactical First-Person Shooter video game, developed by Irrational Games (makers of System Shock II, BioShock (series) and the Freedom Force series) and published by Sierra in 2005. It's the fourth installment of Sierra's SWAT 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.

Tropes used in SWAT 4 include:
  • AKA-47 : 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. Irrational probably couldn't get permission from H & K to name the guns after their real names.
  • Always Night : Each mission is set in the late evening or at night time.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 teammate sometimes yells that a room is clear after you've ventured only about 5 feet into it.
      • Not really. They usually 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.
    • They'll occasionally get stuck trying to walk through a door.
  • 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 human rights". Ouch.
  • Awesome Yet Practical : Your non-lethal weapons and special equipment :
    • A modified paintball gun that uses pellets filled with tear gas instead of the usual food coloring used in paintball tournaments.
    • The simple, yet invaluable Taser pistol and Pepper spray.
    • A special "opti-wand" fiber optic camera device with a small LCD display. Used for peeking around corners and under doors, in order to spy a potentially hostile area ahead from safe cover.
    • In addition to the the camera, there are the equally simple-yet-awesome Tactical Wedges. They're used for forced blocking of doors, in order to prevent the suspects from running around the building, escaping a room or getting the drop on your unsuspecting squad at the worst possible moment. They seem plain and weak, but are actually very powerful and can hold any door, as long as they're deployed under it.
    • The beanbag-shooting stun shotgun is the best weapon in the game, because one or two shots will stun any enemy, not matter how well armored. The beanbag shotgun is pretty much essential if you want to complete a mission with a perfect score.
    • Don't forget the breaching shotgun.
    • On a related note, the Boring but Practical C2 door detonators, police multitools (with stealthy picklocks and bomb-disarming pliers) and plastic quick-cuffs come in handy as well.
  • 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.
  • Better Than It Sounds
  • Black and White Morality: There are no missions where it's remotely ambiguous if suspects are guilty and high risk warrant suspects helpfully incriminate themselves when subdued so you have no questions on if you are arresting an innocent man.
  • 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: The suspects on 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:

Bulgarian Mobster : It's not what you think...we're baking cookies!

  • 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 multi-player 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.
  • City Noir : Quite a lot of it, especially in the more darker missions taking place in various crumbling urban hellholes.
  • Continuity Nod : Sonny Bonds, the protagonist of SWAT's predecessor series, Police Quest, is the chief of Fairview's SWAT training facility and your instructor in the game's tutorial.
  • 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 8.
  • 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.
  • Disc One Nuke / Game Breaker : YMMV, but 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 fired 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. Used in conjunction with the Ammo Pouch, the next piece of equipment to unlock, which doubles the amount of ammo you can carry and you have a gun that can make completely nonlethal playthroughs on all the missions not only possible, but quite easy.
    • 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.
  • Dronejam: Inverted, where it's you who's in the way of the AI characters. And they will never let you hear the end of it.
  • 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).
  • 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 environment 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). 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-armored foes, but have the downside of being able to punch through weaker materials (like wooden doors and walls or even unarmored 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 unarmored suspects.
    • One Acceptable Break From Reality in the game's 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.
    • Also, 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 Fireproof: Averted.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • I Got You Covered : Standard procedure.
  • In Name Only: The SWAT sequels that came after on consoles, are 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, its 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.
  • Law of Inverse Recoil : Averted thoroughly.
  • Made of Iron: Averted. This game is very realistic with damage values, even the fully kevlar-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.
  • Montage : The intro cutscene.
  • 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 Tarone 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.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent / 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... The briefing of the first mission mentions high capacity magazines being illegal, which limits the game's possible locations to the states of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey and New York (Height of Buildings Act of 1910 and presence of several buildings taller than its restrictions rules out the District of Columbia).
    • 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 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 Ave," which a real street in Brooklyn, and the diamond store in Mission 8 which is located on "Broadway."
  • Oh Crap: All too often in multi-player, as you're arresting you hear or see a grenade fall next to you.
  • One Bullet Clips: Averted. You only carry 3 or 4 clips for your main weapon, and your ammo is measured by the amount of bullets in individual clips 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.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic : The "America Now" terrorist group from the Old Granite Hotel mission fit this trope to a tee.

America Now member (while being cuffed) : You work for the goddamn UN or sumthin ?!

  • 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.
  • Shout-Out / Homage :
    • To movies like Se7en in the more Darker and Edgier City Noir missions.
    • To the Police Quest series, as already mentioned in the Continuity Nod entry.
    • To the SWAT series in general and Irrational Games themselves : 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 eventually replaced by 4). Both slot machines even play The Jimmy Hart Version of the games' theme tunes.
    • 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. The briefing even lampshades it.
  • Shouting Shooter Shouting at people is a game mechanic.
  • 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 - and they react accordingly. A mayor's aide will be extremely annoyed at his rough treatment, while Greek Orthodox priests reassure you they understand your concerns and gracefully allow themselves to be handcuffed.
  • Sinister Minister : Andrew Taronne from the eighth mission.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
      • 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. Listed below are the grenades and their functions.
  • Unwinnable: The eleventh mission (The Old Granite Hotel) is apparently impossible to finish if you get shot in the leg before you've diffused all the bombs, because the wound slows you down too much.
  • 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 tazer and pepper spray become somewhat useless when you get the ability to simply punch suspects.
  • 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 scenario 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.