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Author Topic: Battle of the tactical FPSs: Raven Shield, Vegas, SWAT.  (Read 4709 times)


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Battle of the tactical FPSs: Raven Shield, Vegas, SWAT.
« on: August 17, 2009, 11:10:10 AM »
Tina and I play all sorts of games, but one of our favorite genres is the tactical first-person shooter.  It's slower paced than your typical run and gun, but creates a great sense of urgency and intimacy in engagements that you just don't get jumping from one frag to the next like a hopped up crack monkey.

I am going to compare three of the best ones we've played on PC.

Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield

+  Very realistic approach to weaponry and damage.  Dying in 1 or 2 hits forces you to think and play cautiously (surviving a hit makes you gimp).
+  You can lay down prone and commando crawl for accuracy and smaller footprint at the cost of mobility and visibility.
+  Coop is awesome in terrorist hunt - you can have up to 3 extra respawns per character.
+  Audio cues are great.  You can hear enemies walking on floorboards above you.  You can lure them out by rattling off a shot or two.

- There is no recovery, so getting gimped early means you walk slow and have bad accuracy till you die.  Pretty annoying.
- Enemy AI can be iffy at times.  It can actually be pretty funny.
- You figure that as a trained specialist, you could get up/switch weapons quicker.  Not to mention survive a 2nd story jump.

Notes:  This was the game that got Tina and I into this genre.  It's pretty old now, but this game has a feel that can't be replaced by any other.  There is a definite sense of worry about the consequences of every move you make.

You can't play story mode cooperatively.  But you can play terrorist hunt together which is tons of fun.  What we like to do is have max terrorists, but also give ourselves squads.  Technically, the squad is supposed to follow you around and do stuff for you, but we use them as our "extra lives".  You can have them hold position in a safe place and then if you get killed, you will automatically switch to the next live squad member for another chance.  You still have that urgency to play it safe, but at least if one of you run into an ambush, that person has a few more chances without having to sit out the rest of the match.

Swat 4:

+  Well-developed storylines really make the missions memorable.  For example, one has you tracking down a serial rapist/murderer while another has you trying to stop a baby-killing cult that plans to blow up the city.
+  There are other factors on the table such as non-lethal weapons, arresting suspects, and securing evidence.
+  Really gives you a sense of how difficult it is to be an officer and moral choices on whether or not to abuse authority.
+  You actually take damage according to where you got hit and the effects will represent that.

-  Officer tasks get really tedious after a while (reporting everything, collecting everything, equipping handcuffs and having to cuff all of the civilians in addition to the people with guns).
-  The only way to get high marks is to apprehend suspects without deadly force.  Let's just say when your enemy has armor piercing machine guns, good luck taking them down with a pepper ball gun and a taser.
-  You have to rely on your team for many tasks.  I've had my entire team wiped out attempting to clear a single room just from random bad luck.

Notes:  There are a couple levels in this game that are simply amazing because of the atmosphere and background provided.  Namely, the ones I mentioned above.  I'll never forget breaking into the house of the serial rapist - only to have his mom tell me that he'd never hurt anyone.  In the background you have news reports talking about women missing, mutilated bodies, etc.  Then you find this door that leads to the basement...  Unfortunately, there aren't many levels this intricate and mostly you'll be stopping simple robberies/hostage situations where it's very ho hum.

The coop, while there, isn't very good, especially for couples.  You lose your teams and you get no respawns.  This means if someone gets ambushed at any point in the level, they sit out the rest of the game.  You can play the story mode together, and the first few shorter missions are pretty fun.  But after that, it just gets too frustrating when one person has to sit out the rest of the match just from one random second of bad luck.

Rainbow Six: Vegas (1 and 2)

+  Much faster pace with excellent use of cover system.
+  You can play terrorist hunt in coop and in Vegas 2 you can also play the story mode in coop.
+  You can recover from damage and usually have time to run/take cover from bad situations.
+  Enemy AI is pretty good and keeps things interesting.

-  The changes to gameplay, while pleasant from a pure gameplay perspective, kill most of the tactical feel of the game.
-  Most enemies "spawn" in at predefined trip areas in both terrorist hunt and story mode.  They instantly know where you are, which makes for intense firefights, but again, knocks all covert strategy off the table.  Sometimes they spawn way too close to you.
-  No commando crawl.

Notes:  If you are trying to break an avid FPS twitch gamer into tactical FPSs, this is the way to go.  This game bridges the gap by being a hybrid of run and gun and tactics.  The firefights can be intense and the AI can give you quite a run for your money.  It's a love and hate for me.  You still need to steady your aim for accuracy, so the twitch gamer in me is unsatisfied.  Advanced breaching and covert tactics are mostly off the table, so the tactical gamer in me is unsatisfied.  Yet, the game is still extremely fun, especially with a friend.  I still wish they leaned a bit more towards the tactical side, but nonetheless there are good times to be had here.

Tina and I played through the campaign in Vegas 2 together and it was fun.  But the long-term replayability comes from terrorist hunt.  As a duo, it's simply a joy to tackle a map where terrorists outnumber you 25 to 1.  You get a set number of player respawns depending on difficulty and on normal difficulty we find the challenge to be just about right.  I really hate how much they rely on spawn points for the enemies.  They really should have mixed in random patrols and static enemies together with the location spawns.  It can feel really scripted.  However the shooting can definitely be intense and exciting.  Especially when the enemy is trying to flank you and you rely on your partner to have your back.


All three games have their merits.  If you want the purest, old school tactical game, go with Raven Shield.  If you like mission background and realistic rules of engagement, go with SWAT.  If you aren't quite patient enough to slave over tactical details and just want exciting firefights with more focus on using cover and situational awareness rather than jumping around spamming a rocket launcher, go with Vegas.

For the most part, Vegas 2 is the game we still play even today.  But it's also the newest, so I can't say it's strictly due to taste.  I would love to see a modern update to Raven Shield that still focuses on tactics above all.  But in today's demographics, I realize this is unlikely.

All of these games can be acquired on the cheap currently, so if you are tired of the same old FPS frag fests, you might consider giving one of these games a shot.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2009, 11:39:45 AM by Mark »


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