Hands-onSWAT: Global Strike Team

We take a look at the Xbox version of Argonaut's upcoming tactical shooter, complete with its newly implemented voice recognition system. New screens inside.

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At Vivendi Universal's press event in Berlin this week we finally managed to get our hands on a playable version of SWAT: Global Strike Team, which we've not really had any new information on since it was 2818160announced back in October 2001. The game, which is currently in development at UK-based Argonaut, is a squad-based tactical shooter in which you will travel all over the world to carry out missions against gangs of terrorists along with two teammates--a female sniper named Tomi Ono and technical specialist Anthony Jackson.

For the most part, you will assume the role of SWAT: GST element leader Mathias Kincaid, a former member of the US Army's elite Delta Force. In this role, you will be expected to issue orders to both of the other team members via the directional pad or, thanks to a voice recognition system implemented by Argonaut just eight weeks ago, simply by talking to them. The voice system is still relatively new to the game, but by pressing the left shoulder button and then talking into the headset that's supplied with Xbox Live we were able to issue orders to our colleagues with a minimum of fuss. No training is necessary to use the voice recognition system because it breaks the words and phrases down phonetically--the only downside is that Argonaut needs to compensate for players with particularly strong or foreign accents. The system, which is subject to change, currently requires you to press the left shoulder button, say the name of the colleague you wish to talk to, and then press the button again to issue the order. Orders in the game include such phrases as "Cover," "Open door," "Fall in," "Breach door," "Operate," "Enter and clear," "Assault fire," and "Silent fire," all of which are self-explanatory and definitely appear to have their uses in the game.

At any one time, you will have a maximum of four voice (or directional pad) orders available to you displayed onscreen, largely depending on what object or character you happen to be looking at. For example, when looking at an individual enemy, it's possible for you to have one of your teammates "Target" that enemy, and when entering a room containing hostages, shouting "Get down" will send them to the floor, perhaps affording you a better shot at the captors. That said, you will actually be penalized for using unauthorized force in the game, so enemies should only be shot if they clearly have no intention of surrendering or are pointing a firearm in your direction. In other instances, you can take enemies out of the equation by forcing them to give themselves up and then putting them in handcuffs.

Though the game is set about 20 years into the future, the weapons and gadgets in SWAT: Global Strike Team are mostly based on current technologies. Gadgets in the game will include proximity mines, satellite thermal scans, and thermal imagers, and you'll also have the ability to hack into computer systems and CCTV networks, disable alarm systems, and drill holes through walls through which to use fiber-optic cameras. Your arsenal will be varied to say the least, and in addition to the usual submachine guns, pistols, shotguns, and sniper rifles, you'll find blowguns, throwing stars, gas canisters, concussion grenades, and flashbangs.

The game will feature 21 single-player missions in total, plus 10 cooperative missions for two players and 10 different multiplayer maps for up to four players. Typical mission objectives in the game will include hostage rescues, VIP protection, raids, sensitive-item recovery, explosives diffusion, and search-and-destroy assignments. The voice recognition definitely adds an extra dimension to the game and also means that you will be able to issue your orders without having to take your thumb off the analog stick used for movement. Argonaut is planning to implement a number of other interesting sound features in the game, including radio chatter that is audible only through the earpiece rather than through the TV and a ringing in your ears that will accompany the motion-blur effect used when flashbang grenades go off.

SWAT: Global Strike Team is scheduled for release on the Xbox later this year, and, as confirmed by Argonaut today, a PS2 version complete with voice recognition is also in development. We'll bring you more on both versions of this promising game as it becomes available.

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