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The Best Tactical Shooter Games Ever Made
SWAT 3 is about the best tactical shooter I’ve ever played. Where SWAT 4’s friendly AI really dragged down the experience, by comparison SWAT 3’s very capable friendly AI was a joy. And the enemy AI was just as cunning as the sequel’s baddies. Couple the fact that the campaign was super long with many different mission types, with the bundled mission editor, and you really have one heck of a game on your hands.
You can grab SWAT 3 Tactical GOTY over at GOG and Steam. In my opinion it’s one of the best the website has to offer.
Ghost Recon ditched the drawn out planning phase that was employed by Rainbow Six, and focused more on action, outdoor environments, long range combat (sniping), ballistic weaponry (anti-tank weapons), and planning on the move, to provide a more uninterrupted game with admittedly better flow and gameplay than the Rainbow Six series.
You can grab Ghost Recon over at GOG.com and Steam, although the Steam version is better because you can also buy the expansions, Desert Siege and Island Thunder.
Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear
This in my opinion is the best Rainbow Six game ever made, even though Raven Shield is said to be the greatest, or at least the last good Rainbow Six game ever made. This was just such a vast improvement over the seemingly rushed original Rainbow Six – and Rogue Spear is actually an expansion that came out the following year. It’s not even a proper sequel, seeing as it requires that you have the base game installed in order to play it.
The AI was sharper and more realistic, there were more death animations, there were more weapons. Rogue Spear had everything good from the base game, and yet so much more.
Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30
Before WWII shooters became old and nobody wanted to play them anymore, and when Gearbox was actually known for producing good games, this gem was released. It is in essence the marriage between WWII shooters and the squad based tactical shooter genre, and it is glorious.
It lacks the planning phase from something like Rainbow Six, but you have situational awareness mode instead, which lets you see the battlefield from a bird’s eye view to get a better sense of your surroundings, and what ambushes may lay ahead. This was definitely the best in the series to date, seeing as the sequel was too samey, and Hell’s Highway did away with situational awareness altogether.
Rainbow Six Vegas
This Rainbow Six is definitely different from the first games. It’s more fast-paced – it almost has a whiff of Call of Duty to it. Fiddling around in the planning phase has been done away with, and the team size has been cut down from eight to three – just you and two other guys. So there’s less in the way of micromanagement, but there’s more action, and the friendly AI is rather capable. Okay, so there’s regenerating health, and endless weapon and ammo stockpiles -- there’s no getting away from it: this is a dumbed down Rainbow Six for consoles, but at its core, it still functions pretty well, and is surprisingly good if you give it a chance.
Earlier on I mentioned SWAT 4’s lacklustre friendly AI – don’t get me wrong, this game is still very much worth a play. The level design is as good if not better than SWAT 3, and you have new gadgets to play with, like door blocks that will stop suspects from leaving an area, or even worse, sneaking up on you from behind. The control scheme is probably a little bit more intuitive this time around too.
Graphically, the game looks a tad cartoonish, especially the guns – while you have semi-full body awareness here unlike in SWAT 3, the guns just look off, too unrealistic. And the animation and physics are ridiculous. I wouldn’t say it’s of the same calibre as SWAT 3, but I maintain that it is still worth a play.
You can also try some mods with it. I would recommend Elite Force, which upgrades the AI so it's more on par with its predecessor, SWAT 3, along with some other gameplay changes to make it more challenging. There's also Remake, but I personally don't like it's graphical enhancements. You can also download lots of custom maps, although a lot of them are for Co-Op only.
Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield
I figured Rogue Spear would be the best RS title I ever played, but I think it was dethroned by this one. You still have your planning phase – in fact this was about the last game to feature it, but you have more control on the ground over your teams’ actions, like giving go codes, etc. You also get a contextual menu which allows you to give your team orders on the fly, like how to approach clearing a room up ahead, and more.
The graphics got a major overhaul from Rogue Spear, as did the animation and physics. That put it perhaps on par with Rogue Spear, but then I played the Raven Shield 2.0 mod, and with that, the game is easily better.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
Actually, even though it was the progenitor of the squad based tactical shooter as we know it, I didn’t like this game as much as I should have. I mean, I did, it’s just that it has aged terribly. The graphics were always poor, the animation shoddy, the physics non existent at that time, and the AI was a mixed bag. Sometimes they could shoot from the hip and hit you a mile away which was too unrealistic, and other times they could stand there right in front of you and they would be oblivious to your presence making them an easy kill. Its sequels, Rogue Spear and Raven Shield just outshine it in every way.
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
After Ghost Recon 2 didn’t even make it to PC, I looked forward to this game. I wanted it quite badly, but it was virtually nothing like the original Ghost Recon, which I loved to bits. Instead of taking place primarily in the woods and outback, it took place primarily in urban environments, and on a larger scale than Rainbow Six. It was a bit like playing Full Spectrum Warrior. The AI was dumb on both sides, and it was just a title I couldn’t get into it. I wanted to like it, but in the end I just couldn’t.
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