SWAT Force has a lot of potential, but ultimately it stumbles...
SWAT Force does its best to recreate the SWAT action of its PC cousin (SWAT 4), but unfortunately fails, for the most part. The game doesn't fail because of the current limitations of the mobile platform - SWAT Force showed me that an excellent 2D, tactical shooter with an emphasis on gadgets and subduing (rather than killing) enemies is very doable. This just isn't that game. The groundwork is here, but the execution is extremely lacking. Here's to hoping SWAT Force 2 (should such a game be announced) is the game that SWAT Force should have been.
SWAT Force's most striking feature is its excellent visuals. Your two-man SWAT team is represented by large, detailed 2D sprites, as are the numerous terrorists, robbers, and hostage-takers encountered throughout the game's seven missions. There are also a good variety of indoor and outdoor locations - it doesn't seem like much artwork was reused or recycled often. The same praise can't be given to the game's audio design, however. As near as I can tell there's literally no sound in the entire game. No music, and no sound effects for grenades, gunfire, flashbangs, or anything else. It's unacceptable and jarring, especially given the quality of the visuals.
Gameplay itself is easy enough to pick up and understand. The primary member of your two-man team is the "artilleryman," who essentially carries the firepower. Supporting him is the "expert," who handles all the finer tasks, such as defusing bombs, picking locks, and hacking computer terminals.
SWAT Force's big problem is that none of those tasks are nearly as cool or fun as they sound. When checking a door for explosives, your expert will either give an all-clear, or tell you the door is mined. The initial check and the mine defusing itself is handled by selecting an option from a menu. So is everything else in the game. Need to defuse some C4? No timing-based minigame for you. You simply select "defuse" from a menu. You open doors, lob grenades, hack the aforementioned computer terminals, and do just about everything else in the game simply by selecting it from an action menu.
The artilleryman's actions actually have a little more real gameplay involved, but not much. Firing is accomplished with the center button, but you can "compel" enemies to give up and put down their weapon instead by rapidly tapping three. No ducking, no jumping, no weapon switching.
This bare-bones game design extends beyond the exceedingly menu-based control setup. SWAT Force contains seven missions, but all seven are available from the start, with no indicator of what missions you have and haven't cleared. At each missions' start you're provided only the most basic of instructions - "Rescue both hostages" and "Defuse the two bombs" are a couple examples. I cleared all seven missions during one stay at a coffee shop, to boot.
Some basic ideas for a sequel: a storyline to string the missions together, actions like computer hacking or bomb defusing performed via brief minigames, enemies displaying at least some AI, and the ability to find and equip different weapons/ammo. SWAT Force had a lot of promise, but stumbles in too many basic areas and is too short to be of much value.
What's Hot: It looks fantastic
What's Not: Gameplay is almost non existent, unrewarding, and brief