Is it getting hot in here?

Gardner here, back by popular demand. OK, maybe you didn't exactly demand me to write another TWAI article, but Ken and Mer are off taking a much-deserved vacation somewhere in paradise. As jealous as that makes us all, there is a bright side: things are definitely looking up. On several levels. The end of what was one of the worst winters I can remember has finally given way to spring and one of the most exciting times in Irrational's history.

For the 3+1/2 of you out there that weren't already aware, we just finished publishing our first title, Freedom Force vs. The 3rd Reich. I can't even begin to tell you how nervous the entire process made us. It was a huge step to say the least. Thankfully, the part that I view to be the most nerve-racking - waiting for the reviews and feedback from our fans - has been about as positive an experience as can be. The fantastic reviews continue to pour in and the dark cloud of anticipation has finally broken up. Kind of like this winter purgatory.

As if that wasn't hot enough, SWAT 4 is a mere two weeks away from hitting stores. I suppose I should have nerded out and used some sort of PR speak and said something like: "SWAT 4 is ready to breach bang and clear its way into stores on April 5", but I figured I'd spare the lot of you. However, I will NOT spare any of you from a thorough beatdown online when this game comes out. Trust me, you won't even know where you're getting tased from.

In all seriousness, I cannot wait to play some new people and see what cool tactics you all have lined up. It's always a huge reward to see people playing your game in ways you never imagined. I picked up some interesting tidbits from jumping into the beta from time to time. Stuff that I'll surely be using in the SWAT 4 Ladder that Meredith discussed in last weeks column. That is, if I'm good enough to make the cut here when we have our internal contest to figure out who's going to compete in the official ladder. Keep your fingers crossed for me; it can get pretty brutal in here when we play.

Speaking of brutal, Jason Ocampo gives brutally awesome hands-on impressions with the final build on gamespot today. How was that for a transition? Anyhoo, I'm not one to throw around quotes like Meredith, but I found one particularly sexy:

"Like some of Irrational's other recent games, SWAT 4 seems very promising right out of the box. And once again, Irrational is looking like it's one of the most versatile development studios in the industry with its ability to develop games in so many different genres."

I don't care what Mother Nature has planned, it's quotes like that that leave little doubt that things are heating up at Irrational.

--- Bill Gardner