SWAT: Target Liberty (PSP) Reviews

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SWAT: Target Liberty (PSP)

By: Rex Inego | Mar 31, 2008 04:09 PM

Ever since the first instalment of the SWAT series back in 1995, the relatively unknown franchise has strived for recreating the tactical intensity of the police force and, after six prior releases, Target Liberty attempts to bring the action to the small screen. With each release the games have drastically improved and yet, despite the power available to utilise under the PSPs hood, this particular iteration feels messy, clunky and downright old-fashioned.

In Target Liberty you take control of Kurt Wolfe of SWAT. With a small team of operatives you are first tasked with investigating a hostage situation but, as the story plods on, it eventually becomes a full-scale terrorist war between rival gangs in the middle of the city. It sounds rather exciting but, for a storyline penned by the man behind The Shield, events take far too long to unfold. Speaking of excitement, SWAT: Target Liberty seems to be devoid of any.

Although quite a bold statement, the simple fact is that 3G Studios have developed an incredibly dull and linear experience. Comparisons can easily be made to Rainbow Six in an isometric view due to the tactical nature of the game: Both offer tactical decisions, stealth and gunfights, but only Rainbow Six manages to balance them correctly and with enough variety. In SWAT, tactical decisions are rendered totally irrelevant largely thanks to your two team members, who will promptly restrain or eliminate every target before you even consider your course of action. Though using non-lethal force after spying on targets by looking underneath a door sounds very tactical it is completely unnecessary because your team mates will simply do it for you. For the same reason, stealth and gunfights also quickly become the same situation of running into a room and having your team mates shoot everyone.

A typical scene in SWAT: Target Liberty.

What does that leave you to do? If you actually wanted to shoot something youҒd first have to wrestle with the frustrating lock-on system and then fire a weak-sounding gun to either stun or kill the enemy. The latter is probably more fun but the game strongly discourages lethal force. After stunning an enemy you must then restrain them and interrogate them, only to be given a pre-scripted text and audio response that soon grow very tiring. Civilians must also be handled in the same, mundane way and the problem with Target Liberty is that this incredibly boring activity is the entire basis of the game. Between the occasional gunfights, each level is a patience test of getting from one end of the map to the other, stopping every few seconds to restrain someone. One level essentially becomes every level and the only difference between them is the admittedly-detailed setting. The game isnt content with its own tedium levels yet though, not until it puts you in control of a character that walks at snailҒs place with an alternative running command that feels so slow that it looks as if your speed has actually decreased.

Whilst the interrogation aims to bring boredom, the fire fights aim to bring pure frustration. As mentioned, the lock-on system is almost useless in a fight with more than one enemy and the games excuse for a cover system is a broken, unresponsive mess, covering when unintended and refusing to do so when a rain of bullets are flying at you. There is no button for cover because youҒre required to simply push the directional button into the direction of the cover, be it an overturned table or a filing cabinet, but it is the very reason behind this incredibly aggravating problem. Of course, most of this is rendered pointless because, like before, your team mates will do most of the work for you. Indeed, SWAT: Target Liberty is probably the first game in which good AI is detrimental to the overall game.

There is room for customisation in this game but it never feels like it has an effect on the dreary experience. Being able to choose weapon sets and skills for your team mates are nice but why should you bother when it doesnt create a noticeable change? Similarly, unlocked skills for your squad certainly donҒt make themselves known; theyre still going to do everything for you.

Standing at around five-to-six hours in length the campaign is hardly epic but just one hour of the same, arduous tasks is enough to put off even the most resilient gamer. Replay value is none-existent simply because Target Liberty is a chore before even reaching the end of the very first play-through and any thought of doing so again for unlockable artwork and FMVs is quickly banished. The multi-player offerings are slim and, like the campaign, each character moves insultingly-slow.

In terms of presentation the game is far from special. As stated previously, the scenery for each level is highly-detailed but the visuals themselves are drab and lurking with jagged edges and tearing textures. The cut-scenes that take place before the start of each mission feature sub-par voice acting on the most standard of characters and each one takes a very long time to load. Combine all of this with some terrible sound effects and looping, repetitive music and it feels like the 90Ғs all over again.

Locations are varied but drab.

Pros: - Varied locations - Decent AI

cons: - Overly-linear - Dull to look at - Incredibly repetitive - Slow pace offers no excitement - Far too many annoyances

conclusion: Itís extremely difficult to think of any positives when speaking of this game. With so many annoyances working against it there is virtually no fun to be had at all. It fails to find a good balance between shooting and tactical approach but if it did the amount of niggling features would probably hinder the game beyond playability anyway. Short, linear and downright tedious, SWAT: Target Liberty just isnít worth your time or money.

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