You’re either SWAT or you’re not and this is well….
SWAT Target Liberty is the latest game to grace the SWAT series. SWAT has a long lineage going back to the classic Police Quest series in the 80’s.
SWAT did away with Police Quests’ point and click nature and brought into the squad based first person shooter genre, with varying degrees of success.
Your three man team are all using invisible Zimmer frames
Now it is the humble PSP owner that has been given the chance to live the life of SWAT team leader Kurt Wolfe (you never get names like Dave Smith do you!). You are in charge of a three man team of SWAT veterans. You mission, should you choose to accept it (sorry wrong game), is to rid New York of a nuclear threat. Nothing all that imaginative there.
Starting with a few training missions you quickly begin to realise that your three man team are all using invisible Zimmer frames. They move slower than your reviewer after an all you can eat Chinese buffet! Even running makes no discernable difference to your speed. I imagine that this is down to the stealth and strategy nature of the game, preventing you for just charging about killing anything that moves!!
Moving around the environment is pleasantly easy, as is controlling your team. This is achieved by giving you almost no control of what they do. This may sound like a bad thing, but actually it makes your life a whole lot easier. You can get them to cover you, to follow you, to enter and clear rooms etc. with the press of a button. Other than that you can just let them get on with it! They do serve a useful purpose in each mission, but the only trouble is that purpose never really varies. The main purpose is to shoot, as you will never get the chance. The target locking system is so time consuming you will not lock on in time to get a shot in before they do! Also you can get them to look under a door, get them to kick it in and clear or gas the occupants and then arrest or kill them.
That pretty much sums up the game play of the game. Go to a door, check it out, open it, shoot people and then arrest and interrogate those who are left. That is not to say there is nothing here though. The stealth aspects can be fun if a little awkward. Pressing your self up against a wall will make you duck for cover. You can then peak out and check out what is going on. The developers have tried to spice up the game a little by including the occasional against the clock sniper section. You have to find the suspect and shoot him in the head, without hurting his hostage, before the timer runs out.
As you progress you can change your team about and choose new weapons. Also you gain experience for you and the team. This makes them better at their jobs. This adds a kind of RPG element, but really fails to make you care about the guys!
Graphically this is a real beauty. Taking the sensible options (as seen in Kill zone: Liberation) the game has moved to an isometric over head view. This gives you a much better look at the action than third of first person can. The environments are well realized with nice little touches, like rats running about in the subway.
The same can be said for the sound. Although the one liners you get from suspects are a bit monotonous, the rest is really good.
SWAT Target Liberty is a brave attempt to put a stealth game into a world where Metal Gear Portable Ops and Syphon Filter already exist.
It does nothing wrong, but really does nothing to stand out from the crowd. Admittedly there is fun to be had bashing civilians in the head if they won’t comply, but the game gets repetitive very quickly and will only last you a few hours. With action that never feels very engaging and stealth that is a bit clumsy there are better options out there.
The Bad: Gets boring quickly, story line needed some work!, movement s far to slow