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PSP Fanboy review: SWAT Target Liberty

How unfortunate that at the same time we received our review copy of SWAT: Target Liberty, we also received our review copy of Sony's upcoming SOCOM Tactical Strike. The differences between the two titles only accentuate SWAT's significant shortcomings. It's not a bad game per se, but when compared to other offerings in the PSP library, it doesn't offer much. Neither tactical enough to be a thinking man's shooter, nor action-packed to be a fun arcade shooter, Target Liberty falls somewhere in between, and fails to really engage the player.

SWAT's convoluted story line takes place in a poorly-represented New York City. At first, players must engage warring Korean gangs that have civilians in the crossfire. Inexplicably, the fights will have you gunning through subway stations and office buildings in a search for a ... dirty bomb constructed by Islamic fundamentalists? The story is haphazardly constructed and does little more than magically transplant your team from one locale to the next.

The main star of the game is Wolfe, and at his disposal are three squad mates (two of which can be used in each mission). Theoretically, you can change weapons and characters, but there's almost no compelling reason to do so. Each mission can be tackled with the same gear and the same characters, thereby greatly reducing the amount of "tactics" the game should have.

Really, the game doesn't offer much for the strategic player. Levels consist of crawling through fairly linear environments shooting at enemies whilst smashing Triangle to yell at them. There's very little reason to take cover, especially when your overly aggressive AI teammates seem to strike down everything that moves fairly well. Weapons don't really matter, except when key players must be taken without being killed.

One of the focal points of the game is how you infiltrate doors. You will be able to put a mirror under a door and see if something is beyond it. At that point, you can pick locks, bust down the door, and choose to throw in grenades. This provides a little bit of variety at first, but becomes a tedious chore when facing door after door. Ultimately, it seems more efficient to simply run through a room and start shooting everything in sight. Thankfully, most enemies won't put up much of a fight, as they apathetically put down their weapons and raise their arms in the air.

Everyone you encounter, civilian and terrorist alike, should be subdued and interrogated -- and this becomes a chore quite quickly. If interrogation was limited to a few points, and a more engaging method of gameplay was used, it would've certainly had more longevity to it.

The gameplay isn't really terrible. However, it lacks depth to maintain interest for more than an hour or so. The graphics can be viewed the same way. Far from displeasing to the eye, the game does very little to advance the graphical capabilities of Sony's handheld. Environments are very large, but character models are poorly constructed, and environments look quite lifeless. A glaring flaw that should be noted is the lengthy load time for each level. Once a level is loaded, the game will mostly run without a hitch. However, waiting for up to thirty seconds for a level is somewhat unacceptable by today's standards.

Finally, did we mention this game is short? Yes, there are multiple difficulties and collectibles scattered throughout each level. However, there's very little compelling reason to play through the game more than once.

Ultimately, SWAT: Target Liberty isn't a bad game. But, it's far from being a good one. Its basic, rudimentary gameplay may appeal to some. However, those looking for the depth expected of a SWAT title will find themselves sorely disappointed.

PSP Fanboy Score: 6.0

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