SWAT: Target Liberty

The SWAT series has always had a good home on PC, where, in some circles, and through multiple incarnations, it has been reasonably well received. However, the shift in platform does not do the game any good, as what was once a great in-depth game seems to have been striped down to the bare minimum. It now stands in rather shrivelled form, as the most basic of top down shooters available for the PSP today.

Upon first impressions the game is not as bad as it turns out to be. Basic controls are well laid out, and well introduced throughout the first few sections of the game. Squad manoeuvres, such as placing your team at separate locations to gain tactical advantage, stacking them up against a door, lock picking, stealthily checking inside rooms, and familiar breach and clear commands are all easy enough to do. In fact, all the controls seem to have been well laid out, and are very easy to access without feeling in any way fiddly. Also, the levelling-up mechanic, where you upgrade your weapon selection is nice. However, after getting this right, along with the controls, the developers seem to have messed up on just about everything else.

What exactly have they got wrong? Well, sadly, there is almost too much too speak of, with many silly gameplay mistakes that ruin what could have been a good game. One of the biggest is that enemy bullets seem like they can pass through solid objects, and unfortunately yours cannot. Now, if this was a one of glitch I guess it could be overlooked but the sad fact is that this seems to happen with scary regularity, and is honestly something that I now expect to happen on almost every level in the game. If that is not bad enough then there is also the fact that many enemies will spawn right in front of you, in the same room you are in, thus giving you little to no time to react before they start shooting at you. So, before we go any further, if you just take these two flaws on their own then you will be on the tail end of many an unneeded death every time one or a combination of them pop up, thus not having very much fun at all.

However, it does not end there, as there are many more little problems to which total up into somewhat of an annoyance as well. Ok deep breath. The AI seems to just disappear on certain occasion with many enemies just standing there waiting for you to shoot them. Your team-mates seem to take well over a whole clip of ammo to take down enemies, even if they are standing right in front of them. There are numerous times you will be penalized and docked points for using ‘unauthorized force’, although it was the only thing you could have done at that point in the game. Civilians that you have just saved don’t seem to want to cooperate with you. Graphics are just a differing selection of greys, which results in each level looking very much like the last. The game does not evolve at all, with the last level almost been a retread of what you experienced in the first. None of the guns have any volume to them, and all sound like toys. Animation is laughable, with enough flaws to look silly, even on the PSP’s small screen. The main campaign is four hours long at best, which is just not enough. And finally, you never, not at one point in the whole game, get a feeling of satisfaction or excitement.

All of this is a pity really, as Killzone Liberation has shown us that this type of game can work very well on the PSP. However if you take what worked in Killzone Liberation, mix it all up, bastardise it in some way, and most likely kick it when it is down, then Target Liberty would probably be the end result. Also, as you can see by my news article from a few months back, I was a bit excited about this game, which makes the terrible disappointment that much worse.

Generic, boring, average, and not very good.

3 out of 10
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