One big problem with the game is that all of the missions seem to play out the same way. While you may have different objectives that you have to complete, most of them are too similar to one another to take away from the tedious nature of the title. What it comes down to is that most of the missions have you ridding the level of enemies and then taking down the leader (who just so happens to be holed up at the furthest room from where you start). Sometimes it doesn't matter if you kill him or not, while other times you will need to take him alive. Either way, you're doing pretty much the same thing in every level, which can become repetitive quickly.
That's not to say that there isn't some variation, some levels try to inject some urgency by adding timers and other mechanics that will keep you on your toes. For example, in one level you are forced to take down all of the enemies in non-lethal means so that you can get them to radio their superior and check in. According to the timer you only have 90 seconds between check-ins, if you happen to go over that 90 second limit the leaders will know something's up and you will fail that mission. Thankfully there are plenty of enemies to subdue, so getting from point A to point B is never a problem. This is an interesting wrinkle in the mission, but it's hardly the kind of thing that takes away from the fact that you're basically just rushing in, restraining bad guys and getting out.
While the missions may not change much from level to level, the locations certainly do. The good thing about basing your game in the New York City area is that you will always have recognizable locations to recreate. As you might imagine you will be swept away from some landmarks as Grand Central Station, Coney Island and Central Park. And when you're not sneaking around major tourist traps, then you're checking out generic locations, such as an abandoned hospital, a subway station, or some warehouse. While these levels definitely look different, they seem to play out in the exact same way. At the end of the day you are forced to hide behind debris lying around, subdue your enemies, save the civilians, and then make your way to the main bad guy.
All this would be fine if you weren't forced to play as the slowest man on Earth. Now I realize that this is a stealth action game, so you don't want to rush into battles or anything, but the pace of this game is unbearably slow. Your character's lethargic stride will put you to sleep if you have to do any kind of backtracking, and you better pray that you didn't accidentally leave some guy unsecured back at the start of the level. The game does come with a run button, but I assure you that they use the word "run" very loosely. Your character doesn't run so much as he goes slightly faster. To put it in perspective, at his fastest your character doesn't even get up to the speeds of a senior citizen speed walker. I've seen slugs cover more ground than Kurt Wolfe.
To add insult to injury, the entire SWAT: Target Liberty storyline can be completed in less than five hours. The game itself is not especially hard, so you'll find yourself breezing through most of the levels without even losing a guy. To the game's credit, there will be people who will want to go back through these levels and make sure they didn't miss a single thing. But I suspect that the completist mentality is rare and that most people will be done and finished with the product once the credits roll.
The game does come with a few multiplayer modes, assuming you have friends who own copies of SWAT: Target Liberty. The game packs in three different four-player games, including Football (where the players compete to see who can bring the most hostages back to the base), Rodeo Round-Up (where the players compete over who can kill the most hostile enemies), and The Great Escape (where one player is a SWAT officer and the rest are terrorists trying to get past him). While you can have some fun with these three modes, the truth is that there are far better multiplayer games on the PSP.
Unfortunately SWAT also fails to impress when it comes to the presentation. The visuals here are small and bland, and the different locations are just too dark and boring. The game isn't terrible looking by any means, but this is definitely not the kind of game you would use to show off what the PSP can do. The best thing you can say about the visuals is that they get the job done, nothing more and nothing less. The sound is also dull. While the music is alright and the game has solid sound effects, there are just too many times when you will have to listen to the same voice sample used to represent different people. Worse yet, the voice acting isn't very good and does a terrible job of conveying how urgent this whole situation is.
At its best SWAT: Target Liberty is a messy stealth action game that tries to bite off more than it can chew. If you're looking for a game that is boring, repetitive and offers clumsy controls, then SWAT may be right up your alley. Everybody else should avoid this game and check out Killzone Liberation or the two PSP Syphon Filter games instead. If you're like me and this is your first experience with the SWAT series, then chances are you're going to come away from this game confused by why everybody has been bragging about this series for more than a decade.
If you feel that the PSP is a weird place for the popular PC franchise, SWAT, then you aren't alone. This is a messy game full of small graphics, a boring story and repetitive action. I'm sure there are people out there that will find this kind of thing exhilarating, but even they will be bummed out when the game only lasts five hours.
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