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SWAT: Target Liberty - hands-on

The venerable SWAT series is kicking down the PSP's door this fall with SWAT: Target Liberty, a tactical squad shooter that'll task players with rescuing hostages and taking down terrorists in a race to save New York City. Rather than try to squeeze the SWAT series' first-person action onto the PSP, though, Target Liberty takes the Killzone: Liberation route, with an overhead 3D perspective and somewhat simplified action.

The early version we played was pretty easy to get into. You'll make your way through each mission with two buddies (whom you'll pick from a pool of four), and each one has a single button permanently assigned to him; move a cursor around to where you want him to go and hit that button, and he'll do whatever you tell him. You'll also be able to pull up a small menu to issue context-sensitive commands, ordering your guys to breach doors, secure hostages or take down hostiles as needed.

Your squadmates won't just be dumb robots, either. While they seemed pretty dependent on our commands when we played, we're told that by the time the game is finished, they'll be more than capable of taking care of themselves, automatically taking cover and returning fire if things get hot. But they'll also follow whatever rules of engagement you set; if you're using a less-lethal weapon, for example, they'll automatically do the same.

Interestingly, some of the time you won't even need less-lethal weapons. It's usually a good idea to at least try ordering the bad guys to surrender - sometimes they'll actually lay down their arms, enabling you to cuff them and pocket a nice bonus at mission's end for doing things by the book. Even when things do get nasty, you won't just be able to go randomly spraying the area with gunfire; instead, each hostile will be "painted" with a button, and hitting that button will fire at the corresponding baddie.

If you'd rather just pick off enemies from a distance, you'll be able to switch to a first-person sniper view at certain points in the mission, giving you a clear, close-up line of fire at hostage-taking criminals. Given the overhead perspective's limited field of vision, though, it was disorienting to suddenly shift to a first-person view of something that had been offscreen a second ago.

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