If you ever imagined that being a SWAT officer is an exciting and rewarding profession, Target Liberty will feed you a healthy dose of reality. In this stealth/action game's world, people can't move faster than a brisk walk, civilians must often be beat on the head to comply, and the Department of Homeland Security is willing to let a team of three local boys deal with nuke-wielding terrorists on their own. There are quite a few ridiculous elements at play in Target Liberty, and the ensuing action usually boils down to repeating the same basic tasks over and over again. Yet in spite of the occasional tedium and dreary, late-blooming storyline, Target Liberty has its enjoyable moments. It just needed a lot more of them.
Target Liberty's first misstep is its story. As Kurt Wolfe, you and your "team" of two officers are involved in a turf war between rival Korean gangs in New York City. But these things really are never as they seem, are they? Eventually, the boring tale of thugs terrorizing Central Park turns into a nuclear standoff between your tiny troop and a small army of terrorists. It's not clear why the three of you are the only available specialists to handle a nuclear scare in America's largest city. What is clear is that the narrative's excruciatingly slow start ensures that you never feel terribly involved with what's going on. Never has a story of impending destruction been so devoid of suspense.
You control the action from an overhead view, moving Kurt around using the analog button. He's trailed by two officers, though you do have some rudimentary control over them. You can manually order them to various locations, have them bust down a door and toss a grenade before entering, or order them to restrain and interrogate witnesses. Issuing commands to your yes-men is simple, thanks to context-sensitive button presses, and manual movement is performed by holding the right shoulder button and moving the reticle that appears to the location you want the officers to move.
You also have some room to customize your officers. There are a few officers to choose from, and they bring different strengths to your missions. Gramps is a survey specialist, so he's better at spotting enemies from further away than the others. Subway focuses on negotiation, so he can get better information from suspects when interrogating. You can choose their weapons, and even customize whether you want them to subdue enemies without killing them or just shoot them down. At the end of each mission, you earn a score based on how many suspects you subdued, how many statuses you reported, and so on. As your score total rises, your officers get better at their roles.
It's nice to have the guys along for the ride, and the artificial intelligence does a reasonable job of keeping them helpful. But even with the AI teammates, every mission turns into a litany of the same moves, over and over. Move to a doorway. Peek under it with a mirror. Order your officers to infiltrate the room--perhaps gassing it in the process. Engage in limited firefight with a small array of enemies. Restrain and interrogate everyone in the room. Move to the next doorway. And so on. This could have been more enjoyable if the action itself was more interesting, but it's awkwardly paced and lacks intensity.