Pursuit Force

Review

posted 3/21/2006 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel

Pursuit Force is, without a doubt, the single most exciting portable game on the market today.  That's not to say that BigBig Studios' action game is as good as Burnout Legend or Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, but there is no game on the market that is as over the top with crazy stunts and explosions than Pursuit Force.  If you're a fan of racing but can't stand driving only one car the entire time, then boy do I have a game for you!

This is the story of the Pursuit Force, a special group of police officers that are specially trained to take to the streets and do whatever it takes to solve the case.  This is an elite force that is pulled straight out of a comic book or Saturday morning cartoon.  These are the soldiers you call when the crimes are especially heinous and the only people that can help are the police officers that specialize in gymnastic stunts and other Hollywood flare.

What sets Pursuit Force apart from all the other action/racing games is that it allows you to swap vehicles any time you want to.  I'm not talking about pulling somebody over and getting in their car; oh no, Pursuit Force gives you the opportunity to fling yourself out of the car and leap on to other cars, at which point you can kill the driver, kick them out of the car, and use it until you see a reason to commandeer another car. 

As you can imagine, leaping from car to car is the game's biggest selling point and most unique feature.  There has been a surprising amount of attention spent on making this aspect of the game work as advertised, and BigBig definitely gets it right.  When you jump on a car you kind of cling to it, but just because you're on the top of a car going entirely too fast (and swerving) that doesn't mean you are helpless.  Beyond shooting the people in the car, you can avoid their fire by ducking to either side of the car and righting yourself whenever you're ready to finish jacking their car.  If they are especially aggressive drivers they might try to shake you, which requires you to actually help your character stay steady so that you can kill everybody involved.

Pursuit Force owes a lot to games like Chase HQ and APB, popular arcade games that had you doing everything you could to hunt down another car and trap it.  Although there are some variations on the theme, Pursuit Force is all about hunting down multiple targets and taking them out before they get too far away.  You can do this any number of ways, including shooting them from the comfort of your car or going all out and leaping onto their vehicle and shooting out the gunmen and driver.  Either way, you need to do this before time runs out or you'll fail, people will die, and worst of all, your cranky boss will fire you.  And nobody wants that.

There are thirty different missions in all, spread evenly over five different gangs.  Each of the five gangs represents a different location and style, such as a group of military types called the Warlords and a traditional mob family, the Capelli Family.  My personal favorite has to be the group of jewel thieving women known as the Vixens.  All five of these gangs comes with their own intro movie and cool ending, all of which you can collect and watch whenever you want.

These five gangs don't just give you new vehicles to fight against; they also offer you a number of new locations to race through.  And just because there are only five gangs does not mean that you will be forced to see the same kinds of backgrounds in every stage, the game is constantly throwing new stuff at you and is a joy to play through.  In one level you will be chasing the gangs along the coast, while in the very next stage you will be jumping from car to car in a city, you just never know where you'll be going next.

If you think you're going to get sick of jumping from car to car then I have good news, Pursuit Force also features boats and motorcycles.  There are some slight control differences in controlling these vehicles, but for the most part they act just like their four-wheeled counterpart.  Jumping from boat to boat is good fun and goes a long way to add some different elements to your chases.  Some levels can't even decide what you are going to drive, starting you off with a motorcycle, getting you a car, and then having you leap onto a boat and finish your exercise on the water.

Along with these vehicles you also get a few rail levels, which have you shooting your gun out of a helicopter high above the cars.  These levels add a lot of variety to the experience, even if what you are doing is essentially the same from mission to mission.  Pursuit Force is just a good, old fashioned arcade-style game that works perfectly on the handheld.  It's great for long road trips and even better for when you just have a few minutes and want to get a couple of games in.  It has a little of everything, just as long as chasing evil doers is what you are looking to do.



There are a variations to this theme of chasing the bad guy down, one includes a Speed rip-off that has you driving a bus and forcing you to keep it above a certain speed or else it blows up.  There are other games like this that keep things fresh, but don't be fooled, Pursuit Force is really all about chasing people down, jumping from car to car, and killing gang members.  Don't get me wrong, that's not a bad thing.  This game has found something that works for it and rides it until it cannot be ridden any more.  Some may call it a gimmick, but all of the acrobatics gives this game a fresh feel that is instantly addictive.

If there are any problems with the career modes is that some levels end with non-driving sections, which come off feeling awkward and out of place.  It's not that your Pursuit Force officer has bad control, but these sections just seem tacked on and unnecessary.  You don't run into these sections too often, but every time you run into one a part of you will be a little disappointed.

Pursuit Force is a fast-paced game, but no matter how fast (or slow) you're going the controls are always tight and responsive.  Taking corners is a breeze thanks to a power slide, and racing along is effortless with the game's arcade-style controls.  This game isn't about driving simulation, it's about getting next to a car, jumping on the car, killing the people inside, and then driving it to victory.

To some this theme might get a bit repetitive, but it's a simple little game play mechanic that is fun until you overdo it.  If you get bored of all the jumping you can hop on over to the race mode, which allows you to race all of the levels you fought through in the single player career mode.  In the race they start you at the back and it's your job to finish the race in first, all with one car and no jumping.  This mode is entertaining, if only because it allows you to take in all of the scenery you were too busy to notice when you were shooting, ducking, and fighting off gang members in the career mode. 

The only other option you have is to play through the levels in a time trial, which is fun … I guess.  It's probably not the type of thing you will turn the game on to play, but it's there in case you wanted something like that.

Mysteriously absent is a multiplayer mode, which would have seemed perfect for a game like this.  With it's fun arcade-physics, cool leaping game play and nice selection of weapons, you would have thought this would be a perfect game for multiplayer fun.  But Pursuit Force ends up being one of the few PSP games to feature no Wifi support at all.  A really pity, if you ask me.

One thing you can't be too disappointed in are the graphics.  Pursuit Force looks phenomenal on the PSP's wide screen display, everything looks so beautiful and crisp.  The world whips around you at a mind-blistering speed; this is the type of game you use to show off the power of Sony's portable PlayStation.  The entire game -- from introductions, to menus, to endings -- are all top notch, they feature a very polished look that leads to one of the most satisfying PSP games I have ever played.

Thanks to the game's steep difficulty (especially towards the end of the game) this is one title you won't finish in one sitting, but it is limited in the new content it does provide.  But even after you've finished the career mode you'll still want to go back and get perfect scores on each of the levels to unlock all of the extra goodies.  And even if you've done all that, this really is the type of game you just pull out because it's fun.

Pursuit Force gets nearly every beat right, only falling short thanks to its lack of multiplayer and poor on-foot levels.  But most people should get over these minor gripes and find a game that defines the word "excitement."  If you're looking for something that's just a little different from all those other racing games, then Pursuit Force is for you.  And even if you're not a fan of racers, this might just be the type of action game that makes you a believer. 






B
Although it might look like your standard racing game, Pursuit Force is unlike any other game on the market. Its speed and energy is unparalleled on the PSP, making this one of the most exciting games you ever will play. This is one game worth checking out, even if you're not a fan of racing games!