It seems people have been clamoring for original PSP titles. Granted most games released on Sony’s handheld are of the porting variety there have been a few unique gems scattered here and there, Lumines and Tokobot to name a couple, but until recently most gamers just assumed they would continue to receive watered down versions of their favorite PS2 games. Now with the release of Pursuit Force we finally have a new franchise that attempts to capture the fast-paced action similar to a big-budget Hollywood flick. On most accounts the game succeeds but of course it is not without its flaws. Regardless it is finally nice to see something fresh on my gorgeous PSP screen that I haven’t experience in one form or another before.
Developer BigBig Studios has successfully blended two styles of game play into one that work surprisingly well together. You have the shooting aspect along with high-speed car chases that merge into a unique experience similar to any summer action flick. While some may worry about the complexity of handling these two actions at once, BigBig has really done an amazing job of making the game accessible regardless of player skill. Add all of this to the fact that the game is entirely portable and you have a truly inimitable experience that PSP fans would bode well not to pass up.
The premise is simple; you are a cop assigned to the newest branch of the department known as Pursuit Force. This unit specializes in taking down criminals via high-speed car chases all the while being equipped with the latest and greatest weapons and vehicle technology. Your main focus are five gangs scattered throughout the city that are currently running illegal operations and basically making the force look bad. Each gang has their own unique style and persona for instance the The Warlords are a rebellious military faction that is armed to the teeth with a mercenary’s dream artillery. Your main goal will be to take them down one by one until you clean up the city and bring back order.
The game is broken up into 30 missions all requiring certain ranks to attempt them. Completing earlier missions will rate your performance and eventually you will be able to tackle some of the more complex ones as you gain rank. The best part is there is no set order in which to handle the missions, feeling a bit stumped on a certain part simply take on another case until your skills in the game improve. The missions are also broken up very well, not every mission is a simple chase and destroy scenario. For instance early in the game you will be escorting a government witness to the airport while later in the game you will have to escape pursuers while blazing through the water in a high-speed boat chase, the action is mixed up very nicely.
The bulk of the game is based around car chases and BigBig has done a great job of implementing simple controls for all of the advanced functions. You will be able to hop from car to car with the press of one button. There is also an auto target feature that lets you switch between enemies, and you can even build up a special meter that lets you slow down time in order to take down multiple enemies before you even land on your destination vehicle. All of the action in the game mimics every car chase scene you have ever witnessed in the theatre and the best part is you are in complete control the entire time.
There are also diversions from the main driving part of Pursuit Force; for starters you will spend a small amount of time on foot. While these segments are few and far between they do break up the action at pinnacle moments keeping the main feel from feeling too repetitive. The downside is during these intermissions the control on foot feels a bit clunky and unresponsive, sort of like it was thrown in simply to break up the action. The developers have compensated for this with the lock-on feature, but you will still find yourself wrestling with the controls until you get the hang of it. There are also a few missions that have you manning a gun turret inside a chopper as you blaze down the highway. These play out more like an “on-rails” shooter and are a nice diversion from the usual driving portions of the game.
The overall look and feel of Pursuit Force is one of its finest aspects. The menus are super smooth and the game looks fabulous on the PSP’s incredible screen. When I saw the first screenshots of this title my first thought was, that looks like a pretty fun PS2 title, which is how nice the visuals truly are. Top that off with a rock solid frame rate and some truly stunning effects and you have one of the best looking PSP titles to date. The presentation is also top-notch; from the superbly done opening cinema to the individual personas of each gang the game certainly has class. There are also bonus unlockables for completing certain missions such as character art that can be downloaded to your memory stick, and even new tracks to drive around in the Race and Time Trial modes. There is certainly plenty to see and do in the game so PSP owners will find a plethora of reasons to keep this one loaded for months to come.
When all is said and done Pursuit Force is a great addition to the PSP library and certainly a much needed breath of fresh air from all the recent ports and remakes. With slick visuals and solid controls you will certainly find plenty to enjoy. If you are looking for a unique action title that blends the thrill of Hollywood chases with the gunplay found in John Woo movies then this game is certainly for you. Highly recommended for all PSP owners who keep complaining there are not enough original titles on the system.