Score: 3.5 out of 5
Sony Computer Entertainment America
Rated "T" for Teen
Pursuit Force is a combination racing and combat game that offers enough variation in game play to keep you on your toes. Nothing about it is all that special, but it's good for some entertainment.
As a member of the Pursuit Force, you are assigned to bring some law and order to Capital City by taking out five criminal gangs who have overrun the city. The gangs found in the game range from the Capellis, your typical mafia crime family, to the Vixens, a group of scantily clad high tech thieves. Most of the game is centered around pursuing these gangs using various vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, speedboats, and a heavily armed helicopter. A small portion also involves some on-foot action, but those segments are few and far between. Chasing down enemy cars sounds like any pursuit game, but it gets better - you can actually lean out of your moving vehicle with a weapon to inflict some damage, and most importantly, abandon the vehicle entirely and leap onto another. The best is when you can jump out of your vehicle and onto the enemy's, all the while shooting at them in a glorified slo-mo. It reminds me a little of Mad Max, especially The Road Warrior where he's driving the truck at the end and all the bad guys are fighting with him. After grabbing onto the roof or hood of an enemy's ride, you need to work to shoot down the driver and possibly a heavily armed passenger or two to regain control, all while trying not to be shot or tossed off. The fence swings both ways though, and you may find a gang member on your hood trying to commandeer your vehicle as well. If you successfully bring criminals to justice lawfully, it will boost the "Justice Bar". Once activated, you can then slow down time during vehicle jumps, shoot at enemies in mid-air, and even restore player and vehicle health. It sounds complicated, but once you get the hang of the controls it isn't too bad.
Overall, vehicle control is just what you'd expect, except that the boats are too sluggish and the motorcycles too flighty. Smashing into other vehicles and obstacles won't destroy your car, at least right away, but they will slow you down and sometimes spin you around and put you out of the race. There are about 30 missions overall, grouped by the five gangs you need to take down. The missions range from eliminating a series of gang members in an alotted time to taking control of a bus while keeping its speed over 100 mph (how original!). BigBig does a good job of keeping the game play varied but consistent so it keep you on your toes. You always start off in your vehicle (boat, car, motorcycle), then jump to the perp's vehicles, overpower them and use their vehicle. So there's lots of changes but overall the game play is similar enough that you don't have to spend too much time trying to figure out what's going on. Each mission gives you the ability to unlock better weapons, more missions, better cars, etc. In addition to the missions there are time trials and racing levels. My guess is that it would take about 15 hours to master this game and complete all the levels.
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Pursuit Force looks and sounds good. The graphics have a strong style about them. They're not the best, but they look very good. The frame rate is smooth and consistent, although the backgrounds are a little boring and repetitive. The animations get a little repetitive, too. How many times to I have to watch my car explode in exactly the same way? I have to give Pursuit Force props for the way that the car chases are "filmed". They do a great job capturing the speed and the hectic nature of the chase, and it is plain old exciting to jump from car to car.
There are a few weird things about the game. Firstly, at the beginning of the Time Trials they say, "3-1-2" the first time and then after that it is the usual "3-2-1". Also, you can't put the PSP into sleep mode while you're in a menu; you have to be playing the game in order to go into sleep mode. That's a big deal for we gamers on the go.
Pursuit Force is more than just a racing game and with its multiple modes it's sure to entertain.