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JadeDragon's game reviews and playing tips: Sony PSP games
Read our review of the Sony PSP!

Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice

Reviewed April 2008 by Jacob Spindel

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Bigbig Studios
Release Date: January 2008
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Genre: Racing/combat
Price: $29.99

Every once in a while, a video game comes along that combines a gripping storyline with complex characters in order to provide gamers with a unique and memorable experience. But then there are other times when you just want to blow stuff up. Sony’s latest entry in the Pursuit Force series, Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice for PSP, decidedly falls in the latter category. Placing you in the role of the commander of an elite police squad (the Pursuit Force), the game delivers intense action across a variety of mission types. Although the action may occasionally get a little too intense, overall, Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice is a worthwhile thrill ride.

PoPo-Let’s-Crash!

The game’s plot isn’t especially fascinating; it involves cooperating with your rivals, the Viper Squad, to pursue a group of gangs involved in a plot to steal and detonate nuclear weapoins, including a mysterious masked gang that is apparently the mastermind orchestrating the plan. However, rather than focusing on the storyline, you’ll probably want to jump right into the action. During gameplay, you will take control of cars, hovercraft, helicopters, boats, and third-person shooter missions, in order to achieve the objectives of each case. Most of these objectives involve following or killing an enemy, escorting and protecting an ally, or both. Ultimately, your goal is to unravel the mystery and identify and destroy the leaders of the nuclear bomb plot.

The game is divided into five acts, with each act divided into several cases. Each case contains one or more objectives, such as chasing or defeating one of your enemies. One cool feature is that the game places a Checkpoint after virtually every objective, meaning that, if you fail at one objective, you won’t have to go all the way back to the beginning of the case, which keeps the game from becoming too repetitive. As you battle your way through, any positive actions you perform (like killing or arresting a bad guy) will contribute to your “Justice Meter” (if only real cops had one of those!). The justice meter can be drained to replenish your health and repair your vehicle, or you can let your justice level build up in order to gain additional strength or abilities. After completing the acts in Story mode, you can also replay the levels in Challenge mode to earn stars, which can be used to purchase pictures, movies, and other special items in the shop (there are 98 items total). Challenge mode is a nice touch because it increases the replay value even more, although the game already has a large number of expansive missions even without it.

The actual gameplay involves almost non-stop action. No matter whether you are on foot or in a vehicle, you will find yourself firing on enemies, avoiding enemy fire, and protecting other people or locations - usually all at once. Even though the game's auto-targeter works well, the number of things you will need to worry about at once borders on maddening, especially since other characters will start yelling at you if you neglect something. Harder still, some maneuvers can only be performed by entering a random series of 3-6 buttons that pops up on screen. For example, if you try to arrest a suspect, a sequence like "Triangle, Square, Circle" will pop up on screen, and you must enter the button sequence quickly and accurately (while continuing to worry about everything else that's going on).  When you consider all these items together, some objectives may seem almost laughably impossible on your first try. (It can also be a little frustrating that you cannot jump in the on-foot levels, even though you can make tremendous leaps in the vehicle levels.) Even so, you are likely to master even these objectives within about 30 minutes. The bottom line is that Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice requires very fast reflexes and strong dexterity, but if you can handle it, it is definitely a huge thrill.

Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice’s multiplayer mode supports up to four players at once, via ad-hoc WiFi.

Graphics

The vehicles, landscapes, and characters look good and are smoothly animated in three dimensions. The only noticeable problem graphically is a bit of "pop-up" -that is, far-away objects are sometimes just invisible until they move closer to you, at which point they just pop up on your screen. Since some of those far-away objects might be trying to shoot you, this is not exactly good news. However, it is not really severe enough to affect gameplay overall, especially since you have an on-screen radar that works well and can fill in occasional gaps in visibility.

Sound

The game's music fits the tone of the game well, contributing to a thrilling feeling of epic adventure. It's not exactly catchy enough to make you want a soundtrack album, but it is pleasantly exciting to have in the background.

Dialog is performed cheesily, and some of the characters even mispronounce "nuclear" (shudder!). Still, what the dialog lacks in quality is partially made up for with quantity; the game features a wide enough variety of recorded dialog that the characters provide relevant hints and correct reactions to your gameplay, without much redundancy. Besides, this is hardly the kind of game you would play primarily for its storyline or performances anyway.

Police Station Portable

Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice reminds me of a Jackie Chan movie: the plot is silly, and so are the characters, and I honestly don't really care. The game is targeted toward people who just want to cut to the chase (literally!) without worrying about the more subtle aspects of the storyline. If this is a type of thrill you enjoy, and you are prepared to demonstrate some excellent reflexes, then this game will not disappoint you.

Tips and Hints

-When you’re on foot, you cannot take an enemy’s weapon by killing him/her, but you can take the weapon by arresting the enemy. In vehicles, you cannot take an enemy’s weapon by blowing up his/her vehicle, but you can take weapons by leaping to the enemy’s vehicle and killing its occupants.

-On foot, the game will occasionally prompt you to take cover by pressing Square - but you can actually take cover by pressing Square just about everywhere, even if the game is not prompting you. It is a good idea to shield yourself from enemy fire instead of just trying to blast your way through at maximum speed.

-If you drive over a hill and your vehicle briefly becomes airborne, this will be very stressful for any passengers you may have. Thus, it is a good idea to become airborne if you are interrogating a suspect, but if you are trying to keep someone’s heart rate down, be sure to avoid any “hang time” by braking at the top of the hill.

-In Bounty Mode, the Hardcore difficulty level lets you win the same stars as the lower difficulty levels, plus additional stars beyond those - so there is really no point in playing the lower difficulty levels.

 

Screen Shots:

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Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics

The 3D graphics are slick and well-animated but suffer from mild pop-up.

Sound

Bad acting is counterbalanced by decent music and varied dialog.

Fun Meter

This game provides a thrill a minute - and sometimes more like 97 thrills per minute! The judicious use of checkpoints also minimizes the potential for frustration. As long as you can handle the intense pace, the game is fun and exciting to play.

Addictivity

The game has tons of missions involving a wide variety of tasks, along with multiple play modes to keep you coming back for even more.

Total Score= 4.25 Dragons, 85%



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