Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice Hands-On
We get some hands-on time with this upcoming car-jumping sequel for the PSP.
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Pursuit Force for the PSP was met with mixed reactions when it launched last year. Its visuals were solid, the gameplay was fun, and it had some innovative features, such as the ability to commandeer other vehicles at speed. The latter was one of the better-thought-out dynamics--you could leap from your patrol car to your assailant's vehicle, kick him out, and then continue the chase without breaking pace. This became more than a one-off tactic and was used to huge success when your vehicle had taken one too many knocks, was about to blow up, and you needed a replacement. Unfortunately, one of the biggest criticisms from both reviewers and gamers of Pursuit Force was its difficulty level. The curve was steep, and left it sitting a couple of notches above challenging. You were forced to sit through the same cutscene over and over while you waited to retry that level you couldn't finish.
Thankfully, developer Bigbig Studios seems to have taken the feedback from gamers on board. The version of Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice we played at the eGames & Entertainment Expo in Melbourne last week was considerably more accessible both to first-timers and to those willing to give the sequel a shot. Returning gamers will notice that not much has changed in the interim, with both the visuals and the control scheme remaining the same as before. You use the PSP's analog stick to steer and the right shoulder trigger button to shoot at targets in range, and when prompted by an onscreen icon, you tap the circle button to scramble onto other cars and trucks. Like the previous game, Extreme Justice retains the arcade feel that made the original a hit. Vehicles all have a unique feel to their driving, meaning that if you're steering a truck through a busy street, you'll need to plan your turns early, while in the smaller, zippier patrol cars you can veer at the drop of a hat and still come out mostly unscathed.
Regardless of whether you're doing a second tour or coming into the franchise for the first time, the storyline remains pretty consistent. You play as a cop defending the generically named Capital City from all manner of thugs. The opening scene in our hands-on demo saw us chasing down an out-of-control fire truck as it smashed its way through suburban streets. Our job was to catch and then activate a control panel on the back of the truck before jumping aboard. Here we needed to forcefully dispatch the driver before kicking him out of the cabin and driving to the end of a course. Another mission saw us in a similar role, requiring us to speed through the streets in our patrol car and take out multiple suspects and their vehicles. Our demo didn't include any of the third-person on-foot shooter action from the first game, but given how closely this game seems to mirror the original, we wouldn't be too surprised to find out that the final game will include the mode, even if it's not the major focus of the gameplay.
Wannabe cops don't need to wait long to get their hands on a gun and badge when the game ships this November in the UK, in December in Australia, and in January 2008 for the US.