previews\ Jan 31, 2006 at 7:00 pm

Pursuit Force - PSP - Preview 2

The well-armed terrorists manage to load the explosive missile heads into six trucks and they quickly get in and drive to their destination where they will threat to detonate them in the middle of the city’s busy shopping districts. Yet as they drive erratically down the highway, a sleek sports car zigzags its way toward them with sirens wailing. The driver manages to get close enough to fire some shots into one truck but it will take more than that to stop it so the cop behind the wheel jumps out of his car and on to the truck where he blasts away at the driver to take control of the first truck. With five more trucks to stop, the cop steps on the gas. If you think this is a scene from a Michael Bay action movie, you’re wrong. This is Pursuit Force, an action-packed PSP game with fast-paced driving and shooting action.


You play a rookie Capital City police officer who just so happens to be a member of a special police unit known as Pursuit Force. Pursuit Force was formed for one specific reason: to track down and put away members of five criminal gang elements that terrorize the city and the civilian population. Whether you’re up against the Warlords (elite mercenaries), the Capellis (the state’s mafia organization), the Killer 66 (a Far Eastern gang), the Convicts (a gang of escaped prisoners) or the Vixens (a high-tech gang of female thieves), Pursuit Force is there to put a stop to them.

Luckily, though, you’ll have 10 different weapons to aid you in Pursuit Force’s quest to bring these criminals down as well as access to 55 different types of vehicles to commandeer. The game at launch will feature 30 cases (or levels) set in five different districts of Capital City but the demo we got to play featured three cases that offered a taste of the driving and shooting action as well as an introduction to the criminal scum you’ll be up against as well as the varying difficulty settings.

The first case, entitled Toxic Convoy, has you going up against the Warlords. While the case is set at the easiest difficulty setting, the situation is not a simple one at all. Here, the nameless cop you play chases down the militant Warlords that have stolen barrels of toxic nerve agent from the Ronada Airforce Base. They’re heading for Corsair Bay where they plan to hold the town for ransom but not if you have anything to say about it. In hot pursuit, you zip through the freeway traffic, careful not to hit oncoming traffic (I’ll tell you why in a minute) while attempting to stop the trucks from reaching their destination. There’s a map on the lower left-hand corner of the screen that pinpoints their exact location and how far they are to their destination so time is of the essence here.


The bad news, though, is that the Warlords have back up and they aren’t afraid to use it. The good news is that there’s a way to stop the trucks without destroying them and unleashing its deadly cargo. Your cop can jump out of his vehicle and jump on to the nearby vehicle driven by the enemy. You’ll get a heads up when you can jump on the enemy and jumping is simply a press of the O button. Once you’re on the enemy’s vehicle, you’ll have to deal with the passenger who will try to shoot you. You can duck or move to the side in order to avoid a face full of buckshot. After eliminating the passenger, you’re free to put a bullet into the head of the driver and thus be able to drive the vehicle. You will have to stop each truck before it reaches the destination.


The second case is titled Cold Contract and it has you going up against the Capelli Family. It seems that Don Capelli has sent his squad of hitmen downriver on speedboats to assassinate the delegates of the state security conference in Asten Town. You climb onboard the Super Pursuit Boat as you attempt to bring each boat down anyway you can. Again you can jump on to the enemy’s vehicle much like in the Toxic Convoy case only now it's on speed boats and the Capelli hit squad are great shots.

Finally, there’s a case called Wilde’s Boys, a case that has you going up against the wild and unpredictable Convict gang. This is the game’s only case that plays at a medium setting and it’s also one of the most difficult cases in the demo. Here you’re back behind the wheel of your flashy sports car again but the enemy is still faster and the vehicles are packed with more dangerous passengers armed with everything from shotguns to nail guns.

How does the game control, you might ask? Thanks to a smooth framerate, the driving controls feel right at home on the PSP. You accelerate with the X button while you aim with the Left trigger and fire with the Right one. You can even perform a power slide by tapping the Square button and pressing the X. Each car, of course, drives differently so expect sports car to burn rubber while trucks and other sturdy vehicles (the game promises buses and SUVs). Even the speed boats feel like, well, speed boats. In addition, while the targeting still needs to be tweaked a little, the game’s shooting sequences work well within a situation.

Each good action (stopping a bad guy’s vehicle) boosts your Justice Bar meter, a meter that, when filled, unleashes a special ability that slows down time during vehicle jumping, causes more damage and restores your health meter. You’ll even earn speed bursts when you need it most. Of course, you can also diminish the meter by crashing into civilians or causing accidents. The game also grades you at the end of each level, a feature that means you’ll get to unlock extras (a Time Trial and Race mode perhaps?) if you earn a high grade.


While the demo doesn’t give us a peek into the game’s other case types (among them the ability to battle it out on-foot or operating a mini-gun aboard a helicopter), Pursuit Force already feels like a true action fan’s dream come true. With everything from brutal car chases to high-flying car hopping that would put Mel Gibson’s Lethal Weapon character to shame. The game also looks great with plenty of environmental detail as well as explosive effects. Yet what steals the show is Pursuit Force’s nod to Hollywood action movies. Expect the Captain to bark his orders, the Capelli family to sound like classic movie goombas and the ladies (both good and bad) to look unsurprisingly hot. Then again, fans of the action film (as well as gaming genre) wouldn’t have it any other way.

We can expect Pursuit Force to speed our way on March 7, 2006.


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