The PSP has been a little disappointing thus far, but a few recent games have really turned the tide and shown why the PSP will probably, in the end, become the premiere handheld system. Pursuit Force is one such game and has been hyped ever since the system was first announced, with Sony putting a lot of clout and money behind this new development studio and title. Thankfully for Sony, it has paid off as Pursuit Force combines some of the best arcade action on the PSP, with a truly retro style that will remind you of some famous games.
Pursuit Force is set in Capital City, a metropolis ravaged by crime for years. After years of putting up with the crime, the police chief has decided to enlist a new force to rid the city of the crime surge, and of course that force is the Pursuit Force of which you become a part of. The rest of the team run reconnaissance for, you such as the female helicopter pilot who helps you find the enemies, and the boss who gives the orders. The story plays out quite well, and the cut scenes are extremely well done, in fact this game features perhaps the best cut scenes and storyline presentation we have seen on the PSP yet.
Pursuit Force offers a combination and on foot action and in many ways reminds us of GTA. It is played from a third person perspective but really, to call it a GTA clone would do it no justice as the developers have put a solid effort in and have created a mix of arcade and driving gameplay which makes it a game which not only suits short spurts of gameplay as a portable game should, but one which is also hard to put down once you start playing.
The game basically consists of a number of missions which gradually get harder. As you increase in rank, more missions are unlocked and you're expected to do more. On average, each mission lasts around ten minutes, making it perfect for a quick game while traveling. The missions are usually divided into two or three quadrants, which mixes the gameplay up as sometimes you will be in vehicles while other times on foot. There are five gangs to take down in the whole game and each has a different way of approaching the missions. For instance, the Grunts are more likely to use heavy weapons as opposed to driving skill, while other gangs rely on numbers more than brains.
One of the coolest features of the game and what makes Pursuit Force so unique is the jumping mechanic featured heavily throughout. Basically you can jump from vehicle to vehicle, removing occupants and taking them over. If your car or boat begins to get damaged, you can jump onto a civilian or enemy car and commandeer it to continue the mission. This makes the game feel extremely fast paced and is what keeps the game fresh mission after mission. There are many games PF seems to be inspired by such as Interstate 76, but it is this mechanic which shows the truly unique gameplay oozing out of this title.
Throughout the game you will come across many different vehicles to commandeer such as cars, boats, trucks and others. Each has unique attributes which can either assist or detract from the current mission goal. For instance, with timed missions, using high powered, low armored cars and bikes is the best option to get there in time, but during survival or elimination missions, armor and bulk is the way to go. Again, this keeps the game fresh and has you constantly guessing about the strategy to use for the upcoming parts of each mission, depending on the traffic surrounding you.
One of the most impressive aspects of the game by far is the variety of environments. Considering the PSP's limitations it would have been easy for the developers to just focus on one type of environment and city, but instead they have given gamers a huge variety and interesting courses to tackle with tough jumps and many obstacles to encounter. This in turn leads to the graphics which are as expected some of the best seen on the system yet. The only flaw we can see with this area of the game is the frame rate sometimes becomes a bit under smooth, but it never becomes a slideshow and always remains acceptable. Sound effects are well done and to hear voice acting of this quality on a handheld almost makes it a crime to use headphones.
Pursuit Force is a game that probably wouldn't work on the main consoles but is perfectly suited to handheld gaming. The development team has done an excellent job in combining fast paced racing gameplay with a unique game mechanic and a bit of action thrown in as well. Pursuit Force really is the first must own PSP game and will hopefully be the first of many quality handheld original games for the system.