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November 10, 2005
Pursuit Force - Review
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One of the few on-foot levels.
Pursuit Force is one of Sony's big Christmas 2005 titles and comes with a lot of anticipation. The developer, Bigbig Studios, was founded by four ex-Codemasters employees in May 2001. This game was developed with the assistance of Evolution Studios who you may know from their WRC titles on PS2 so there's plenty of potential in the developers. This is an exciting prospect on paper, but does it gel together?

In crime ravaged Capital City no-one is safe on the streets. Tensions between five rival gangs are at boiling point and the police are rapidly losing control. The city’s Chief of Police is desperate; he has tried every conventional policing tactic he knows - but playing by the rules doesn’t always get results. A new approach is needed, a new type of cop who will meet the hardened criminals with force, a cop who isn’t afraid to take justice into his own hands. The police are fighting back. In the corridors of power a secret elite division has been created… Pursuit Force – where the ends justify the means. The gangs have no idea just how heavy the hand of the law can get…

The meat of this game is the Career mode where you play a young cop. This mode sees you trying to take down five different gangs across 30 missions. These gangs include The Warlords who drive around in Army SUV's, The Capelli's who are essentially a Mafia styled gang, The Killer 66's are from the far east, the Vixens who are a group of ex-Hollywood stunt girls gone bad and the Convicts who have just escaped from a maximum security prison.

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Most levels are racing like this.
During these missions you will drive everything from sports cars to trucks, speed boats to motorbikes. Most of these missions see you trying to run down some vehicles in order to recover stolen goods, arrest suspects or protect civilians from harm. Fortunately you have a range of weapons at your disposal to help 'dispatch' any other cars that are getting in your way. What makes these driving sections quite unique is the ability to jump between vehicles. If your vehicle is damaged and about to explode, get close to another, and then jump over to it. If it has some enemies in it, pump a few rounds into them so you can take the wheel. It's quite a rush, and rather unique.

Pursuit Force is not all driving though. There is the occasional mission where you will have some on-foot action in order to take out the enemies and while these are fine, they aren't genre breaking at all. Mor exciting are the missions where you can fly in the Zephyr Sky Commander, a prototype assault helicopter. This helicopter is equipped with a machine gun and can be used to get to enemies in hard to reach places, or when you don't have a vehicle available.

When you get tired of the Career mode the developers have also included a Race mode where you have a series of 15 races to complete. It's a nice addition and will give you a couple more hours of game time, but isn't a patch on the career mode. Finally, a Time Trial mode has also been included for you to race against the clock. As you complete different missions and races you unlock items in the gallery. In all there are 42 (usually quite good) movies or pictures to unlock. You may have noticed something missing from the game modes - multiplayer. That's right there's no multiplayer option at all in the game which was a massive disappointment.

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There's plenty of action in Pursuit Force.
Without a shadow of a doubt Pursuit Force is let down by the insane difficulty. The developers even admitted that due to the short length of the missions they made them damn had. Hell even the first mission too me about 15 attempts to get past, and it was getting pretty damn pissed off. In fact its absolutely infuriating and in our opinion the difficulty in some missions actually ruins the game - fortunately we weren't crazy enough to heave our PS2 out the window, but we were damn close I can tell you. Learn from this BigBig, gamers don't enjoy replaying missions over and over and over due to a stupidly tight time limit, or insane difficulty levels. Games are meant to be fun, not frustrating. Handling of the cars is also a bit of a problem. Be it on the analogue slider stick or D-Pad the car's rarely turn as sharply as they should (perhaps a handbrake option would have been useful). This means you spend considerable time bouncing off the walls rather then heading in a straight line. Due to the tight limits you really have little option but to go flat out at all times making the walls almost unavoidable.

Graphically the game is pretty sharp. Cut scenes in the game are quite spectacular, among the best yet seen on the PSP and would probably put many PS2 games to shame too. It's quite obvious that BigBig have put quite a bit of effort into this area. In-game graphics are equally impressive with plenty of action on screen, some gorgeous explosions and nice backgrounds. Sure it's not quite up there with Ridge Racer but it's not too far behind. Interestingly there was the occasional graphical glitch, in one instance we crashed through a barrier and then seemed to be traveling off the track, underground with buildings flying above us. Most strange. Fortunately the game put us back on the road within a few seconds.

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More street racing battles.
Audio in Pursuit Force is generally very good. While the gunshots sound a little tinny through the PSP's internal speakers the music is upbeat and keeps the pace of the game perfectly. If there's one disappointment it’s that when you're racing on tracks the same comments came up at the same locations every time. This wouldn't be a problem if you were cruising through different missions all the time but when you have to continually replay the missions it becomes quite annoying.

For a game that has been in development since early 2004 it's a tragedy to see it stumbling at the last hurdle due to a lack of play testing and balancing. Exactly how casual gamers are meant to finish these missions is beyond me and as so many other games demonstrate you don't have to be infuriatingly hard to extend the life of a game. Pursuit Force is one only for hardcore gamers, or those looking for a challenge.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSNot far off the best on the PSP with nice backgrounds and effects.
SOUNDGood music but the speech becomes repetitive after a while.
GAMEPLAYRestart, restart, restart, restart, restart, restart. Get the picture?
VALUE30 missions in career mode, 15 Races and Time Trials. Good value.
OVERALLThis game pissed me off so much it wasn't funny. Technically it's good, and some of the missions are well set out, but the actualy game is so hard it ruins almost all enjoyment. Only for those desperate to play something rock hard.

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