Sony needs a killer christmas app for the PSP; a title that you simply cannot get anywhere else - whilst Burnout is arguably one of the greatest titles on the handheld, the same experience can be found on the consoles. The PSP has some decent titles, but there is no title that has been hyped up more than Pursuit Force (except maybe Liberty City Stories) so, as we sat down to review the title we were understandably excited - this game is exclusive to the PSP, and we aren't likely to see it appear anywhere else. So does the game live up to the expectations or have the developers commited a serious crime?
Details on Pursuit Force have been somewhat scarce, so we jumped into the game (after an extremely promising cut-scene) not really knowing what to expect. The main menu consists of a few options, race, time trial and career being the most notable. There is also a section for unlockables but we'll mention that later on. The race and time trial modes are locked at the beginning, and slowly become unlocked as you play through the career mode; which is where you'll spend most of your solo campaign.
Players take control of a young, cocky street cop (is there any other), who is charged with the task of bringing down five of the cities most infamous gangs. Initially there are two gang choices available, the Capelli family and the Warlords. There are six missions in each gang, which brings the total to thirty missions. Each gang (and subsequent mission) is unlocked by ranking up. Players start as an officer, so, for example to unlock the fourth mission you must be ranked a Sergeant.
We were a little wary about how long the game could hold our attention, but that thought was forgotten when we played through the first three missions, which consisted of a boat race, a race to the finish and a elimination race. The developers appeared to have recognised that the game had the potential to become repetitive, and have structured the missions accordingly. However, despite the variation the missions do start to become a little familiar as you progress through the game. Even with the on foot missions you're still racing and shooting.
There is a lot happening on screen in the game, and a lot of controls to learn. The controls are slowly introduced in the first few missions, which is thankful because it would be impossible to learn everything at once. Players can shoot by pressing the R button and hop from vehicles by pressing the circle button. Jumping onto another vehicle can cause time to slow quickly, (depending on your rating) but not as slow as in say Max Payne. It is done well, so the feature doesn't become a chore.
Surprisingly, There is no handbrake in the game. The default controls encourage you to use the directional pad for handling, but if you desire you can change it and use the analog nub. The handling with the analog nub is surprisingly similar to with the directional pad and on the whole it feels very solid. However several of the vehicles you come across handle absolutely terribly, which sours the experience a little.
As we mentioned above, the game features a justice system. The justice system went a little un-noticed until we accidentally pressed the triangle button. The bar rewards players for being an honest citizen. The choice between being a honest citizen and getting a reward, or being ruthless and possibly completing the mission quicker is up to you. The justice bar affects your gun power and how fast you regain your health, which in turn gives you the opportunity to access better weapons. You will need a full justice bar to be able to perform slow-down while jumping between vehicles.
Features wise, we can imagine the UMD is fairly full - the only real notable exemption is the lack of any multiplayer mode. A simple two player mode would have been a good addition. This would have made the game a little more appealing if you prefer to play with someone else. Just about every other PSP title supports multiplayer in some way, shape or form, so its absence is really noticable.
The gameplay is a little hit and miss as well, which is a bit of a shame. The game uses an auto aim system, and at times during the game your character will aim at the wrong enemy, which is frustrating in high intensity races. There is a little slowdown when we picked up the pace and we also noticed some graphical glitches, such as characters driving into walls, or cars going past the borders of a track accidentally; which makes the game feel a little unpolished.
However, on the positive front the game remains fairly fast (except when there is the noticable slowdown), jumping from cars is highly addictive and a very unique idea and the variety of driving modes is to be commended. Loading through the game isn't too much of an issue, although it does exceed thirty seconds after a mission has been completed, race restarts are basically instantaneous.
Whilst it may seem like an unjustified complaint, each event can go for a little longer than we'd hoped as well, it is common for missions to have more than one objective, and if you fail the mission then you must restart from the very beginning. Missions are also a little long at times, so those who like to play the PSP on the move will be better off sticking to the arcade or time trial modes.
Graphically the game is fairly impressive. The cut scenes are a brilliant addition to the game, and there is more to be unlocked, they can also be viewed at any time. The cities are fairly populated and there is a lot happening on screen at once, aside from the occasional slowdown the game maintains a fairly sturdy frame-rate. All the cars look detailed and the tracks vary from snow levels to urban settings.
The sound in the game starts well but slowly degrades, and the stereotypical harsh chief becomes a little repetitive. If you play through each mission once then the banter is clever and appropriate to the action, but every time you fail and have to replay a mission you have to hear the same voicework at the exact same time during the level, which puts a damper on things.
Those who like to collect everything will find a total of forty two items to unlock - these mainly consist of character art and videos. As well as this the thirty main mission modes last a lot longer than you'd think because the game is fairly hard, it definitely isn't a walk in the park, and you'll have to utilise all the controls available to you to complete the career mode, and then there is the race mode and the time trial mode if your still keen for more Pursuit Force. We said it earlier and we'll say it again, the game really should have included at least some form of wi-fi support.
Anyone who has following the progress of Pursuit Force is likely to be a little disappointed by the outcome of the game. Some of the features, like jumping from a car to defeat an enemy, swapping cars mid race and combining a variety of vehicles into one game are really good ideas, but the slowdown, poor handling of some cars and repetitive banter really frustrate. There are also some graphical glitches in the game that had us scratching our heads as well as a lack of multiplayer. It seems BigBig have possibly attempted too much too quickly, and whilst they have achieved some of their goals, they've also failed on some fronts. With so many driving games out for the PSP today, the standards are set very high. Unfortunately Pursuit Force doesn't do enough to really differentiate itself away from the experience of other PSP racers. Even with the mission that are on foot, at the end of the day it's just racing with guns.
Pursuit Force will be available on November 11th exclusively for the PSP.
19 Oct, 2005
19 Oct, 2005
Pursuit Force Review
PSP Review | The PSP killer app?
|We cannot help but feel a little disappointed by Pursuit Force. It's still a decent game, but we're still waiting for that killer app for the PSP.||7|
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.
Currently Popular on PALGN