Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice by Sony and Bigbig Studios was earmarked as one of 2008's premiere releases for the Sony PlayStation Portable. Like its predecessor, Extreme Justice features the same brand of high-speed, crime-busting, mayhem-igniting car chases which take a bite straight out of Hollywood action movies. Only one question remains: is it as good as we hoped it would be? Stand by, officer, because we're going in hard and fast.
The premise in Extreme Justice is simple: your character has been assigned to the position of Commander in Capital City's elite pursuit force. Your unit is tasked with maintaining order in the metropolis and tracking down criminals whenever necessary.
Sadly, you won't be given any time to celebrate your promotion as the notorious gangs from the first game break loose from the big house. The low-IQ, fun-loving Convicts and the maniacal Warlords are out to do some serious business in your turf.
To make things worse, two new factions have entered the fray. A Cajun gang that calls itself the Raiders is entering the city to cash in on some loot, while a rival police unit called the Viper Squad gets in your face all the time.
What starts as a simple jailbreak takes a swing for matters more diabolical. The criminal elements running amok aren't satisfied with defiling the city and blowing their noses on the constitution - they now want to blow the metro right off the map.
Like an old-school action movie
When the first Pursuit Force was developed, it was grounded on the idea of taking the most exciting parts of an action flick and building a game around it. Yes, testosterone-rich car combat and shooting are the core concepts of Extreme Justice and it pulls off the act rather well thanks in large part to its ability to utilize the PSP's powerful hardware.
The graphics in this bad boy are some of the best we've seen on the platform. Anti-aliasing techniques have made for a very clean, chic look with the absence of hard edges for most of the game.
Special effects like fire, over-the top crashes, and water motion are all done tastefully in synergy to nice character models. The action doesn't slow down even when multiple objects are moving onscreen, doing justice to the mayhem happening on the small PSP display.
Sounds are above average too. Okay, the audio part isn't quite as good as the visuals, but in the very least, it's a worthy part of the experience. The background music fits the intense mood all the way, setting players automatically in the mood for a high-speed hunt. The voice acting could have been a little less over the top. But even so, it's understandable because over the top happens to be Extreme Justice's core mantra.
Gameplay-wise, Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice is a fun title if you're the type who digs fast-paced, slightly tactical shooters which incorporate aggressive driving. For one, the unforgiving difficulty from the first game that gave everyone nightmares has been toned down. Chasing thugs with boats, cars, and aircraft is always fun, and lawfully car-jacking their rides has an appeal all is own.
The inclusion of Justice Points is also a welcome one. Justice Points are accumulated when you perform specific tasks. Once they're in your meter, they can be used to heal yourself on the fly. If you don't need to do so, you can wait for the meter to max out, allowing you to perform death-defying carjack leaps, and giving you extra firepower. When you need to take out tough thugs in a flash.
Though there's no online mode, you can still enjoy Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice with friends in four different modes. Our favorite has to be Rampage, where players shoot it out in almost mindless fashion to attain a kill quota in a set amount of time.
Bad boys, bad boys, what ya gonna do when they come for you?
As promising as Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice is when you first get your hands on it, a lot of gamers will probably recognize some serious issues after about half an hour of play. Inconsistencies in the jump action, squad mechanics, enemy AI, and even storytelling hamper what could have been a seriously great gaming event for the PSP in 2008.
In this game, you take control of enemy vehicles by ramming them and pulling up close enough until a jump icon appears to give you a cue on when to leap from your car to an enemy's. Doing so will result in taking them out while inside their own rides. While this sounds good in theory, it's only fun when it works.
Why, you ask? The game has a tendency to frustrate players by not making that jump icon show up even at times when your open window is so close to that of a thug's that you can grab a wet towel and slap his face off with it. This is not funny especially when there's only so much road with so many vehicles to take down.
Another problem we've had is that there seems to be a little too much quick-time event gameplay injected into this title. Sure, God of War made guided button-tapping somewhat fun in a quirky way, but Pursuit Force: Extreme justice takes that element way over its head. It's appropriate to have that pop up when hanging on for dear life on a car hood, but to include it on just about every boss fight ride and arrest? We see the need for a bit of washing down.
And while Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice incorporates the trendy and tactical squad-driven action that's all the rage these days, the execution could have been a lot better. With no choice as to which squad members accompany you in a mission, and with little control over what they'll be doing, you'll find yourself doing everything by yourself Rambo-style many times over. At least some goons are nice enough to run directly into your line of fire to make sure that little ammo is wasted.
How do you plead?
Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice is one of those games which are really good as they are, but definitely could have benefitted from a bit more polishing. Sure, this one has a number of shortcomings, but it's clearly far from a bad game. The fantastic visuals, rocking audio score, and responsive controls stand out, and are not overcome with the smaller gameplay issues. Bottom line, if you like your action in white-knuckle fashion, this one's for you.