When Pursuit Force was released in early 2006, it marked a great debut for newcomer Bigbig Studios. The game's innovative vehicle-to-vehicle jumping mechanic turned otherwise garden-variety high-speed car chases into action-packed sequences straight out of Hollywood. The game also offered variety courtesy of third-person shooter levels played on foot and rail-shooter levels in which you manned a helicopter gun. Two years later, in a sequel that's fittingly set just a couple of years after the events of the original, Pursuit Force is back. Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice doesn't mess with the original formula too much, but it adds a number of new features to the mix and, crucially, it isn't as frustratingly difficult as its predecessor.
In Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice, you reprise the role of the first game's protagonist, a rookie cop who has since been promoted to the rank of commander. The gang leaders you locked up last time have all escaped and, as you'll witness in the intro movie when they "crash" your wedding, they'll stop at nothing to get revenge. Furthermore, the Pursuit Force now has competition in the form of Viper Squad, another zero-tolerance law-enforcement unit that seems more interested in taking the credit for arrests than in actually making them. The story that plays out as you progress through the single-player game is every bit as Hollywood as the fast-paced gameplay, and though it's entertaining, it's also painfully predictable. Regardless, this isn't a game you're likely to be purchasing for its narrative; like so many movies before it, Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice is all about fast-paced, great-looking action sequences.
Some vehicles can't be commandeered and must simply be stopped.
The single-player story mode spans some 30 missions, and the majority of those missions feature several distinct gameplay sequences. For example, a mission that gets underway with a car chase might also task you with sniping enemies from a helicopter, infiltrating an enemy base on foot, and then making your escape in a hovercraft. The most enjoyable sequences in Extreme Justice are those in which you're at the controls of a vehicle and, specifically, those in which you're encouraged to jump between vehicles in midchase simply by pulling up alongside them and hitting the O button. All of the vehicles--including motorcycles, trucks, hovercraft, speedboats, jet-skis, and plenty of different cars--handle differently, but they're all equally fun to drive. When taking control of an enemy's ride, you'll initially land on top of the vehicle and will have to shoot the occupants before you can climb inside, all the while using the dodge button to avoid their retaliatory attacks. Considering that the majority of your time in story mode will be spent in driving sequences, you might think that they'd start to feel repetitive, and you'd be right. However, your objectives are a little more varied than they were in the original game, and they might task you with driving either carefully or recklessly, for example, or with taking out enemies that are vulnerable only to certain methods of attack. There are also plenty of action sequences that don't involve you driving at all.
There are some variations on these themes, but for the most part Extreme Justice's rail-shooter sequences come in three distinct flavors: helicopter with a sniper rifle, helicopter's turret-mounted machine gun, and off-road vehicle's rear-mounted machine gun. The challenge in these levels is trying to line up your shots while compensating for the movement of the vehicle, which is especially difficult when you're trying to snipe enemies from a helicopter at the mercy of a pilot who flies like he'd spectacularly fail a breathalyzer test. Toward the end of the game, the rail-shooter sequences are some of the most challenging, but given that Extreme Justice's missions employ a new checkpoint system, at least you never have to play through other stuff over again to retry them.
The third-person shooter sequences would benefit from a second analog stick.
By far the least-impressive sequences in Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice are those in which you go up against enemies on foot. The PSP's lack of a second analog stick really hurts here because, when you're running around, it's impossible to look or shoot in one direction while moving in another. In the absence of a lock-on feature like the one used in driving sequences, holding down the left shoulder button lets you zoom in on enemies so that you can aim more easily and, whenever possible, take them down with headshots. While you're aiming, your movement is limited to strafing left and right, so regardless of how you're playing, you never get the best of both worlds. The control limitations don't make Extreme Justice's third-person shooter sequences overly difficult, but that's only because few of the enemies have any interest in self-preservation. In fact, they're more likely to charge at you than to take cover, and if they get too close for comfort, you can put them in handcuffs simply by entering the correct combination of button presses as it appears on the screen.
The most memorable features of the story mode are, without a doubt, the boss battles against gang leaders and the like. These are invariably played out aboard large vehicles that, without spoiling anything for you, include a fire truck, a train, and an airplane, among others. After climbing aboard said vehicles, generally by way of a car chase or shooter sequence, you'll have to make your way to the boss by fighting through numerous gang members and avoiding environmental hazards. Although you're on foot, these levels work a lot better than the aforementioned third-person shooter sequences because you're rarely required to control your movement with the analog stick. Rather, after clearing all of the enemies from the area immediately ahead, you can advance to the next area with the push of a button. The bosses' attack patterns aren't too difficult to figure out and overcome, and your success will often depend on how efficiently you reached them rather than on how quick your reflexes are during the climactic battle.