Like Buford T. Justice...I'm in HOT POH-SOOT!!
Sony's done a pretty good job of supporting the PSP thus far, with a diverse library of games that go from racing (Wipeout Pure) to bizarre platformer (Medievil Resurrection) to sports (the somewhat average Gretzky NHL '06). But the company hasn't really had a killer app for the system in awhile. That'll probably change once we get Pursuit Force for the PSP next month.
The game puts you in the shoes of a gutsy police officer who's been assigned a number of cases where criminals of every type, from insane soldiers to gangsters to crime-loving ladies, are out to wreak havoc on the city. Each mission involves a steady mix of driving and footwork, as you have to leap over to vehicles, take out their passengers and drivers, and then commandeer them as you get that much closer to your goal.
It sounds cheesy, to be sure, but the formula actually works pretty well here. The driving isn't too shabby in its own right, with the ability to power slide around turns and a number of tracks that range across beautiful land and sea terrains, all with a living, breathing cityscape to rummage through. But the action really picks up when you get close to other cars, and can press the Circle button in order to make an incredible leap, in moving traffic no less, to the target car in question. From there, you have to act quickly in taking down opponents, all while avoiding gunfire that will knock out your health bar.
There's some neat features with the gun combat here. First off, you can actually climb down to the side of a vehicle to avoid crucial gunfire coming at you, but you don't want to hang there too long, as the enemy AI will then try to brush you off by hitting a curb or, worse yet, a wall. Secondly, your gunfire doesn't have to be limited to just sitting on the car and firing. If you time your jump just right, you can actually begin firing mid-jump at the enemy, as the screen slows down to dramatic effect. It's all pretty high-impact, but very easy to play.
There were a total of three missions in the demo that we checked out, but the final game will feature three modes loaded with over 30 missions apiece to complete. Time Trial will test your fastest times on each track; Race will simply let you race against the opposition with little limits; and Career will track your progress on each mission, as you try to shoot for an "A" ranking to get the highest performance in the game.
The game features a very competent engine, which moves along at a very high speed, around 20-30 frames per second. It doesn't slow down whatsoever, aside from the dramatic moments, and the variety of details in each track is very cool. The soundtrack is pretty much straight out of any given Michael Bay film, complete with hokey dialogue (gotta love the typical sound of gangster-speak) and high-octane music.
Pursuit Force is looking pretty damn sharp at this point, and should most definitely be pursued once it arrives for PSP next month. We'll be back with a full review and more references to 80's chase films. But nothing from Cannonball Run, thank God.