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Pursuit’ chases perfection

Mark Bemenderfer | Friday, March 24, 2006

Video games and Hollywood are often closely intertwined. Blockbuster releases frequently have a corresponding game release, such as “King Kong” and “Narnia.” Other games draw obvious influences from Hollywood, such as the “Resident Evil” franchise.

“Pursuit Force,” released for the PSP, draws heavily from the Hollywood action film genre. Filled with literal high-octane action, “Pursuit Force” features all the car, boat and helicopter chases audiences expect from a summer blockbuster.

The premise is simple. Crime has skyrocketed, so a new branch of the police has been formed to combat this growing menace. This new branch is referred to as the Pursuit Force. Designed to chase the criminals down using highly reckless actions, the formation of this branch sets the stage for the rest of the game.

Many games feature all of the aforementioned Hollywood elements. But the unique part of “Pursuit Force” is the ability to leap from vehicle to vehicle while traveling at incredible speeds.

Not content to simply follow the suspects, the hero will leap from his car to the criminals at the touch of a button, all while traveling in speeds of excess of 100 miles per hour.

This leads to some truly interesting scenarios, as players will find themselves leapfrogging down a highway, jumping from car to car after the bad guys. There are also moments where the player will leap from a car to a boat, and then back again, all without interruption in the game play.

Unfortunately, the combat helicopter moments are not as seamless or smooth when compared to their motor vehicle counterparts. Instead, a short cinematic shows the player leaping into the helicopter’s cockpit. These segments are some of the worst in the game, as player control is reduced to merely manning a gun. Aiming is difficult as small targets appear in the form of cars. Adding to this annoyance, the helicopter and the cars continuously move.

Rounding out the action segments are some on-foot scenes where the game turns into a simple third-person shooter. Control is simplified for these parts, and they are by far some of the easiest parts of the game.

However, all of the different game modes wouldn’t mean much if they were not backed by solid game play. Fortunately, the controls are sufficient, with the driving sections reminiscent of “Burnout.” The boat segments, as well as the on-foot parts, are equally easy to control, with the one dark spot being the aforementioned helicopter scenarios.

Gamers will find plenty of reasons to play “Pursuit Force,” even after completing the missions.

Every mission is given a letter grade, with the higher grades being particularly difficult to obtain. The higher grades reward players with cheats, movies and new modes of play, providing added motivation to jump back in and replay the missions.

It should be noted, however, that this game is difficult. It’s not as hard as the initial European release, which lacked checkpoints, but it is still an ordeal for the casual gamer. None of the missions are impossible, but they can seem that way at first. Easily daunted gamers might be better off looking for their action fix elsewhere.

“Pursuit Force” is one of the definitive action experiences for Sony’s portable system.

Featuring a variety of modes, furious action and even a little humor, this game should provide plenty of hours of entertainment.