Not many games can make you feel like you're playing an over-the-top Hollywood action blockbuster, especially on the PSP. Pursuit Force Extreme Justice attempts to do just that, complete with a ridiculous storyline, hilarious vehicle-to-vehicle jumping and high speed car chases. The result is a game that works surprisingly well across a large variety of gameplay styles.
Extreme Justice is the sequel to the original Pursuit Force which many thought to be too challenging. Extreme Justice is still quite tricky, but has been toned down to make for a more accessible experience.
The game is also nice and long, especially for a handheld title. The mission-based structure splits the entire experience up into five acts, with a total of thirty missions during the entire story mode. These are then replayable in Bounty mode and Challenge mode, in order to elongate the game even more. Of course, Ad-Hoc multiplayer adds even more to do.
Story mode consists of various gameplay styles, as we've mentioned. Namely: vehicle chases, on-foot shoot outs, airborne sniping and boss battles. Each mode is as fun as the others, so you won't ever find yourself thinking "Oh great. Another darn vehicle section." Of course, this could change due to your own personal taste, but each segment of the game has the same amount of care and consideration with regards to level design and gameplay feel, so the game never feels as though it was rushed.
While the vehicle chase scenes can become quite predictable and repetitive, boredom is minimized by the ever rising difficulty curve. As you progress you will be given more cars to jump onto or to ram off the road. More enemies will swarm you during the on-foot missions and the bosses will get more and more complex and multi-staged.
The bosses are the most intriguing parts of the game, requiring you to climb a large moving vehicle and shoot at your quarry whilst ducking to minimize damage. These stages become like obstacle courses, with various things to avoid and lackeys to kill before you get to the main boss. Great fun.
The Justice meter adds a tactical element to the game. With each successful attack, kill or ram you perform your Justice meter will fill up. At any point you can press the Up or Triangle button to empty your justice gauge and refill your health. If, however, you wait until your meter fills up then you deal more damage, take more hits and can even perform slow-mo jumps from vehicle to vehicle, allowing you to shoot the occupant in midair.
The story is told via comic book style captions that pop up during and in-between levels, all of which are fully voiced. The narrative itself isn't anything particularly special and heavily features over the top American patriotism and anti-British/Irish/Russian stereotypes. These aren't to be taken seriously, however. We saw it more as satire. The voice acting is great and the FMV sequences, while rare, are rendered in a really nice style.
The Story Mode only makes up around a third of the actual gameplay, however. Once you're done with it, and if you're feeling a bit masochistic, you can go through Bounty Mode. This allows you to play through the levels again on various difficulty levels to earn stars, which can then be spent in the game's shop to buy cheats, concept art, music and other various stuff.
Challenge Mode lengthens the longevity even further, giving you various tasks to perform. If you think the Story Mode is tough, Challenge Mode might make you cry. That's a warning.
As if that wasn't enough, Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice features 4-player Ad-Hoc multiplayer for several of the gaming modes, including a co-op Survivor mode. This is obviously brilliant fun, though online would have been nice for those of us without PSP-owning friends.
Overall, Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice is a great pick-up-and-play arcade shooter. It's accessibility is arguable as there is a "Casual" difficulty setting, but considering the toughness of the novice mode, there's a chance even that might be difficult for people not used to games. Graphically, Extreme Justice looks great, as most PSP games these days do. A PS2 version is due out later this year, which will be able to read your PSP save file, so you can take your PS2 save with you on the road via your PSP then continue on your big screen when you get back.
Give Extreme Justice a go, you'll probably be hooked. It's not trying to innovate the medium, but it's comfortable with what it does and it does it well. Plus, it lasts for ages.
PSP Fanboy score: 8.5
Second Opinion: Andrew
As a fan of the original Pursuit Force, I find Extreme Justice doesn't bring enough new to the table. The dated visuals are acceptable for a first and second generation PSP title, but age hasn't treated this engine nicely. It looks way too much like the original. The ridiculous story takes itself way too seriously, with heavy-handed cinematics and dialogue sequences that can't be skipped quickly enough. Poor voice acting and classless stereotypical characters do little to make this affair more tasteful. (Granted, that's not what the game is going for, and Jem found the humor to be quite in tune with his tastes!) The new on-foot gameplay mechanics are broken -- a dozen other, better options come to mind.
In spite of its flaws, the game does provide a good sense of speed, and the high-octane car chases are still the game's forte. The plethora of bosses does the game good, as does the multiple difficulty options. In short bursts, the shallow gameplay manages to be fun, but extended gameplay sessions will lead to repetition and frustration.