Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice Review

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Pursuit Force is a fast-paced, explosive, high octane action game for PSP. High speed car chases and gun battles. Those are the core elements of Pursuit Force. Two fun concepts that the game blends together resulting in an extremely fun and exhilarating experience, overall. It can be frustrating at times but the sheer amount of fun the game offers outweighs most of its negative aspects. It was followed up by a sequel, Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice, which retains the fast-paced action as well as introduces some new features including a multiplayer component. Developed by Bigbig Studios and published by Sony Computer Entertainment, Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice was released for PlayStation Portable in January, 2008. For this review, I played a ripped copy of my own game using the PPSSPP emulator.

The story puts the player in the shoes of the Pursuit Force Commander who is tasked with taking down a series of gangs in Capital State. As the Pursuit Force squad solves more and more cases, they uncover a plot involving multiple gangs, nuclear weapons, and a mole among them. Just like the first game, the action is crazy, the voice acting is hammy, and the villains are over-the-top and wacky. The plot is enjoyably ridiculous with some twists and elements of drama thrown in from time to time, and I found it to be somewhat compelling.

As for the gameplay, almost everything from the first game has been carried over to Extreme Justice but with refinements and more content. Unlike the first game, the story plays out in acts and you’re able to choose which cases you want to solve from the Criminal Mainframe. When you solve a case, you earn tokens that can be spent on upgrades. I like this a lot better than the ranking system from the first game simply because the game lets the player choose what upgrades they want to unlock and when. There is no scoring system in the story but as you complete cases, they are unlocked in the game’s Bounty mode where you can replay them and try for record scores and stars that can be spent to unlock things like cheats, super cheats, movies, and music among other things. Extreme Justice also comes with a Challenge mode that comes with numerous scenarios based on events in the story, designed to help the player hone their skills.

Extreme Justice features plenty of car chases and gun battles and a lot of set pieces and scripted sequences. You’ll be gunning down foes and vehicles from helicopters, sniping enemies, and manning turrets in the back of vehicles. Unfortunately, much of the action is accompanied by quick time events. These appear during certain battles and whenever you have to arrest foes on-foot. Other than that, everything that was carried over feels refined in a good way. You can still shoot while driving, jump from vehicle to vehicle, and the Justice system makes a return. When behind a turret in a helicopter with a full Justice bar, you can unleash a Justice shot, a series of missiles to obliterate foes.

The Commander is always equipped with a handgun with infinite ammo and once again, you can acquire new weapons by arresting foes and capturing vehicles. You can now hold more than one weapon and switch between them which is nice. Extreme Justice comes with multiple difficulty levels and I would say the story mode is a little more forgiving than that of the previous game. The difficulty does ramp up nicely as you progress and some of the later cases can be a bitch. I remember struggling with a few cases when I originally played this and then when I started approaching the end of the game during this playthrough, the memories came flooding back. I found some of the sniping sequences to be brutal. I remember trying to aim or line up shots with the PSP analog nub to be a real bitch. Maybe that’s just a me problem but I did experience the same problem here using a Series X controller. I found it very difficult to aim accurately when sniping while moving which became more of an issue in the later cases.

Due to the more forgiving gameplay in general, I did find the story mode here to be more enjoyable and it often allowed me to experiment a little more with approaches. However, I do think there is an abundance of set pieces and on-foot sequences. Personally, I think the real meat of the enjoyment is the high speed chase action. There wasn’t nearly as many on-foot sequences in the first game but just enough to make for nice breathers from the typical action. There’s a lot of these sequences in Extreme Justice and I have to admit, I got a little tired of them after a while. The same goes for the on-rail shooter sequences. There’s just a lot of them here and while they’re fun, they are pretty straightforward and don’t allow for much experimentation. They’re basically shooting galleries. On a positive note, the car chases and high speed action still make for a great time and now you’ll often be accompanied by NPCs that will assist you.

Extreme Justice comes with plenty of vehicles and boats and you’ll even get to pilot hovercrafts. You’ll have to engage enemies on the ground, in vehicles, helicopters, and some enemy vehicles are bulletproof so they need to be rammed. When you jump to an enemy vehicle you’ll have to balance out shooting the individuals inside and dodging their gunfire to stay alive and capture it. Utilizing the Justice bar to overcome challenges is still a crucial part of the gameplay but thanks to the more forgiving gameplay, I felt like I had more breathing room this time around, more room for errors but also more ways to tackle specific situations, minus during the scripted set pieces. A full Justice bar will allow you to inflict more damage, shoot while jumping and you can replenish health at the expense of Justice. The game does throw plenty of bosses at you and the battles often consist of the commander boarding their vehicle or aircraft and moving towards the boss in a scripted fashion. And I would say most of the boss battles here are more forgiving than those in the previous game.

Extreme Justice comes with a decent variety of environments and you’ll pursue enemies down highways and rivers and on trains and aircraft. Vehicle chases are always set on linear paths with barriers keeping you and the action contained with arrows pointing you in the direction you need to go. Where to go and what to do is always made clear and many cases include multiple objectives. You’ll have to destroy things, capture vehicles, provide cover fire, follow vehicles, protect vehicles, defend areas, intimidate people, and rescue people. Often times you’ll have to complete an objective before a target reaches their destination and but some objectives are timed.

Visually, I think Extreme Justice does look better than its predecessor. The presentation is colorful, vehicle and character models look pretty great and the visual effects look awesome. The emulation does expose many of its flaws like some blurry textures and noticeable pop-in but I do think Extreme Justice was a good looking game for the hardware it was designed for. The action is accompanied by good audio work and a solid soundtrack consisting of a good variety of tunes ranging from sounding dramatic to intense, often perfectly matching what’s happening on-screen. On the technical side, I did not encounter many issues.

Ultimately, I do like Extreme Justice more than the previous entry. It retains the same fun gameplay and offers more content, including multiplayer which I didn’t get to try. However, I do take issue with some of the design choices. I appreciate the difficulty options and the more forgiving gameplay in general. Overall, I think it’s less frustrating than the first game although I thought some of the later cases were a real bitch. I do wish the developers eased up on the set pieces because as fun as they are, there’s really not much to them. I think the real draw here is the high speed action and at times, I felt like the developers shifted their focus in the wrong direction. Chasing and blowing up vehicles on roads and water, exchanging gunfire at high speeds, and jumping from one vehicle to another is all awesome stuff and is what I think really separates these games from other action titles. So I would have preferred to see more of that. But in the end, Extreme Justice is still a phenomenal game and comes with plenty of replay value.

I would absolutely recommend Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice. Despite it’s flaws, it’s a refined sequel that offers plenty of high speed action-packed fun. Unfortunately, as of this review, Extreme Justice marks the end of the franchise. Bigbig Studious was shut down some time ago and as far as I know, no other developers have really picked up on the concept behind Pursuit Force so they still remain unique as far as I’m concerned. I would love to see this and its predecessor get remastered and release on modern hardware. I would also love to see this series expand further but I don’t think that’s going to happen at this point but there’s always hope for a spiritual successor.

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