IGN Review of Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice
Everyone knows that one of the best parts of action movies is the adrenaline rush they provide when you're watching them. Capitalizing on this, Sony and BigBig Studios released Pursuit Force, a Hollywood-inspired action-packed game that melded car chases and gunfights. As the newest recruit in the newest branch of law enforcement in Capital City, you were authorized to eliminate crime with any means necessary. This often meant physics-defying leaps onto cars and shooting first, arresting criminals later (if at all). Two years later, Sony and BigBig are back together to release the sequel, Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice. Does it enforce the law, or is it more of a catch and release program?
Players take on the role of the character from the first title, who's been promoted to the position of Commander of the Pursuit Force after cleaning up the streets of Capital City and Capital State. Thanks to his efforts, the force has grown to include a number of additional recruits. Unfortunately for him and the force, the relative peace in the town is about to be shattered, as the Convicts and the Warlords escape from jail and start wreaking havoc once again. Events quickly escalate from simple mayhem and kidnappings to a plot designed to wipe the city from the face of the earth. Making matters worse, new gangs join in the mayhem, while a rival police division named Viper Squad hampers some of the Pursuit Force's efforts. It's up to Pursuit Force to restore order and save the day once again.
Spread out across five acts, players leap behind the controls of cars, boats and other vehicles as they track down criminals and attempt to bring them to justice. While ramming these vehicles and firing your sidearm at their occupants will damage the gangsters, the primary tactic for your character is leapfrogging from your driver's seat to theirs. If you manage to pull up close enough, a jump icon will appear onscreen and you can leap onto their hood, allowing you a chance to eliminate the criminals inside and slide behind the wheel. There are a couple of advantages to enforcing the law by carjacking criminals: first, you receive a new vehicle that you can wreck in your high speed pursuits. Secondly, you can acquire weapons from the fallen thugs you disposed of, using this newly gained firepower against their friends
But finally, and perhaps most importantly, you gain Justice Points, which can be used immediately to heal yourself and your car or saved up until your Justice meter is maxed out. At this point, any shot that you fire causes more damage, and any leap to other vehicles takes place in slow motion, allowing you to blast criminals in mid-air. This meter can be decreased by plowing into civilians, so you can't simply go tearing through the streets colliding with everything and shooting errantly; you are a police officer, after all.
To break up the chase sequences, Extreme Justice's missions are broken up into multiple sections, each with their own action mechanics. For instance, you might take over the controls of the Pursuit Force mini-gun, blasting speeding criminals on the road below and their air support from the sky before landing and taking off in a car. You might also be tasked with taking over the controls of a turret placed on the back of a car or performing sniper shots from elevated positions while protecting allies. Finally, you may be tasked with leaving vehicles entirely and infiltrating enemy bases on foot, shooting or arresting thugs.
Fortunately, you aren't forced to take on these wild gangs alone anymore. Now that you're the Commander of Pursuit Force, you're given support from your new recruits. Preach is a heavy weapons specialist and is never found without his personal chaingun. Ashley is a spec-ops recruit maneuvering between turrets and explosives. Gage is your team's wheelman, while Sarah is your squad's pilot. Players will also receive additional intelligence and help from external sources, such as Lucy, an MI5 special agent, and Dr. Pertwee, a scientist that provides additional insight into the gang member's activities.
However, instead of assigning rankings based on how well you perform your tasks, players simply complete missions and are sometimes provided the option of selecting one mission over another. This mild branching doesn't affect your score at the end of the mission – in fact, you don't receive a ranking that dictates how well you did. Instead, players instead receive coins at the end of missions, which can be spent within a specialized laboratory for new upgrades, such as being able to leap farther from cars, shrug off more damage and inflict more damage with every shot. Players won't be able to acquire every upgrade, which provides a certain amount of customization and replayability as you pick and choose which abilities fit your personal style. However, it also reduces what made the original game so challenging because you had to perform well to advance the story.
What's more, while including new members of the Pursuit Force seems like a good idea, it's actually poorly carried out in execution. Players don't have an option to select which recruit they want to join them on missions nor are they guaranteed support from them in a number of tasks. As a result, the gameplay comes across more like a solo adventure than a team effort – the recruits might wind up shooting one criminal every now and then when they appear, but for the most part, taking the fight to the gangs is reliant upon you. Plus, their placement within the plot feels haphazard and weak – one of the plot twists connected to them is so transparently done that I (and anyone paying attention to the plot, for that matter) knew what was going to occur stages before it happened. It's unfortunate, because it would have been a cool idea if it was handled better: for instance, it'd be sweet if you could direct these cadets to do certain activities to make battles end faster or eliminate a certain number of criminals, but no such luck.
Then again, many of the same issues that players might have had with the original game wind up resurfacing within the sequel, which is somewhat disappointing that they weren't addressed. For instance, players will still find that the jump icon won't always show up, even if they happen to be within range of their target. When you find that you can literally ram into an opponent and not have the option to bounce over to their car, you'll be particularly frustrated, especially when you've got many more of them to capture and only so much road left before you fail a task within its parceled out amount of road. Considering that the difficulty of Extreme Justice isn't nearly as harsh as its predecessor, it's really annoying that you can navigate your way through a level without making a mistake and simply get hemmed up by a key gameplay mechanic.
Another issue that arises is that the game has a huge reliance on quicktime events, from holding onto hoods to navigating "boss fight" vehicles to arresting criminals. It's somewhat understandable as you're making your way on vehicles because you could be flung off and you have a few seconds to respond or die, although it would be nice if the buttons were randomized on cars so there was some challenge instead of pounding the L and R buttons all the time. Considering this happens during the on-foot sections when you perform melee battles, it doesn't make any sense that it isn't carried over in the rest of the game. Then again, the on-foot melee is ridiculous, primarily because a number of criminals will blindly charge you without paying attention to the spray of bullets you're firing at them. These sections simply don't stand up to the faster-paced chase sequences or the rail sections where you're sniping or shooting from helicopters.
Once you manage to make your way through the story mode, players are given the option to replay missions for stars in the Bounty mode, which are redeemed for various items in the game's store, such as character art, movie clips, or cheats that can be turned on or off. Similarly, players can test their skills within the Challenges section, such as apprehending criminals by ramming their cars only. While these are engaging for a little while, it would've been a bit more intriguing if these modes featured completely new content, such as new gangs or situations that players haven't faced before during a playthrough. For example, once you've beaten a level, it's relatively easy to rack up a score; the number of enemies don't increase, and their patterns don't vary up at all.
For players that happen to have friends with Extreme Justice nearby, you can engage in one of four different multiplayer modes. Ram Jam restricts cops to using their car as a battering ram to defeat criminals, while Cops and Robbers gives both sides firearms that they can use to take out each other. For players that are more into deathmatch, Rampage throws players into an arena and lets them shoot it out for a certain number of minutes or until you hit a target number of kills. Finally, Survivor puts you and a friend in a car, with one acting as the driver and one as the turret gunner against a number of incoming gang members. Rampage is perhaps the most fun of the four modes, as you can use your Justice meter to survive multiple gunshots and continue fighting. However, Cops and Robbers and Ram Jam seem to be a bit too easy to play, particularly because there isn't really a lot of civilian traffic on the streets when you play. As a result, one player can get a couple of points and then sprint to the finish line without ever seeing another vehicle near them.
Speaking of visuals, Extreme Justice is actually much better looking than its predecessor with a slightly new visual presentation. More anti-aliasing appears to have been placed on character and vehicle models to reduce the harder edged jaggies that cropped up in the original title. Everything, from the distance meters to the health bars appears to have benefited from this redesigned look, and you'll see some improvements within battle, such as whittling pieces off of cars or other destructive effects from ramming and bullet impacts. Cutscenes and videos are pretty good as well, especially the ones that punctuate major plot sequences. Perhaps the lone downside that you might pick up on is that some of the environments will repeat as you go through certain missions. You'll find yourself saying, "I know what the layout of this section is," as you chase an enemy through the same indoor mall or around the same curve for the third or fourth time.
As for the sound, the game is pretty good also, although it's a bit weaker than the visuals due to some of the vocal delivery of certain actors. Some of the gang members have a bit of trouble keeping their accent (which I noticed at times with the British gang and the Jamaican gang members), which was disappointing. What's more, the final gang continually used the same voice actor over and over again, which was rather bland. On the other hand, the musical tracks weren't bad, especially considering that you'd hear them primarily on menu screens and in between missions.
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