Talking through the details of Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice on PSP (part 1)
How BigBig went bigger and better
It was a new studio, working on an original game for a new console, so everything considered, BigBig Studios' high octane driving and shooting PSP debut Pursuit Force was quite a success. It reviewed relatively well and sales weren't bad, either.
But two years on, the sequel, Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice, is the real deal, reckons lead designer Chris Whiteside.
"Even though some of us had worked together at Codemasters, we were inexperienced as a team for Pursuit Force," he says. "Getting the in-game jumping mechanic right was a huge challenge because we didn't have any reference points. It was a real learning process. Going into this game though, we felt a lot more confident and focused in terms of what we wanted to make."
Part of this process included filtering all the feedback to fix the things players didn't like, as well as building on the things they did. Spikes in the difficulty levels and a lack of inter-mission save points (something fixed in the US release of Pursuit Force) ranked high when it came to negatives.
"The main issue was we wanted to make a really exciting game with loads of action and puzzle bits," Whiteside explains. "Because of these different elements, if you didn't manage to successfully take out an enemy car immediately, you'd end up with very little time to deal with the next enemy and so on. That was one of the reasons the game was difficult in certain missions, as well as the fact we had to get the game out on time."
To overcome such problems, in Extreme Justice the designers broke down the different gameplay elements in each mission and have tried to make sure you only have to focus on one at any given time.
"We want to give the player more time to strategise," Whiteside says. "Hopefully you won't notice it but we've segmented the game up so at one point, you'll be focused on shooting at a vehicle from range and won't be too concerned about your driving. At other times, you'll have to concentrate more on your driving style."
Combined with these subtle tweaks, the tracks are much wider and those notorious 90-degree corners have been removed. There are also three difficulty levels you can choose from, which range from 'casual' to 'hardcore'. Complete the entire game on hardcore, and you'll be able to attempt 'Iron Man'. "It's more like the original Pursuit Force experience," Whiteside reveals. "Everything becomes very tight. It's my favourite."
As for other changes, when you're on-foot, there's what Whiteside calls a hybrid first-person shooter control system, which uses a roving lock-on targeting system, while also enabling you to go into an advanced aiming mode by pressing the L shoulder button.
"This lets you strafe left and right but you can't move forward and backwards," he says. "It's based on the action from films like Heat. You don't see people running around and shooting all over the place. It's a more measured approach, where you find cover, fire and then move onto the next piece of cover."
And with movie set-pieces remaining an important inspiration throughout Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice's development, don't forget to check out the second part of our interview when we discuss the game's story and new set of characters, as well as covering the multiplayer modes – something Chris Whiteside is especially proud of.
Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice is due for release in November.