Pursuit Force
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PSP
| Pursuit Force

You may scoff and choke on your toffee-coated popcorn every time the latest Hollywood blockbuster features an action hero hanging onto the bonnet of the baddies' car while repeatedly shooting the driver in the face but be honest, you'd relish the opportunity to do so yourself.

Don't worry, it's quite normal. We all do.

Well, thank the Lord of Lead and cock your Glock because now we can. While the central premise of Pursuit Force features the staple elements of any decent cops n' crooks car chase – weaving in an out of traffic along sinuous roads and wonderfully excessive out-of-the-window shooting –it's the ability to jump onto and subsequently commandeer any vehicle you pull up alongside which ultimately gives the game its own very distinctive, very dynamic flavour.

Importantly, it's also what propels it convincingly beyond the mundane. But we're getting ahead of ourselves – let's slam on the brakes, shove it into reverse and backtrack with a little background: Capital City's in trouble. Its streets have become the playground of weapon-worshipping, speed-seeking gangs. As the latest recruit for the elite Pursuit Force police division, your task is to restore peace to five notorious criminal ridden districts. This you do by outdriving and outgunning the opposition, naturally.

As you'd expect, this is easier typed than done given that the majority of the action takes place on tarmac moving at ridiculous speed. And while the cartoon-styled scenery is flying by you're also required to avoid civilian traffic, negotiate tortuous highways and byways, and prevent the bad guys from reaching their destination by getting them on first name terms with your bullets.

Thankfully, the controls are reasonably intuitive. The various vehicles available may differ in the way they handle but they all respond pleasingly to steering input, as well as reacting suitably promptly to accelerator and brake commands. Crucially, aiming is done automatically (though you can cycle through potential targets at the touch of a button) and having 'fire' assigned to the Right Shoulder button ensures it never gets in the way of the vehicle controls – handy when you're busy trying to keep on the road and avoid innocent drivers while being rammed by trigger happy lawless lunatics.

You have, in effect, two ways of dealing with these fools. Either ram them back and shoot enthusiastically from the relative safety of your car (but keep an eye on your vehicle's health bar) or get close, press the Circle button and leap onto theirs. Depending on the ride and your starting position, you'll land on the bonnet, roof or boot. Whichever, don't expect the baddies to be happy to see you, a fact that is confirmed the moment they open fire on your sorry bottom. You can return the gesture, of course, but while they're emptying their magazines it pays to avoid their bullets ¬– pressing Square will do just that. Once they're busy reloading you can then unleash justice, Vin Diesel style.

Dishing out law and order fills up your justice meter (predictably, harming innocent civilians depletes it). Once full, you can perform a 'justice jump', a bullet-time type leap which enables you to fire at criminals while in mid-air, usually dispatching one of the delinquents before you've set down on their bodywork – a considerable advantage in later, tougher missions.

It's all very dramatic, very enjoyable stuff. It's also when the game is at its finest. True, there's variety on offer in the missions – tracking speeding crooks on a coastal road with the barrel of a minigun while sitting aboard a helicopter, or getting involved in mammoth shootouts having parked the vehicles safely out of the way – but these aren't as satisfyingly and convincingly implemented as the ability to ditch the wreck you're driving seconds before it explodes and go on to trade rounds with gang members while hanging onto their bumper while they do their best to shoot and shake you off.

Of course, nothing lasts forever and eventually the fun and excitement wane. Until then, however, rest assured you'll enjoy plenty of personal Bruckheimer moments.

Pursuit Force is on sale now.

Pursuit Force

An original, vibrant and very welcome addition to the PSP family which, like the mindless Hollywood action productions that inspired it, can be highly entertaining in controlled doses.
Score