Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice

PSP: 12 Games of Christmas

Sleigh with me.

If in doubt, buy your parents something you want and reclaim at a later date - a useful mantra handed down from generation to generation. I once bought my sister a CD that will remain nameless for shame purposes, even though she had no flashy machinery to play it on. But I did. So, when I suggested she hand the disc to me and keep the cassette recording I had selflessly made for herself, I was expecting nothing but cooperation. Bloody witch didn't see it like that though, did she? Threw a right strop. Ungrateful. But looking back at my foolish youth of yester-year I can see how much I have changed. She lives in China for a start, so no need to get her anything. Present for sister: tick.

Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice

Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice

Fudge the police.

Extreme Justice is one of those slightly apologetic sequels, a sort of "sorry, this is the game you were supposed to get first time around". Thankfully, it retains the killer hook from the first Pursuit Force - that there's an elite police unit that believes the most efficient way to combat organised crime is to wait for crimes to take place, chase down the perpetrators at reckless speed and then jump onto their car, shoot them and grab the wheel. It's a brilliantly demented concept, but the game itself was let down by lacklustre execution and a horribly wonky learning curve. When Kristan reviewed it almost exactly two years ago, his enthusiasm was dampened by the "horrible driving experience and some tedious difficulty spikes".

Back for round two, it's a relief to see that some of the complaints have been addressed. The handling is noticeably better, which immediately nudges the whole experience closer to making good on the throbbing promise of its cool premise. There are now twelve vehicles to commandeer and, while the handling understandably varies from hovercraft to motorbike, you're never left feeling as out of control as the first game. This instant playability is helped enormously by some cracking visual touches, creating a crisp, colourful arcade-style world for you to blaze through. From the bright cartoon characters to the solid, inviting courses, the whole experience has the sort of engaging have-a-go sheen that Sega's 1990s arcade cabinets used to boast. Given that the game basically plays like an improved Crazy Taxi, that's hardly surprising.

Other handy reference points, while we're on the subject, are Spy Hunter's relentless thrill of the chase, Crackdown's playful sci-fi supercop ambience and the utterly obscure PSone driving game Ray Tracers which is ace and I really should get around to picking up a copy on Ebay.

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Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice

Lead designer Chris Whiteside aims to police.

Some reviewers were a bit rough and ready with Pursuit Force, BigBig Studios' PSP action game, including our very own Kristan, who wrote: "Pursuit Force has some really great ideas implemented reasonably well. Leaping from vehicle to vehicle like some sort of crazy offspring of Evil Kinevil and The Six Million Dollar Man is a lot of fun for a while. But then a combination of a horrible driving experience and some tedious difficulty spikes drain all the fun out of it, and you're left scowling about missed opportunities." Returning this year with the sequel - this time for PS2 as well as PSP - BigBig aims to sort out all the bits after the "But" and help Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice reach the critical heights the first game couldn't. We caught up with lead designer Chris Whiteside to find out what's in store.

Pursuit Force returns

On PS2 and PSP.

BigBig's Pursuit Force is making a comeback this summer. After enjoying relative success as a PSP exclusive first time out, the sequel - "Extreme Justice" - will be released on the handheld as well as PS2.