So here's the setup: your state is overrun by five criminal gangs who like to terrorize the citizenry and steal anything that isn't nailed down. As a drastic, last-ditch measure, you've been empowered to take them out. They're too badass to just pull over, though, so you'll need to jump onto their cars at high speed, fight for the wheel and get ready to do it again if you're going to eliminate the menace.
At its core, Pursuit Force is a racing game, albeit one where you switch vehicles constantly by jumping between them and shooting their criminal occupants. Each of the 30 missions takes place on a linear track, where you'll have to accomplish one or more goals - destroying or capturing a certain number of gang cars, for example, or ferrying a snitch to safety - while fighting against the clock.
You'll usually start each level tearing ass in a souped-up police cruiser, trading potshots with whatever gang members you're chasing. Edge close enough, and a little icon pops up letting you know it's safe to jump. Leap out of your car and you'll land on theirs, which prompts them to start shooting you in the face. Dodge their fire by hanging off the car (try not to fall off, though) and blast them one by one, and the ride is yours. It's fast, dramatic and fun, especially when you fill up your "Justice Bar" by taking down crooks without hitting civilians. This gives your bullets more punch, and enables you to shoot while leaping in slow motion (or just heal yourself up, if you're boring).
It's not all driving, either. In the interest of keeping you on your toes, you'll sometimes have to leave your car to tackle criminals on foot. This isn't anything lengthy or fancy, but the rapid-fire (or, if you can get in close, rapid-arrest) gunfights make for a nice switch-up from the driving. You'll also frequently be pulled into a minigun-equipped police helicopter to turn the freeway into a shooting gallery. These segments are fun in a "ha ha suck it down" kind of way, but nudging the gun around with the PSP's analog stick to shoot speeding cars is a lot less rewarding than it sounds.
Through it all, though, Pursuit Force packs in enough variety to keep even the most attention-deficient gamers happy. Each mission is unique, and the best ones are multi-stage affairs that have you leapfrogging between cars, motorcycles, speedboats and helicopters. And then there are the boss fights, which tend to feature tough, elusive adversaries that you'll have to beat within an unrealistically short time limit, all while fending off their trigger-happy goons.
Also, each of the five gangs has its own vehicles, weapons (which you can steal) and modus operandi that affect the nature of your missions. The all-girl Vixens - who prefer sports cars, motorcycles and sleek submachine guns - are high-tech thieves who like to hijack big rigs. You'll often have to stop the Humvee-driving Warlords from carrying out terrorist attacks, and the escaped Convicts favor ugly jalopies and plinky, useless nailguns. But these disparate gangs have one thing in common: they're all ridiculous, which fits in nicely with the game's over-the-top flavor.
Pursuit Force was criticized for its difficulty when it was released in Europe last year, prompting Sony to scale down the difficulty for the US release. But while the game starts out easy, the challenge quickly ramps up; far from being dumbed-down, this is a game that requires concentration, precision and lots of practice. Throw in sharp visuals, unlockable racing challenges and one of the most violently innovative approaches to driving since Burnout 3, and Pursuit Force stands out as one of the PSP's better games.