Developer: Black Rock Studio | Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios | Release Date: 2008 | Genre: Arcade / Racing | Website: N/A
While the Playstation One era was littered with all kinds of off-road ATV games there’s been a dearth of them lately. Mabey the next gen obsession with ultra shiny cars and neon lit tracks have scared them all away or maybe it was because most of these off-road games were pretty dire and performed poorly in the sales department. Regardless, Black Rock Studio has stepped up to fill the void with their adrenaline fuelled title, Pure.
Pure is an arcade game through and through with no pretensions of being anything else. A world tour mode made up out of three different event styles split across ten stages form the bulk of the game. You’ll either be racing, sprinting (which is shorter, more frantic races) or freestyling. Freestyle is the most interesting as you’ll have to keep performing fresh tricks and combos to build up your score while picking up power-ups and keeping an eye on your ever diminishing fuel level. Most of the stages are set in the USA but there are some nice ones in Italy, New Zealand and Thailand as well. You’ll start off riding lowly D-Class bikes, but will soon work your way up to the prestigious A-Class.
The game gives you six characters to choose from and they fall into the usual stereotypes. You can customize them with a few outfits unlocked through racing, but far more interesting is the ATV customization. You can build your rides from scratch and watch as it is assembled bit by bit. If you don’t know your frames from your sockets you can just hold down a button and watch as the game assembles a ride for you. ATVs usually look pretty alike, so its nice to see the detail and variety that has gone into the ones featured in the game. You’ll unlock new pars and liveries as you progress through the world tour so you’ll be spending a lot of time in the garage.
The gameplay is all about the thrills and spills so brace yourself for huge jumps and insane tricks. The physics are nowhere near realistic, so vehicles fly through the air with the greatest of ease while riders perform gravity defying tricks.
The trick system is the heart and soul of the game and very easy to pull off. Basic, Advance and Pro tricks are all mapped to their own buttons and tied to a thrill bar. As the thrill bar fills up from tricks being performed new ones become available and when it is completely full special tricks can be performed. Perform the same tricks, however, and hey become “stale” yielding less points. Tricks can be tweaked using the shoulder buttons, but wiping out will cost you. This keeps races exhilarating as performing tricks will also allow you to boost which is essential for winning. Before attempting a trick you first have to “pre-load” your jumps by holding down the left analogue stick and then flicking it up. This will give you extra air and more time to pull off the tricks. It takes some getting used to but is so essential that the game opens with a tutorial and won’t let you move on without mastering all these aspects. It will come in handy during the freestyle events where high scoring combos can make or break your rounds.
The visuals in the game are splendid and sun drenched tracks are the highlight. There aren’t many tracks, but the available ones are huge and have lots of shortcuts or alternate routes. The view distance stretches for miles and you get nice panoramic views while tricking over the huge jumps. During races the vehicles will kick up clouds of dust and mud which splatters the riders and stick to their clothes. The trick animations are awesome, but the riders share the same moves apart from one or two unique specials. Don’t expect any sort of story mode or cut-scenes either, the goal is simply to come first in every race.
The audio is good and features a few nice rock tracks. The vehicles sound fine, but the comments from the riders quickly becomes stale. Controls are very responsive and you can even move the vehicles while flying through the air. Some of the moves that require diagonal button presses sometimes failed to register correctly, but that could just be my gamepad. There’s the usual assortment of achievements on offer for racing and winning with a sprinkling of unique ones thrown in for good measure. Don’t expect to breeze through them either.
Pure is a great game, but a couple of things hold it back from perfection. The gameplay is fun, but a little too shallow for my liking. The world tour mode can be completed in a weekend, leaving you with online only multiplayer. Unless you are hunting for achievements the single events and trial modes don’t hold much either. Opponent A.I also felt slightly dodgy to me with racers flying past me at incredible speeds. While it makes for nail biting finishes it can also be a source of great frustration. If you are tired of the in-depth racing titles on the Xbox 360 and yearn for something simpler, then Pure is just the thing. What it lacks in depth it makes up for in excitement.
*Review originally published in 2008.