Describing Pure as a realistic racing sim as the same as saying the Pope is stoned as hell each Christmas evening and plays strip darts with gay members of Al Quaida. In other words: you couldn’t be further away from the truth.
So what is the latest top title from Black Rock then? Pure is an action-packed but short over the top adrenaline rush, spiced up with insane stunts, extensive tuning possibilities, gorgeous graphics and a feeling of speed that would make even Lewis Hamilton take his foot off the throttle.
In a very short tutorial Pure immediately shows all its cards. You get throw into the mud with your nose first and immediately realise that next to rock hard off-road racing the emphasis is on doing stunts that would severely endanger your possible future offspring. Pure isn’t so much a second Motorstorm or a Need for Speed in mud but rather SSX on wheels. Or quads or ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) to be precise.
The gameplay therefore has a lot of similarities with EA’s snowboarding game. By doing f.i. Supermans, Back Flips and Cliffhangers on one of the many jumps your boost meter fills and with a push of the X-button you can use that boost to go even harder and get more air time. The more filled the meter, the more spectacular the tricks so that in the end you get to do insane special moves, like the Shaolin Funk or the Propellor. This isn’t so hard as the controls are intuitive and accessible in such a way that even the biggest idiot could do it.
The events from the World Tour are divided in three parts: freestyle, race and sprint. In freestyle it’s all about the above mentioned stunts and fast laps are of no concern. With a minimum of gasoline you need to do as many combos as possible as fast as possible while trying to catch some additional fuel and multipliers when floating around. Certainly in a later stage you’ll need plenty of boosts to be able to finish the first after three rounds.
Only in the sprint part, which Black Rock called Espresso, it’s about being the better driver. Here you get five very short rounds and only one of two jumps. Although at first this won’t cause any problems, as you continue you’ll need to make sure not to make any mistakes to win. But of course this goes for everything in the game as also the races after a while require nerves of steel and decent knowledge of the track. Looking good at the opposition is a good tip as that way you’ll quickly figure out which of the many shortcuts are the best. Unfortunately the freestyle events on the other hand are too easy which disturbs the balance of difficulty a bit.
Important in all this is the customisation of your quad. Ever better, you can build it from the ground up to your liking. With the auto-function this can be done as well, but it’s more fun when you can determine yourself which frame to use, which steering wheel, and so on. With the different parts you can make different four-wheeled vehicles as well. For the races a well-controllable and fast quad is the best option, with the sprints you’ll want killer accelleration and with freestyle agilty and maximum airtime are preferred.
Next to changes that influence the driving behaviour also the looks of the racing monsters can be adjusted. Fiddling around with the colors, bumpers, ventilation exhausts, and so on is according to the makers good to make easily 100.000 unique ATVs. Although visually a lot can be tweaked, a quad does remain a quad. A boob job doesn’t necessarily make your girlfriend a hot broad. Personally I therefore would have loved to see so additional vehicles like jeeps, buggies or trucks but since the gameplay is completely focused on stunts this probably would have been impossible, although normal bikes could have been implemented.
The biggest ace Pure may have up its sleave is the almost unknown graphical beauty. Whether you’re floating over idyllic mountain lakes or dragging through dirt while the sunbeams softly sip through the leaves of the trees, the game really looks in-cre-di-bly good. Also the animations are top. Even only the way the drivers go “leaning” into curves or the impact on a fall are great to watch.
A downpoint is that the tracks after a while start looking alike. Whether the location is a tropical beach or an icy mountain landscape, the sand and mud look alike everywhere. Why not race through snow, or maybe put a piece of asphalt in a circuit here and there? I remained a bit hungry here and that can be said about the entire game. With 50 playable events divided over 10 championships Pure is a bit on the short side, eventhough there’s still the online multiplayer.
Black Rock and Disney have created a promising new franchise with Pure, but the game lacks some content and variation here and there. Nonetheless Pure delivers rock solid off-road arcade action as we’ve rarely seen. Motorstorm: Pacific Rift will have a hard job to beat this quadracer and dirt eaters with a PS3 are facing a difficult choice.