What would you call a racing game that has lots of dirt and mud? Pure probably wasn’t the first title that came to mind, in fact it sounds more fitting for a snowboarding title, carving your way down a pristine white mountain. Take a little while with Blackrock Studios’ new ATV racing game and there will be moments when the title clicks, along with that string of tricks combo’d into your final Special Trick.
The first thing that clicks in Pure is its graphics. Stages are laid out across huge mountain ranges and deserts, all modeled and rendered beautifully. The environments have some great subtle bits of lighting that really pop the character models and ATVs off the various browns, yellows and greens you’ll be screaming through. Despite the high speeds, good number of on screen opponents (16) and large environments, the game never misses a beat with no drops in frame rate, even when things get hectic.
Not much is original in Pure’s gameplay department, like other action sports titles you’ll bust some ridiculous tricks to build up a boost gauge. The slight difference the game throws at you is the ability to unlock harder tricks by having more boost gauge saved up. This throws a little bit of depth on top of the game’s otherwise straight forward arcade approach, you’ll have to be deciding often on the fly whether or not to expend boost or continue to build it with more difficult, and hence more rewarding tricks.
Figuring out when and where to use your boosts are key to your success in Pure. As mentioned earlier, tracks are huge and in addition have many different routes to explore. Along the way you’ll encounter huge jumps, hair pin turns, cliffs and various other obstacles. A well timed boost or jump may decide the difference between a wipe out and landing on an alternate route, saving you valuable time or setting up your next big trick. When you’re landing your tricks and finding your routes, Pure really lives up to its title. In an awesome choice by the developers, when you hit an especially large jump the music will cut, slowing everything down for you to enjoy the trick you’re rocking in mid air.
Like most racing games you’ll be honing these skills over the course of numerous races and events. Pure’s main mode World Tour, drops you into a garage to start with. It’s a wise move to get you accustomed to building and tuning your ATV right from the get go, because as you progress through the events you’ll unlock all types of new equipment for your ATV and rider. As the game’s difficulty starts to ramp up it’ll be increasingly important to tailor your vehicle to the event, whether it being better handling, speed, or tricking ability. Building your ride is a lot of fun in the beginning, since it allows you to give your rider something personal to race on but the necessity of tuning later can be rather annoying. Pure runs into a little bit of an identity crisis, not really knowing whether it wants to be an arcade racer or a simulation. We’re not talking Gran Turismo levels of tuning but there are a large number of customizable parts and it can be a bit daunting in comparison to Pure’s otherwise straight forward gameplay.
Music is another place where Pure takes a misstep. It’s not that the music in Pure is particularly bad, just like Tony Hawk or other extreme sports games it consists of licensed upbeat rock and punk, which is fine except there seem to be only a small handful of songs. Compound that with the fact that most races take over five minutes to complete and you’ll have heard Wolfmother too many times to count before you know it. Since the game uses licensed tracks it seems the perfect fit for XMB music support, but sadly this feature is sorely missed.
Another feature that missed the cut, which is far less forgivable, is splitscreen multiplayer. MotorStorm made this error at the PS3’s launch and fortunately Evolution has corrected it for the impending release of Pacific Rift, but there really isn’t any excuse for an original console racing game to not have a splitscreen mode. Pure probably couldn’t work split four ways with the limited viewing space and sometimes ridiculous speeds but this game needs a two player mode, even WipEout HD has it and it costs a third of the price.
Of course Pure can still be played with friends in online multiplayer, and it runs very smoothly. Racing with 15 other live opponents there was no noticeable lag and the wait time between matches was kept to an extreme minimum. Finding a match is a breeze, and you’ll be racing in no time at all. The only small hiccup in Pure’s online mode comes with the different engine types. ATVs come in four types, D to A, with A being the fastest. If you’ve only completed half the World Tour you’ll only have a C class engine, and without having an engine filter for online matches you’ll be finding yourself in an immediate ten to fifteen-second handicap.
Pure really does have its moments, the little bit of depth thrown into the driving and tricking mechanics give you something to improve each time out. Unfortunately you’ll have to take turns having those moments with your roommate. However, if you live alone or hate your roommate the online should keep you interested for a long time. In the end, Pure still tastes fairly good but you know it’s been diluted.