Over the past few years, off-road racing games have constantly taken a back seat to the more impressive and prestigious street-racing and sim racing titles like Forza, Project Gotham and Gran Turismo. Earlier this generation we had the very attractive and accessible launch title for the Playstation 3 in Motorstorm that seemed to generate an all-new interest in a racing genre that has never really been represented well in the video-game sector. There was also developer Climax Studios who brought us the enjoyable yet somewhat inconsistent ATV OFF-ROAD Fury series that never really generated much attention.
With a new name and partnership with Disney Interactive Studios, the now-named Blackrock Studios has come up with a solid, enjoyable, arcade off-road racer in Pure. In the developer’s first title for the current-generation, they’ve continued on their inspiration from ATV bikes and focused on character and bike customization, coupled with insane tricks and really, really fast off-road racing.
A large buff of the single-player mode takes place in the World Tour which comprises of 10 separate stages. Each stage is made-up of a series of Race, Sprint & Freestyle events.. You’ll earn points depending on where you finish in each of those races, and each engine class requires a certain amount of points to unlock the next engine class. While it’s not necessary to finish first in every single race, it’s a necessity if you want to achieve an overall ranking of numero uno in the world ATV rankings. The number of parts you unlock for your bike for further customization is also dependent on where you place.
The three racing types vary in requirements and style. “Race” is your typical, round-the-track race that increases in difficulty as you enter the higher engine classes. “Sprint” consists of five 20-30 second laps around short tracks and relies heavily upon quick bursts of nitros and quick turns. “Freestyle” is definitely the most enjoyable of the bunch, with Mario Kart-like pick-ups placed around the course. The main objective is to score the highest amount of points with tricks before you run out of fuel. The pick-ups vary from gas cans, to boost and trick power-ups, to score multipliers. While this mode is nowhere near as intense and challenging as the “Race” mode, it generates a level of addiction caused by its insane combos and emphasis on high jumps. This mode is what Pure is really about; high jumps, insane tricks and unbelievable trick combos.
Pure has a heavy focus on tricks and boosting. While only the “Freestyle” mode has a main focus on tricks, you’re going to have perform some insane ones in order to fill up your nitros boost meter in other modes. Starting off by pre-loading your shocks and then hitting the X button, you perform tricks after flying off high jumps. Completing a successful jump will increase your boost meter and “unlock” the next round of tricks in an anti-clockwise direction of the face-buttons. Once you reach triangle and fill up your boost meter, you’re rewarded with a Special Trick. If you perform one of these, your boost meter is automatically filled back up again and you’re rewarded with yet another Special Trick. It’s totally up to you as to which way you want to use the nitros. In “Race” mode, filling up your boost meter and then hitting the nitros with a push of the square button works a lot better than simply using small bursts of nitros within the first round of tricks. However, in “Sprint” races, performing a trick and then using a small burst of boost is encouraged as you probably won’t have the opportunity to reach the maximum level of nitros.
The trick and boost feature definitely makes Pure such a great and accessible off-road racer. While the Race mode in World Tour has a definitive competitive feel to it, the tricks give the game an arcade feel.
Probably one of the most impressive aspects on the presentation front for Pure is the licensing and customisation available for your bike. Bike parts are fully licensed and each part contains anywhere between 2-10 different types. For example, the bike shocks contain around 10 different types, five of which are more suited to racing bikes for better handling, while the other five are more suited for high jumps and tricks. Creating two separate bikes is probably wise as the bike needed for “Freestyle” and “Race” definitely varies. If you create a bike with shocks suited to tricks and high jumps, the handling is going to be low and less accessible for quick turns. Therefore, having two bikes with different parts to suit one of either “Race” or “Freestyle” would be a smart move.
The track design is fantastic and each mode is countered perfectly with splinted versions of each track. All up there are only twelve tracks, but these are cut up, reversed and modified for each version, so it really feels like there are about 50. The “Race” mode mostly uses the tracks in all of their entity, however the “Freestyle” and “Sprint” modes use the sections of the tracks with more jumps and quick short cuts respectively. The locations vary from Thailand to Italy and each has their own sense of environmental beautiful as they all perfectly recreate the feeling of the area they’re set in. Each course has its own number of shortcuts, but it’s wise to snoop out where the computer-controlled racers go first to avoid speeding off the track. If you do happen to bump into a wall, veer down a non-shortcut path or head in the wrong direction, the game will automatically place you back on path. This gives the game a distinctive linear feel about it. If you do happen to crash into a wall at high-speed or miss-time a trick and fall off your bike, you’ll be penalised with a loss nitros boost and a round of tricks.
The multiplayer in Pure has you racing through mud and performing insane air tricks against fifteen other racers online. It’s probably one of the better online racing experiences this generation and offers plenty of enjoyment when you’re coming up against human-controlled racers. Unfortunately, there is no local split screen racing, but that’s made up by some really awesome online action.
Graphically, Pure looks great. It has a somewhat “Crazy Taxi” feel about it with the character design and game presentation, but overall it’s a great looking title. The environments are lush and bright with great lighting and dirt effects. Performing some insane jumps will give you a nice view of the environments, especially on the Thailand track where the blue sky and sea stands out against lush green jungle.
The soundtrack compliments the style of the game perfectly, with a mixture of punk, rock and rock hip-hop to satisfy most of you with an ear for good tunes. There’s a custom soundtrack option, which allows you to choose which songs you want played during the modes, as well as an impressive mixing technique in which a song’s volume is tuned up or down depending on what is happening on screen.
Overall, Pure is filled with thrills, spills and some insane off-road racing action. The World Tour offers plenty of action for the single-player gamer with a lengthy mode and impressive array of bike customisation option. Multiplayer is great fun with up to 15 of your friends and while there isn’t an abundance of different game modes, Pure offers plenty with what it’s got.