Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Black Rock Studio
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
150 KB to save game
2-16 Players Online Multiplayer
I remember walking through Disney Interactive Studios demo room with my PR rep during my annual trip to E3 in Los Angeles. As we were meandering about I noticed an HDTV displaying a game where an ATV launched into the air with wild abandonment while the rider did some pretty slick tricks. I was really surprised with the on-screen visuals and the feeling that the game gave of being so high in the air. The game that caught my attention was simply titled Pure, and it is developed for Disney by Big Rock Studios. I have to say since that first look this game has had my full attention leading up to its retail release. This includes the available demo on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace that kept my HDD busy. Well Pure has finally hit store shelves and I have to say that I am really happy with the final product.
Visually speaking Pure is a winner. From the first time I launched my ATV off of a mountainous jump in Italy I knew I was in for some pretty amazing graphics. There is a wide array of scenery for you to take in on any given track, and I am so glad that the variety of eye candy is abundant. From the tropics of Thailand to the airplane graveyard of Ocotillo Wells in California, each setting has it own look, its own atmosphere, and its own style. Everything is rendered so solidly too. I looked for signs of draw-in in the distance and except for some really minor pop up now and then the details were visible as far as eye could see.
In terms of the ATVs and the riders themselves, they too are well done. They move like they were actually riding an ATV, and when you end up baling off your ride, well it is definitely a sight to see. Also somewhat impressive is the fact that there are up to 15 other AI riders on the track at once, and each rider manages to give the game a feeling that you really are in an off-road ATV race battling for the number one spot.
Lighting and shadowing is evident on each track. Take a look as the sun shines over a crest of mountains or through a canopy of trees that makes up a thick forest, the effects are amazing. There is a lot of work on the little details too. Grass sways in the wind, puddles and mud splash up and there is even dirt and gravel kicked up by the ATV itself. Trust me, to see this game in motion is to see what developers are doing with the Xbox 360 at this juncture in its lifecycle.
For me the audio in a game of this nature needs to be bang on, and luckily Pure is up to the task. From the sounds of the ATVs to the varied environmental effects (e.g. mud or streams splashing) everything really manages to pull you into the game. Sure, I have never been a diehard ATV rider, but man do these things sound good. Of course it also helps if you are running your Xbox 360 through a good stereo system as everything will sound that much better, enveloping you in good old Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.
As for the music in Pure, well it too gets some pretty good marks from me. It is best described as a rock-like and it seems to help add to the tension of the race at hand. I found myself reaching for my remote control more then once to turn up as the music that was belting out of my speakers as it was that good. Overall the audio is a great compliment to the graphics and gameplay found in this title.
For those looking for a deep racer full of simulation elements you better just stop reading right here and move along. Pure is an arcade racer through and through, and this is definitely not a bad thing at all. Big Rock Studios did not try to hide the fact that this game is all about speed, thrills and massive jumps, and after playing the game I have to say that I don’t blame them. It does what it does and it does it well.
Pure doesn't offer a whole lot in the single player department, but that doesn't mean you’ll fly through the game that quick. World Tour is the equivalent of a career mode. Here you compete in various off-road races across seven different locales including Italy, New Mexico, Wyoming, Thailand, New Zealand, Glamis Dues and Ocotillo Wells. When you first enter into the World Tour Mode you are thrown into a tutorial and once you complete it you then progress through a series of races that gradually get tougher while the tracks get more diverse. You will race through a total of 10 stages which contain different events in each stage. There are a total of three different types of events: Race, Sprint and Freestyle.
Race events pit you against up to 15 other riders in an all out trick filled race to the finish. Sprint events are short and intense races with 15 riders and very few jumps. These are noticeably crowded and very competitive. Finally, freestyle events are held on some very outrageous outdoor tracks where your goal is to earn the highest point total in a session to claim top spot. You’ll have to keep an eye on your gas gauge though as you could run out. There are bonus items throughout (e.g. 2x score multiplier or nitro) to help you earn some outrageous scores.
Although it seems that you only need to race around a track to win, it will take more then that be victorious. You need to use your turbo boost to keep up to the front of the pack, but to earn the boost you need to pull of tricks when in mid-air. This is where the beauty in Pure lies, making sure you can manage both of these tasks while racing in the various events. The trick system, which is quite simple, allows for some very cool aerial dances. You will start out only able to do beginner tricks by pressing the A button. Each time you pull of a trick your turbo meter starts to fill. You can use the turbo you earn or hold on to it and fill your turbo meter allowing you to access intermediate tricks (B button) and eventually advanced tricks (Y button). Each level of trick you pull off fills more of your turbo meter and eventually you will fill it up and enabling you to pull of your ‘super’ trick which requires a lot of airtime to successfully complete. Remember though, you need to use your turbo to pass other riders or pull of a really long jump too, so you need to manage your turbo use and as well as when to do your tricks.
Another thing of beauty is how well the game controls. As with most racing games you will use the right trigger for the gas and the left trigger for the brakes. Your right analog stick is used to steer while your left analog stick is used to “pre-load”. The latter is key in nailing the big jumps and tricks. By flicking down on the left stick your ATV will get in a position to launch off the jump and once you hit the jump you need to flick the stick up. This provides bigger air which in turn allows you to pull of some of the bigger tricks. Like I said, the control is pretty much perfect as the ATVs cut through the mud and corner very realistically as they do not feel like they are on rails. Some of the harder courses later on in the game are quite difficult and they will have you making snap judgements to get the best lines. Also complicating things a little more is the fact that you have to land your jumps correctly too. If you should come in too steep or over compensate by leaning too far back you will inevitably bail.
Pure also includes a garage for those looking to specialize their ATVs. But before you get too excited it isn’t as deep as one would hope. Remember, this is not a simulation game. You start off with a basic set of parts to choose from. You can build various styles of ATVs to compete in the three different areas of racing and you can have multiple styles of ATVs in your garage. As you win you open up new parts and you can continually upgrade you ATVs to your liking. The only negative side to this is that the whole process is somewhat cumbersome. You will need to go into the garage and go through all the available parts to find the one(s) that you unlocked. I think that this process could have been more intuitive and if there is a sequel it could use an overhaul.
For those who do not want to race in the World Tour mode there is a trial and single event mode available. In the trial mode you attempt to break records on tracks that you have already unlocked without having to race against other opponents. Single event allows you a chance to race in single events that you have already opened up in World Tour mode. So in the end, although the single player experience is rewarding, it won’t last as long as a lot of other racers on the market, but then again there is still enough to keep you busy.
During my time with the single player modes I found myself enjoying what the game had to offer. The computer AI could come at me really hard and there were several races where I had to battle it out for on-track supremacy. There is no doubt that anyone who plays this game will find some challenge as they make their further into the World Tour mode, especially as they attempt to open up all the available tracks. And with around 50 tracks or so on top of the incredible amount of ATV customization, there is enough here to satisfy the racing fan in anyone.
If you choose to take your racing online then you should be happy that Big Rock Studios made sure to include a pretty good online mode. You can race with up to 15 other players at once in any of the three single-player events. You can also play in ranked or unranked races. There is also an online-only mode called freeride. Here you race against the clock in different areas of any of the courses in an effort to score points. This is an interesting mode as if you just want to get the quickest lap time; you can just focus on that. Should you desire to make some insane jumps and tricks, then feel free to focus on that. You can do anything you want in freeride and it is a nice way to just kill some time and enjoy what the game has to offer. Technically speaking Pure plays well over Xbox LIVE. The limited time I spent online played very smoothly with very little to no lag.
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