Pure is a game that can be described in a single word: fun. It seems almost fitting that a game with such a "pure" and simple title can described with such a simple word. Pure comes to us courtesy of Disney. Wait, What? Disney's doing an ATV racing game? Well, since Disney would certainly be more than a little out of place creating such a game, the development task fell to Black Rock Studios, who have more than a little bit of experience with this game style, having had a hand in the ATV Offroad Fury and MotoGP franchises. The final result is a fun, good-looking arcade racer that is a mesh of the ATV Offroad Fury and SSX series.
As stated, Pure is an arcade ATV racing game. You'll spend most of your time in the World Tour mode, where you need to race, sprint, and do crazy, over-the-top tricks on your way to the number one position in the world. Before you can get into any of that, though, you'll need to build your ATV. Considering how simple much of the rest of the game feels, the method that Pure takes to build your ATV seems bizarre.
There are no prebuilt ATVs in Pure; every single ATV must be built from the ground up by you. The press materials claim that there are over 65,000 possible ATVs to build, and I don't doubt it. There's a pretty deep creation process, with around two dozen different sections of the ATV to customize and plenty of parts for each section. Color, parts, decals — it's all up to you. Many of the ATV parts seem to be there for aesthetic value and in no way affect the statistics of your vehicle, but if it all seems too overwhelming, you can have the game auto-select the best parts. As you progress through World Tour mode, you'll earn new ATV parts and upgrades. While I appreciate the deep customization and effort put into the vehicle creation, it feels ridiculously out of place in an arcade racing title, and such a deep, realistic customization system will likely baffle and overwhelm a majority of players.
Once you actually get into the game, you'll find yourself climbing the ranks through a 10-stage world tour. Each stage has between four and seven events, and the races become faster, harder and more demanding as the game continues. At the outset, simply finishing in the top half of the lineup will be good enough, but in order to beat the final stage of the World Tour, you'll have to win all seven events in it.
There are three types of events in Pure: races, sprints and freestyle. Races are pretty self-explanatory. You're put on a course with 15 other racers, and you go nuts on a three-lap course. As you race, you'll come across countless jumps, and you can perform a number of tricks off of these, which add to your thrill bar. When the thrill bar is empty, you can only perform the simplest tricks in the game, such as can cans and bar hops, but the more you build up the meter, the crazier you can go. You eventually reach the point where you're doing crazy things such as running like the Flintstones alongside your ATV. Eventually, you can build it up to a special trick, at which point your guy takes an enormous jump to pull off, the game enters slow motion, cues a special sound effect, and he does something absolutely ridiculous. Alternatively, you can use your built-up thrill bar as a boost, which consumes the bar and lowers the level of tricks you can do, but you get a hefty little speed boost in the process. Knowing when to store boost for pulling off crazy tricks and boosting around the track is key to winning.
The racetracks are complete genius in their design. They're big, there are multiple routes all over the place, and the terrain deforms a little when you drive over it. Your ATV reacts differently to different terrain (good luck trying to turn through a puddle of water in a muddy patch of track). There are only about a dozen tracks in Pure, but they're all a blast to race through again and again.
The second type of event is the sprint, which is a much simpler form of racing. The track is shortened to about 20 seconds, with maybe one small jump per lap and five laps. These races are all about shaving milliseconds off your time wherever possible. You won't be doing much boosting, but to win, you will need to keep up your speed around every turn and make the most of any boost that you do have.
The third and final type of event is freestyle, where tricks come into the spotlight. You'll need an ATV with a good trick statistic to win because every trick you perform awards you with points. The bigger the trick and the longer you hold it, the more points you get. Each trick adds 1x to a combo multiplier, and when you land a trick, you have a few seconds to find another jump to keep the combo going. The winner is whoever has the most points by the time he literally runs out of gas. For freestyle, power-ups are placed all over the courses, which are just the regular racetracks with additional ramps. These power-ups can do, such as add to your thrill bar, give your combo 2x the score, or even stop your gas tank's depletion for a few seconds. You can also slow down the gas depletion by doing crazy stunts; the crazier the trick, the more fuel you get back.
The race and freestyle modes are the most fun modes to play, and while sprint serves its purpose, it's just not as enjoyable by comparison. Thankfully, the World Tour mixes things up quite a bit, so you'll always be doing a little bit of everything in each stage.
In addition to having fantastic-looking tracks and decent character models (their personalities are all of the usual hideous stereotypes, which is extremely annoying), the audio is also pretty darn good. The roar of the motors, the flinging of dirt, and the sickening crunch of the ATV landing after a 400-foot drop — it's all awesome. However, the soundtrack is a bit lacking. Why is it that every offroad racing game these days feels like it needs Wolfmother in the soundtrack?
Pure is a good length and provides a pretty good challenge as you progress through the single-player portion of the game, but once you're done with it, you can head online. All of the races, sprints and freestyle events from the single-player mode are there. You're going to want to have finished the single-player segment first, as there are still no prebuilt ATVs online, and a player who has finished the single-player part is going to be able to go significantly faster than somebody who has only just begun. Further compounding this issue is that there just aren't very many people playing online; it's almost impossible to get a full 16-player match going. In every single one of these matches, there are always a few people who don't have the fastest cars, and that just makes it seem like there are even fewer players in the match.
When it comes down to it, Pure is fun. It's simple, it's effective, and it perfectly captures that "just one more race" factor. While it may be too simple for some, most players will find it to be a thoroughly enjoyable arcade ATV racing game. While it does have a few faults, such as collision detection problems, an annoying soundtrack, mediocre online play and a strangely complex ATV building system, the core strengths of Pure far outweigh those problems. If you liked games like Motorstorm, ATV Offroad Fury, SSX or even Tony Hawk in its glory days, you really owe it to yourself to at least try Pure.
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