Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Developer: Black Rock Studio
Release Date: September 16, 2008
In the beginning, when arcades were king, there was one type of racing game, where you held the accelerator button and tried to get to the finish line as quickly as possible. Usually, when the brake came into play, it was already too late.
Then came Gran Turismo, and racing games became split into two official camps. One contained the loose mechanics and steering of arcade games, and the other sought to simulate the experience of driving a real car. This went on for years, with the arcade games getting simpler but adding small gimmicks, and the simulation games becoming more and more obtuse. As a result, there were few fans of both.
Over the years, however, the line has been blurring. The gimmicks of old-style arcade racers have been becoming more appealing, and some have even added aspects of tuning to the mix. Sim racers, meanwhile, are beginning to come around so as to attract more players. More terms are getting explained, controls are becoming easier, and a good time is being had by all.
With all this in mind, Pure definitely leans toward the old-school arcade mindset, but there are methods to its madness and genius in its simplicity. It's an ATV racer, meaning you're in a fast sucker that's still light enough to jump off of even the smallest incline. What's there to do when you're sailing through the air? What else? Bust out crazy freestyle tricks. It's developed by veterans of the ATV Offroad Fury games, so they've had plenty of time to get this right.
Pure's racing experience is linked to its boost meter. The better you do, the more boost meter you gain; the more boost meter you gain, the higher the ranking of tricks you can perform (these tricks cost boost meter). The more complex tricks you perform, the faster you go, and by consequence, the better you do — provided you don't crash out, of course. It's pretty much a never-ending cycle of high-speed awesome, and with 80+ tricks to choose from, it'll be a while before showing off gets tiring.
Of course, you can also just save your boost-meter for a Special trick, which, if pulled off correctly, can send you sailing over just about everything at crazy speeds, and help you rocket past the opposition. If you're lagging behind, finding a really high jump and pulling off a Special could well put you back on the fast track to first place. Course shortcuts and tricks also go hand in hand.
Along with the simple, fun racing, other features include 16-player online matches and the ability to build your own custom ATV entirely from scratch. The building process can be fast-forwarded and rewound, so as to give the player an exact choice on modifications, and skip past what they may not care about or even understand.
Pure is already on the track to becoming a sleeper hit at the very least. It's easy to get into, and fun to race for the best lap times by using just the right combination of speed, tricks, and boost management — all while showboating one's butt off. On the show floor, play proved to be fluid and fun. Its high-speed, trick-heavy gameplay was actually reminiscent of Excite Truck, of all things. It's great for people who don't want to be burdened with a complicated simulation experience, but it still contains substance underneath the style.
Coming from someone whose favorite racing game is still Daytona USA, this is a principle I can definitely get behind.
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