Replay Value: 8.3
Cool Boarders has been the only snowboarding series that the PS has had. The franchise wasn't always the most brilliant but it did have its bright spots. Cool Boarders started out the phase being the very first 3D snowboarding game on any console, Cool Boarders 2 pushed the franchise to newer heights with better visuals and sicker gameplay. But just like Gameday and Twisted Metal, Cool Boarders 3 was weak. With UEP Systems leaving CB3 in order to develop for the Dreamcast, the CB franchise now looses most of its excitement and succumbs to what is a poorly developed third game to the Cool Boarders franchise. Thankfully the fourth CB was better and more enjoyable, and best of all it brought back the excitement. Now with mediocre snowboard titles such as Psybadek, Trick N' Snow Boarder and MTV Snowboarding, snowboarding games seem to be getting tiring and worn out. But THQ thinks that it can do better, using their MTV license once again with a snowboarding game, THQ partnered up with Radical Entertainment once again to develop MTV Sports: Pure Ride. With the horrific release of MTV Sports Skateboarding, I was praying that THQ would redeem themselves with MTV Sports Pure Ride, clearly my prayers have been answered.
Pure Ride in some areas will eerily remind you of EA's SSX for PS2 and other times Cool Boarders. The SSX part comes in with the neat looking colors that some of the Stunt and Big Air stages have, which is sort of reminiscent of some of the stages in SSX. Environments have a great amount of detail, although everything is just snow, Radical threw in a variety of multiple paths for every stage which makes riding on the courses always feel more varied rather than linear. Pop-in is present but it isn't as showy as it is in other games. If you take a good look, the draw-in is there but the distance is great though and doesn't affect gameplay at all. Boarder detail is far better than any other snowboarding game out there on the PS. The bodies are finely constructed with no polygonal clipping, great animation and nice looking trick animations. The hands, legs, neck and head show no seems between the body and where the body part connects to the torso, unlike some of the Cool Boarders 3 where that was quite noticeable. The textures such as ramps, kickers, rails, trees and cars are solid, they may not compete with Tony Hawk 2 but they do hold their own ground. Lastly unlike THQ's Skateboarding game, Pure Ride's frame rate is superb and runs smoothly never disrupting the gameplay. I've got nothing but good things to say about the visuals, they even put in some nice looking lens flare effects, but the engine is simple and is basically just snow, but I still think the visuals are pretty.
Getting the hang on the game takes time folks, it really does. Unlike Tony Hawk's friendly gameplay, Pure Ride will give you more of a hair pulling time, in the beginning it seems complicated and hard, but once you play the game over and over again you'll get the feel of everything and feel right at home. Radical struts their stuff by giving the game a very needed and helpful Freeride option which will greatly help you progress in the game. Freeride will get you acquainted with what Pure Ride has to offer, the tricks stages, and the different boarders. While of the topic of boarders, Pure Ride features over ten boarders both fictional and human, each skater has a different feel, and stance so no two characters feel the same. The snow courses include countries such as Canada, US, France and more. There are a few hidden tracks and tons of hidden secret skaters that need to be unlocked in the Tour Challenge mode. Besides Freeride and Tour Challenge, Specialist, Stunt Mode and Build a Mountain are other choices. Specialist is where you pick one of three events, Halfpipe, Big Air or Slopestyle. Halfpipe is an event where you try to score as many points as you possibly can on a long straightway path, Big Air is an event that requires you to score a certain amount of points in one attempt, and Slopestyle requires you to stream down a snowy mountain and grab a certain amount of points until the finish line. Stunt Mode is perhaps the hardest of any mode, it starts out just by jumping across a hole and picking up a token, then it follows with doing Rail2Rails grabbing and tokens at the same time. As you progress to the final stage, every mission will eventually come together and form one big obstacle for you to get through. And finally the Build a Mountain mode is where you take an available track and modify it to your liking, while not as wonderful as Tony Hawk 2's Park Editor, the Build a Mountain mode is still resourceful and a nice touch. Completing the game can take a long time, that's why Pure Ride is an incredibly worthy game of a purchase.
Of course being an extreme sport, Pure Ride must have an all star cast of performers with edgy rock beats. And that's exactly what Pure Ride delivers, an edgy soundtrack featuring Incabus, Bender and Gravity Kills. There are ten bands that the game will let you choose from, when the game is loading a track right before an event. I wouldn't say that I like all of the songs, there are at least four songs that I can't stand, so the soundtrack is in no way comparable to Tony Hawk 2's. The sound effects are nice, the snow getting slapped by the nose and edge of the board sounds great, and so does the air wooshing when your boarder would mindlessly spin in the air grabbing 1080s. Overall, positive sound but some of the songs hamper it down a notch.
Too bad that the controls aren't like Tony Hawk. Instead of pressing Triangle to grind, you have to jump towards a rail and press X when near it so that the boarder would almost fly to it, thankfully there is no limited amount of grinding, so you can pretty much grind a whole pole without worrying one bit. Triangle serves as the grab tricks, Square has the Mute tricks and O has the method tricks. Of course every single boarder has a special which can easily be done by pressing L2 and any of the three trick buttons, or if you want some huge points with your huge air, then hold L2, R2 and any of the three buttons to score some points. The analog and Dual Shock are both superbly used so you can feel every bail and crash.
My final verdict on MTV Sports Pure Ride is that it's an excellent product, but not without its flaws, on the other hand the positives almost make the negatives completely invisible. When playing Sports Ride you can help but imagine that you are playing the 32-Bit version of SSX. Because of the similar lighting in a few stages, Pure Ride can reflect SSX. Pure Ride's gameplay is definitely all there, the challenge level is high and will leave pulling your hair out, but after you've gone down to the level of Homer Simpson, created new curse words that never existed and probably threw something at your TV, you will then eventually get that one secret character. The bottom line is that this game is addictive!