When I first laid my eyes on Pure, I was a bit skeptical. I thought the idea of newly formed Disney Interactive making a hit was rather slim. Then we come to find out that the developer behind Pure would be the very same developer behind MotoGP (Xbox version) and ATV Offroad Fury 3...albeit with a new name, Black Rock Studio. To my further surprise, when I first played Pure at E3, I was completely blown away. In fact, most people were, as Pure was largely recognized as one of the biggest surprises of the show. A sleeper no longer, Pure began to amass anticipation from gamers and the press alike, and now that we've got the full monty in our hands...the end result is nothing short of pure awesome.
Yes, that was an extremely obvious pun, but it has to be said. While Pure doesn't exactly sound like a striking offroad kinda' name, make no mistakes about it, this is one fantastic dirt racer that's sure to hold a special place in your collection. The first thing that comes to mind when playing Pure is just how beautiful it looks. And while this subject borders on the topic of visuals, it requires mentioning simply because of its positive effect on the gameplay. It actually uses art direction that's similar to Sony's MotorStorm 2, with carefully chosen backgrounds that leave you in awe every time you're high enough to see the landscape around you. The environments are truly stunning and define the next-generation experience. On top of being stunning, the environments are also enormous, boasting numerous paths, and a plethora of detail. The jumps you hit in the game are absolutely insane in height, as well, and really add to the overall epic sensation that surrounds Pure.
But that's just the beginning of it. Pure has a fantastic sense of speed, so not only does it look stunning, but it also moves briskly. The game uses an unconventional method of pulling off tricks. As you progress through a course, you'll be able to utilize a variety of tricks, over 80 in total. Some of the tricks are real and some greatly exaggerated, all of which are broken up between four different level tiers. Trick tiers are Basic, Advanced, Pro, and Special. You'll start off only able to pull off basic tricks, once you complete one basic trick, the gauge will expand uncovering advanced tricks, and so forth. The Special Tricks are unique to each racer, and these are the exaggerated, yet very awesome moves.
Refrain from repeating tricks to build your gauge faster, as at the end of the gauge, once you've passed level three tricks, that's when you'll be allowed to perform your special move. As you can see, Pure offers a very specific take on stunts, which goes beyond the norm we've become so used to in other games. I do think that the trick list is just a bit small with 80 moves in total, and hopefully that's something a sequel could improve on.
An ATV customizer gives the gamer the ability to put together an ATV from the chassis up. You'll have complete control over the creation of your vehicle, as the game features up to 65,000 combinations in parts during the ATV creation process. Parts range from everything to the most basic decals, all the way down to the hardware performance components of your ATV. The customization allows you to create an ATV from scratch...and we mean that almost literally. Instead of slapping a few stickers or a paint scheme on your ATV, you start off the customization process with nothing but the chassis. You can use a quick build feature for an instant custom build if you're too lazy to spend some time. Best of all, all parts in the game are also licensed.
In total, there are 16 different riders for you to choose from, but the most impressive aspect of this is that all of those 16 riders will also be on-screen racing against each other. So the races in Pure will carry a total of 16 players, and that's including the events online. In addition to high-flying stunts, racing will also require that you actually manage to pull off the high-flying part by pre-loading your jumps with a simple pullback of the analog stick, and then shooting it forwards just as you hit the end of a ramp. No need to worry about this mechanic, it's extremely intuitive, as are the rest of the controls.
The World Tour mode is the game's core career mode, and it will take gamers all across the world over beautiful terrain with eye watering scenery. Trust us when we say that this game's visuals are absolutely stunning, as is its track detail. Your races will consist of three different events: Race, Sprint, Freestyle. The Race mode is your typical race to the finish; Sprint revolves around a more technical and challenging event where you'll need a solid command over your ATV; and Freestyle pits you against the game's most daring jumps, so you'll have to make the most of them by pulling off as many tricks as you can. 12 locales are broken up into a total of 50 tracks, solidifying Pure as nothing less than a fantastic value.
To add to that, multiplayer offerings are superb, as well, as Pure can handle 16-player online matches, running just as well online as it does offline. Considering the popularity that MotorStorm's online gameplay amassed, we hope to see similar results with Pure. All in all, if you can't tell by now, this game plays sensationally well and offers a ton of game for the money.
Visually, as I've already mentioned numerous times, Pure is a sensational looking title. The scenery it boasts are some of the best this generation has ever seen. When you reach those heights and you're overlooking on miles and miles of background detail, you will feel nothing less than awe. Nearly everything about Pure is fantastic. It runs at 720p, and the framerate carries the game around at 30 frames per second, but never once does the framerate stutter or the screen enduring tearing of any kind. On top of that, there's a super slick image that's boasting superb anti-aliasing for a picture that's as smooth as you can wish for. Everything from the texture detail, to the ATVs, to the riders looks really good...you'd be hard pressed to find any nagging flaws about Pure's looks.
Then there's the audio, which features some voice acting, taunts from riders, the usual crashing sound effects, and of course, a soundtrack. The soundtrack isn't terrible, and it gets bonus points for using Wolfmother's "Woman", and Jeff Beck's "Grease Monkey". The paltry little engines from the ATVs sound pretty solid, coming through the speakers crystal clear. Sound effects such as splashes, crashes, and bumps sound equally superb, making Pure a pretty solid technical package, on top of a great playing one.
Overall, it's going to be an extremely tough pick between MotorStorm 2 and Pure. We've played both and we can easily recommend that you get both. You should not miss out on Pure, as it's one of the most impressive racers this generation has seen. It's certainly one of the biggest surprises of the year, as well, and I urge you to be a part of that surprise. Pure's gorgeous visuals and amazing gameplay make this an easy $60 purchase.
9/27/2008 Arnold Katayev