PURE XBOX 360 REVIEW

Once in awhile, you’ll get a different kind of racing, the kind that involves ATV and the wild outback. That said, Disney surprised us with their very own off-road game called Pure. Pure is surprisingly good, packing in some of the best gravity-defying jumps and the wildest stunts! Pure reminds us of SSX Tricky on the original Xbox. The gameplay mechanics may be similar in design but the action is established in a completely different territory. Black Rock Studio, the developer, has taken the ATV concept and blasted it with a kick, giving gamers a whole new meaning to the word “thrill-ride”. The controls are simple – you load up on your jump, press one of the face buttons, then push the thumbstick in any direction to pull off a crazy stunt. Performing a more complex maneuver will quickly jack up your boost meter. Once your boost meter is full, you can unleash various kinds of special moves.

While it’s exhilarating to execute different types of tricks, landing them requires precision. The reason being is that these stunts are built on a risk-versus-reward system, much like the old saying goes: no pain, no gain. There is no doubt that you’ll get huge reward for strutting off your technical skills, but as you do those special tricks, you also increase the danger of your character crashing. If you don’t complete the trick before landing, you’ll not only be chocking up on dirt but also scrape off some of your boost and valuable position! As you build up on your boost meter, you’ll gain access to a more advanced trick collection, which in turn earns you bigger boost. As you can see, there’s always a trade-off in progress here. The same can be said when you keep tapping down on nitros; there is no doubt you need boost to stay ahead of your competition, but inadequate boosters restrict you from pulling off various extreme stunts! Again, this is another dilemma that you’ll have to face during the course of the race.

Pure comes with a flight of single-player events: Sprints, Freestyle, Standard, and World Tour. Sprints are mostly about break-neck speed. These are short races; the part that’s fun is trying to stay within the racing line. In Freestyle, your main focus is about showing off your “wild side”. The tracks are compounded with power-ups and multipliers; these provide opportunities to instantly max out your boost bar so that you can take advantage of the special tricks; and in return, this will give you the potential to rack up on crazy points. What’s fun about Freestyle is that you can catch a lot of big air and you get to experiment on various outrageous stunts. You keep going until you ran out of gas. Standard events are a mix between Sprints and Freestyle. Your goal is to sprint to the finish line in first place; at the same time trying to fulfill the need to pull off tricks and earn boost. In this mode, you’ll definitely want to make strategies ahead of time, to save you from being burned by the pack or left into the dust.

Of all the single-player modes, World Tour is where the game shines. You start off with a relatively weak competition in the early events but as you work through different tours, the opposition becomes more aggressive and quite fierce. The races here are tough but quite fun at the same time. You can choose from six riders; whether you choose male or female, there is no practical difference between them. What sets the tone of the race is having the right ATV. From the rugged chassis to the 350cc twin-cylinder engines, you’ll appreciate the customization that Pure offers. For those who aren’t grease monkeys, there is the auto-build option. This will allow you to avoid the technicalities of building your bike piece by piece and get right into the action. The best part of World Tour is unlocking many of the new parts for your ride and use them to optimize and enhance your racing experience.

In the gameplay department, Pure provides plenty of entertainment. The action here is intense and even with 16 players bumping and grinding at each other, the frame rate stays smooth throughout. The physics may not be accurately realistic but they give you the feeling of raw off-road experience, such as the roughness of the track as you powerslide through the curves, as well as the feel of your tires digging in deep into the dirt. Graphically, the game is amazing. The amount of details that go into racing bring the world of ATV to life. You’ll see numerous special effects like splashes from puddles when you make your hairpin turn. When you wipe out, you’ll wince from the vicarious pain as your player is dragged across the rough terrain. Many of the dirt roads make up the look and feel of what is like in the outback. What’s more is that Pure delivers a sense of speed without compromising the smooth animation.

The tracks look impressive. You’ll be racing in different parts of the world, from the main land USA to the coastal landscape of Thailand. To ensure the best angles on the action, Black Rock Studio has even brought in a helicopter in each stage to capture all your insane tricks! In the audio department, Pure maintains its superb sound system. The game captures all the roaring effects that go into an ATV engine – not only that but also the external clatters like sliding and grinding on hard mud with your tires. The music offers a raucous collection of soundtracks that keep the adrenaline going and the pace fast and furious. The only downside to the audio system is the repetitive announcer, which can be annoying at times. Thankfully, this is just a small technical hiccup in contrast to what the game offers on the bigger picture.

Despite the game being associated with the SSX titles, we can’t deny the fact that Pure is an incredible reproduction of extreme sport. The game provides high adrenaline experience with its raucous music and amazing trick system. The action is very intense yet unbelievably smooth. What makes Pure so interesting is the intuitive risk-versus-rewards system that has you instituting decisions on the fly. Not to mention the controls are very accessible, too, which will suit both casual gamers and sim players alike. Creating your very own ATV with the ability to jack up its performance is half the fun. But the real excitement stems from being able to land those outrageous tricks! Thanks to the game’s visceral presentation, you’ll definitely feel the weight and the thrilling sensation of what ATV racing is all about. Pure comes out to be an incredibly exciting off-road package – purely fun and purely addicting.

FINAL SCORE: 8.5 OUT OF 10