Black Rock Studio’s quad bike racer Pure takes big air to fantastic new heights and enters the player into the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) world tour, a contest to find the most skilful and daring extreme motor sports athlete in the world. The competition spans locations across the globe over race, sprint and freestyle disciplines.
Handling of the ATVs is to pick up. Before long you will be power sliding through long muddy corners with ease. However, Pure gets really interesting when all four wheels are off the ground, as getting big air and pulling off gnarly stunts is what Pure is all about. The whole experience is geared to doing obscenely big jumps; motion blur is liberally applied as you power your way to the lip with nothing but sky ahead. Once airborne, music is cut and all that can be heard is the whistling of the wind, as suddenly the beautiful surroundings are crystal clear. The pay-off is big, and with 15 other riders performing comically improbable tricks shoulder-to-shoulder 100 feet above ground, the results can be hilarious.
Upon landing, you will be rewarded with a thrill bonus the magnitude of which depends on the difficulty and length of trick, a familiar gameplay mechanic to anyone who has played Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Filling the thrill meter unlocks harder tricks and allows you to boost. Boosting depletes the thrill meter but will have to be used frequently to win the tougher races; hence tricks and racing have both been very neatly incorporated in equal measures. This balance is arguably Pure’s biggest triumph; though most of the features on offer have been seen before they may never have been combined with such polish.
Pre-loading allows you to vary the height of a jump via an up-down flick of the left analogue. Avoiding pre-loading and powering through certain sections will often be quicker – this however, will give you less opportunity to perform tricks. Factor in courses with multiple paths of varying altitudes and there is a lot to think about for an arcade racer. Navigating the interweaving track designs at such high speed can be slightly bewildering and keeping to the quickest path requires split second decision-making. Slip up and that “massive jump in the completely wrong direction” moment might cost you the race, but the sheer audacity of Pure often raises a smile.
Three different game modes are available: race, sprint and freestyle. The basic race option incorporates tricks and racing, while freestyle awards highest points for the wildest stunts combos. Instead of a lap counter, a slowly lowering gas gauge limits the event time: the player with the most points as the last ATV runs out of juice wins. Sprint takes place on shorter tracks with only small jumps, which shifts the focus onto racing skill.
Before entering a race you will have to select an ATV, these can be built from the ground up by selecting individual components or swiftly auto built. Improved components are unlocked as you progress through the world tour, colour schemes and sponsor stickers can be chosen to create you unique ride to show off in the multiplayer arena.
The presentation of Pure is generally very good and menu screens can be navigated quickly to get to the action. There will be little time to admire the highly detailed environments that rush past until airborne, and thanks to some nice camera effects and constantly moving character models the overall appearance is quite realistic. When special tricks are performed they are accompanied by cartoon-esque sound effects, which is slightly bizarre and creates the feeling Black Rock Studios couldn’t quite make their mind up on what level Pure should be pitched.
Up to 16-player online racing is available in race, sprint or freestyle events. Join a quick play lobby and within a minute you can take on virtual adrenaline junkies from across the world, five minutes later the next random selected event starts and you’re on the starting grid again. Races generally run smoothly and its always fun to see dismounted human-controlled riders rag doll through the air as you speed past.
Those looking for realistic racing sims should look elsewhere and those after trick-fests might want to give THPS or EA’s Skate a go. If you want a well-balanced combination of both, inflated to extreme proportions, then Pure comes highly recommended.