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Pure racing bliss

Oct 9, 2008

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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In an industry where sequels are usually king and many publishers prefer to stick with what's safe, it's good to know that gamers can still be treated to a real sleeper hit every once in a while.

Case in point: 'Pure', a new IP from Brighton, England's Black Rock Studio. 'Pure' has come out of nowhere to sit at or near the top of a pile of high-profile racing games released in 2008, including WipEout HD, MotorStorm: Pacific Rift, and of course, Gran Turismo Prologue.

PureThis is offroad ATV racing at its finest - superb controls, spectacular graphics, huge, varied courses ... there's very few weaknesses in Pure. Like just about any racing game though, especially a brand new one like this that can't rely on a massive fanbase like Gran Turismo, a hook is needed. The hook in Pure is the ability to pull off some absolutely insane midair stunts that would be literally impossible in real life, but are constantly fun to pull off in a game like this.

Whenever you launch off of a jump in Pure - and there are a lot of jumps - you'll be able to pull of tricks by simply pressing a button and tilting the left analog stick in whichever direction you choose. Tricks range from kicking your legs off the side of your ATV, to having your character play a mean air guitar riff while standing on the seat of the ATV.

At first, you're limited to moves that are mapped to the X-button, but as you pull off more stunts, a combo meter fills up, opening up tricks mapped to the B- and Y-buttons as well. Fill it up enough, and you earn the chance to pull off a 'Special Trick', which are very difficult to complete and will occur less often than you may think.

What makes things even more interesting, though, is that you can use the juice in the combo meter to give your ATV a speed boost. Remember though - use enough of your boost, and you lose out on those cooler tricks. Luckily, the combo meter can be constantly replenished during a race.

This gameplay mechanic is what makes Pure absolutely addicting. As you get better at the game and learn more of the tracks, you'll always be figuring out how to get one more trick in before the end of a jump or how to get around a track just a little bit faster.

PureThe meat-and-potatoes of Pure is the World Tour, which consists of several levels, each with its own set of races you have to complete. There are only three types of races in the game - Freestyle, Sprint, and well, Races. The latter is the most basic of the bunch - you're up against 15 other ATV drivers, and it's a battle to get to the finish line first. Freestyle is for those who love to pull off tricks. You're given a tank full of gas at the beginning of a race which slowly empties as you drive. The only way to fill it up is by pulling off special moves or picking up powerups throughout the course. You don't win this mode by crossing the finish line first - you win by racking up the most points. Sprint is similar to Races, except that the courses are very short, with only a few small jumps. You'll find yourself physically encountering many more ATVs in this mode, so it's not just how fast you are, but how well you can fend off an aggressive racer.

We'll be honest - in hindsight it definitely would have been nicer to have a few more game modes such as Elimination, but when you're playing Pure, it's tough to complain.

Many racing games live and die by the tracks they have and Pure doesn't falter in this respect in the least. You'll travel to seven different real-world locales, including Italy, Thailand, New Zealand and the U.S. What Black Rock Studio did was alter each track depending on how deep into the World Tour you are (in other words, the difficulty you're playing on) as well as the game mode you've chosen. If you're in a Freestyle event for instance, hills will be  taller and more ramps will be added, while in a Sprint, you can expect the exact opposite - flatter land and little to no ramps.

Some gamers may actually get bored of the first set of maps. They're fun, but compared to the insane levels you'll encounter in the latter part of the game, they're downright tame. The later levels are also much more open-ended, with all sorts of different paths to take. One thing is for certain though, and that is that it doesn't matter if you're playing your first level or the final race on the World Tour - every course looks absolutely spectacular.

For those who love their unlockables, Pure will not disappoint. Finishing each race results in unlocking all sorts of new ATV parts, upgrades, garage slots, single player tracks and much more. Of course the higher you place, the more you'll unlock, but this just gives another reason to go back and place just a little higher on a race.

And of course the game also features an online component, with gamers able to take on up to 15 other players in any one of the three race modes. It's nothing we haven't seen before but for anyone who has completed the World Tour and wants to challenge the best players from around the globe, it gets the job done.

You really don't have to be a hardcore fan of the racing genre to enjoy Pure. It's main gameplay mechanic is something that can be learned by even casual gamers, but to really master the game and do well in latter stages, those who relish a challenge will have plenty to like here.

No game this year has come out of seemingly nowhere like Pure has, and likely none will. It's probably safe to give this game the 'Sleeper Hit of 2008' award.

Pure
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Developer: Black Rock Studio
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Official Site: http://purevideogame.com/

Rating: 9 / 10

 
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G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.