Motorstorm was one of the best games – and biggest surprises – when the PS3 had its much-maligned launch: a gorgeous, hectic and fast ride through a dusty-filled selection of exciting circuits. Pure, the new multi-platform racer from Disney, is in much the same vein, albeit with ATVs rather than a selection of vehicles, and the inclusion of tricks.
These additions make Pure resemble a cross between the frantic racing action of Motorstorm and the trick-fuelled gameplay of PS2 stalwart SSX. It’s an infectious combination, and one that combines to create consistently stunning gameplay.
Sixteen ATVs take part in each event, and races are split into three categories: regular events are three longer laps, sprint races are five 20-30 seconds lap of furious action, and freestyle events give you a tank of petrol that slowly depletes. Executing tricks gives you more fuel, and the longer you last the better you do. It’s simple – as are all the game modes – but perfectly executed.
Races are arranged in World Tour mode, which provides the main meat of the (offline) gameplay. Much like Motorstorm, events are listed in groups of between four and seven races. Good results see you moving higher up the rankings as well as unlocking ATV parts, new circuits, and costumes for your riders.
Building ATVs is – curiously, in a similar way to building houses in The Sims – one of the most involving parts of Pure. There’s a huge amount of parts to fit to your vehicle, and they normally fall into one of two categories: racing machines are good for, well, racing, and freestyle rides are better at tricks. It’s essential, as you progress, to have ATVs that specialise – so you can succeed in different types of race.
While the game mechanics are all there, then – the progression, race structure, customisable vehicles – nothing, so far, is revolutionary or too different. Thank god, then, for the actual racing.
It’s absolutely fantastic. Sixteen ATVs burst off the start line, weaving over tracks that (more often than not) have several thrilling routes, bashing into each other to try and take the lead. The numerous differences between vehicles is immediately obvious: if your ATV has a decent acceleration statistic, you’ll visibly burst ahead of the majority of your rivals – only to be caught out when quicker machines hit their stride.
The handling is spot-on, too. It’s terrifically easy to get to grips with; the analogue sticks seems made of rubber as you fling the ATV around corners, sliding through mud and using some hard-earned boost to avoid slipping off the edge of a cliff. You can improve your handling through ATV upgrades, but it never feels difficult – just far more comfortable and intuitive.
The highlight of every Pure race, though, is flinging yourself off a ramp and performing tricks. The system works well: the X button, when coupled with a direction on the analogue stick, performs a trick. L1 or R1 tweaks it. Land successfully, and you’ll gain boost.
Boost can be used either to unlock more demanding tricks or to go faster. Get enough boost and you’ll unlock tricks on the circle, and then the triangle buttons – again, with the same variations and tweaks available. Nail a triangle trick and you’ll unlock a range of SSX-style uber-tricks that score huge points but need plenty of air to land successfully.
Pure comes to life in the air; the wealth of detail that surrounds you on the ground – lively, busy tracks, fifteen other raging maniacs trying to beat you – disappears as the edge of the screen bleeds and the music fades away. It’s you and your ATV as you tweak tricks and hit more moves in a frantic scramble for points.
After hanging in the air for what seems like a hugely unrealistic amount of time, you begin to plummet; the sides of the screen wobble as you practically feel the air rushing past and tugging at your t-shirt, and the rest of the world changes – it suddenly stops being peripheral vision and becomes a very real concern as you plunge back into the mud – hopefully successfully – and reap the rewards of some risky sowing. It’s a genuine adrenaline rush and one that Pure is eager to make you experience again and again.
It’s also a stunning-looking game. Tracks are a little more varied than Motorstorm‘s consistent them, so you visit the various parts of the USA, Europe and plenty more countries. The circuits, then, are a bit more varied – Mediterranean ruins one one track and a working mine on another, for instance – but there are some constants.
There’s always plenty of trees to crash into, and huge amounts of mud to plough into. Thanks to the way that Pure almost immediately shoves you back into the race – without losing much time – crashing is relatively inconsequential, though; it’s a game that recognises and rewards risk taking.
Bear in mind, though, that Pure isn’t without its faults. It’s too easy and too short, for one; a concerted afternoon’s effort will see you ploughing through four of the twelve race sections without too much difficult. Success isn’t restricted to the top three places, either, as is usual; especially early on, you can move up by finishing in the mid-field, which is a bit of a shame. You come to Pure looking to be challenged and to succeed, but you can progress by finishing in 7th place.
The fact that it’s easy to plough through the main meat of the game does mean that longevity isn’t Pure‘s strong point – this is a short, concerted hit of adrenaline that rushes through you, rather than a long-term, slow-burning game to be enjoyed over many months, unless you take it online to eke more life out of it without retreading over old ground.
I hope that Disney see fit to release plenty of DLC to increase Pure‘s lifespan, or develop a sequel that builds on a fantastic foundation and combines the stunning gameplay with, well, more of a game – more tracks, more competitions, more tricks, and more modes.
Still, though, Pure is phenomenal while it lasts. The racing is fast, furious, frantic and every other adjective in this vein that you wish to throw at it, and the trick system is enormously responsive and enjoyable. The lack of depth is, possibly, the only minor disappointment here. In every other measure, it’s a must-buy.