It's the third last corner and you're in eighth place, battling for second. You batter into the vehicles on your right, then on your left before preloading for a jump, you make the jump successfully but your opponents aren't so lucky. You creep up into fifth place with only two jumps left before the finishing line, you use the boost to take the second last jump, you're going fast enough to reach an alternate route which is a shortcut, you make it into third place with a close eye on second and first place. There is one last corner, you use the boost, but save enough to pull of a trick on the last corner, you take the corner, one of your opponents takes a tumble and it's neck and neck for first place, before you boost towards the finish line and wait for the result. Were you first or second? In Pure, these are the kind of heart stopping, adrenalin-infused events you'll take part in every single race. That's mud on the back of your pants right?
Let's rewind a bit. Pure is best described as SSX on wheels. The game is an off-road racing title developed by Black Rock Studio, who were recently acquired by Disney. Black Rock previously worked on the Moto GP and ATV Offroad Fury series, but with Pure they've launched a new IP and it seems like they've been given complete creative control over what to include. In the end, it has well and truly paid off.
Pure is all about the gameplay. Racing is relatively simple, you'll accelerate with the right trigger and brake with the left trigger, while the left analogue stick controls your steering. You can also pre-load your jump, which is essential when it comes to pulling off tricks and it is the tricks system which really sets Pure apart. When your quad is airborne, you can pull off a trick by simply tapping one of the face buttons and a direction on the left stick. At the very beginning of a race you'll only be able to pull off one level of tricks, but as you successfully pull these off you'll unlock Level Two tricks, followed by the Level Three tricks. As you unlock new tricks you'll also earn boost, now while this boost can be used immediately, in using it you will lose the ability to pull off some of the higher levels of tricks, so during a race you'll be cutting a fine line between boost and tricks. Not much more can be said about the trick system. Pulling off tricks is remarkably simple and as the game gives you a rating on each trick you pull off, you'll want to keep pulling off different tricks so your routines don't get stale. The controls, likewise just work, the quads are simple to handle and even though you'll be pulling off complex tricks within ten minutes of picking up the controller, you won't be pushing twenty different buttons at once to execute these tricks.
The main single player mode in Pure is the World Tour mode. The World Tour mode lets you choose a racer, then lets you build a bike from scratch and then throws a whole set of different challenges at you. There are three main single player event types; sprint, race and freestyle. The sprint races are short and tougher with very few jumps, the race mode contains decent length tracks with a few opportunities to pull off some jumps and the freestyle mode is where you race against time to try and get the largest trick score possible. The three single player event types are solid, but they do feel a little bit limiting at times. Aside from the World Tour mode there is also a trial mode as well as an option to play through any event you'll unlocked in World Tour mode. This can make Pure a rather short lived experience for the single player.
Which means you'll just have to become connected and participate in the online multiplayer mode, which already has quite a following. The game includes all three of the World Tour event options as well as a new mode, called Freeride. In freeride competitors race against the clock to score points in different areas, such as lap times and trick combos. The game also supports online play for up to sixteen players and we had no issues with lag, we were also able to find a game quite often relatively quickly.
It's the little things which set Pure apart and make it such a compelling game. Things like the T-Shirts of the riders flapping in the wind, to the wild sense of vertigo that the game gives you. Graphically the game is absolutely stunning. It's quite simply one of the best looking games we've ever seen, the tracks are long and expansive and when jumping over a hill you can see ahead for miles. It's absolutely beautiful on both consoles. At all times, even when things became nice and hectic the frame rate stayed solid as well, which is to be commended in a game that looks as stunning as Pure. The soundtrack is solid too, with songs from bands such as the now defunct Wolfmother and The Futureheads. The narrator can begin to grate after a little while, but he can be quietened.
Pure is one of the best new IPs of the year. The trick system is simple to understand, the races are frantic and give you a real self satisfaction when you win them and the graphics are simply incredible. Most importantly though the gameplay is solid, even if the game is a little light on options. If you're looking for a filthy arcade racer then Pure will be right up your alley.