Pure Demo Hands On
15/09/2008 at 13:52
MTX? ATV? ASL? FO!
This generation has been noteable for a couple of reasons. Firstly - hardware seems to be as flaky as hell compared to previous generations as machines are pushed to the very limits of their capabilities, and catch fire like Hans Moleman's electric car every time you push them just that little bit too far.
The other noteable thing about This-Gen is that it's suffering from a distinct lack of decent off-road racing titles. Where are Rallisport Challenge 2s and Motocross Madness equivalents in this hardware lifecycle for consoles?
The last publisher you'd expect to see a light at the end of the tunnel from would be Disney Studios Interactive, but by signing Black Rock Studios and letting them loose in the dirt and mud with Quad-Bike racer Pure (yes, I still hate the name. It's muddy so why name it after a bar of ladies' soap?)
Playing the recent demo gave gamers a first look at how those stunning static shots that Disney have been pumping out actually look when everything's moving. From the 360 version it's safe to say that Pure actually looks like a hell of a lot of fun and just as tasty when everything's moving as it looked when those first screenshots hit the net.
Pumped for Pimping
The full version of the game promises a wide variety of racing vistas coupled with one of the most realistic and intense customisation designers yet seen in an off-road racing game. If you so wish, you can tweak and customise your bike from the ground up, changing everything from frames to tyres to shocks in order to finely tune your racing machine to deliver the style of racing that suits you best (fast acceleration or ridiculously good handling, the choice is yours).
Of course, in the demo you don't get any of that but what you do get is a sense of how the thing plays.
Leading you through a series of tutorials, Pure first challenges you to complete a simple lap of one of the tracks. Blitzing round with mud flying in the air feels right - and the way the quad bikes handle should please those of you familiar with any of the PSP's ATV vs MTX games. It's still arcade-like but at least it's satisfyingly solid feeling.
Performing stunts in the game gets you boost. This could be why the game really heavily reminded me of EA / BIG's old MTX game Freekstyle. The more outlandish the trick, the more boost you'll get but if you keep repeating the same tricks, you'll just get a dribble of nitrous for your trouble.
Rather niftily, with each level of boost you attain, you'll unlock another set of tricks (bog standard tricks are achieved by using a directional move plus the A button on 360 but later you can also use the B button and finally the Y button for increasingly complex manoeuvres). Or in true Freekstyle / SSX emulation mode, you can blart all your boost as a nitrous burst to get you ahead of the competition.
Preloading before a jump is quite nicely done too. Leaning back on the left stick before a big jump then quickly tapping a trick button and jamming the stick upwards at the apex of a jump will give you even more height than normal, producing some quite stomach churning stunts.
Once you're done learning the basics, Pure throws you into a proper race against several CPU opponents all jostling and bumping for position. Here's where everything you learned in the tutorial comes into play as you constantly work out the best trade off between using as much boost as possible for speed, or going all out for the most outlandish tricks. The demo circuit is pleasingly multi-forking so there are several different routes to take with each lap.
Flying by the seat of your pants
Though the demo ends once you've finished off that single race, Pure is one of those horribly addictive titles that makes you scream "Just one more go, just one more" for no better reason than to see just how quickly you can leave the opposition standing this time round (the CPU racers are pussies and if you don't win the race, you need new thumbs).
Though the trick system works well most of the time, there were a few frustrating instances where the mere act of performing a trick move actually caused me to crash on landing. Tricks must be performed quickly and efficiently before straightening up for landing. For what it's worth though, this is exactly the same problem I had with the last few SSX games and though it's odd to keep comparing Pure to SSX, because of the game dynamics there are times when BIG's best loved series will be uppermost in your mind as you hit a jump or watch your little ragdoll rider fly through the air to land straight on their arsebone down in a ditch somewhere.
Stunt niggles aside though, it's a hell of a lot of fun and reminds me why it's a crying shame that there aren't a few more games like this on the 360 and PS3.
Here at AATG we'll be covering the full game when its released but in the mean time grab the XBLA (or PSN) demo and see if you can wring as much fun out of it as I have.