The Pure press party wasn't much to look at - a huge dark room with some faux Italian statues and sweet-looking bikes you couldn't touch - but that might've been Disney Interactive Studios's plot all along, because compared to the party, Pure itself looked awesome.
This is due in no small part to the visuals. Each track in Pure is loaded with smooth-looking graphics and lush backgrounds that almost distract you from racing. The bikes themselves don't look half-bad, either. Though there are no licenced models, each part of the bike is licenced and if that means anything to you, you can look forward to cobbling together some pretty sweet custom bikes with some of the best parts; there must be more than a thousand combos you could come up with. Bikes either skew towards fast racing models, or slower trick bikes. An auto-build-your-own mode lets you get as crazy with customisation as you can stand without having to go through each and every bolt and frame choice.
On to the actual gameplay. We were treated to the multiplayer experience - not a great idea because they pit journalists against the production team so needless to say, we got slaughtered. But at least we got to see most of the seven tracks in the game while getting our asses handed to us. There were two tracks apiece for Thailand, New Mexico, and of course, Italy (hence the statues) plus one extra track I never made it to because I kept toppling off of cliffs. The idea is that one track usually has all the high jumps and is better for trick-racing, while the other is a lot shorter with tighter turns, a true racing track. Both are decked out with images appropriate to the area (hot air balloons for New Mexico, jungles for Thailand, etc.)
We spent most of multiplayer going through Freestyle mode where the idea is to do as many tricks, grab as many power-ups and (obviously) finish first to get the highest score. Tricks are crucial to gameplay in Pure because without them, you don't earn boost - and without boost, you can't win. Other modes include Sprint (a straight-up race) and a third mode I again didn't make it to by virtue of dying a lot.
But don't cry for me, Argentina - dying in this game is fun. Of course since Disney's holding the leash, you're not going to get bloody gore, or sickening bone breakage; but developer Black Rock Studio sure knows its rag doll physics. After the third time I failed a coffin trick and landed on my head I deliberately started to see just how sick a wreck I could get into, giggling like a girl with a glitter stick in art class.
A PR rep noticed and tried to correct my epic fails by re-explaining the controls. "Just hold down the right trigger to go forward... Yes, that's it. Now, you've got to push the right stick forward when you're going up a hill and then pull it back right before you launch to get really high... Good, good... Okay, you start out only with basic tricks by pressing A while jumping. Oh, look, you unlocked B tricks... hey, you did a Superman! Okay, okay... Now, land it. Land it."
I asked about a crash-cam. He said something about ESRB ratings and took me off of multiplayer. "Let's see how you do on a basic track... let you get the feel of things."
I did get the feel of things pretty quickly in single-player. Pure is nothing if not intuitive. By the end of the first track, I was pulling of the Y button tricks; insane feats that you simply can't do in real life - like ghost-riding the whip 150 feet in the air. Apparently, if you nail these tricks, you're given the option to create your own tricks by holding down the left and right buttons.
"We want this game to be for everybody," said the PR rep. "We can't make it too hard or too graphic."
"Uh-huh," I said, ramming into the side of some ancient Roman ruins.
He gave me the hairy eye. "You really are a fan of Burnout, aren't you?"
Pure is out September and I look forward to getting my driver killed in new and interesting ways with every race.