When you think Disney you don't typically think off-road racing. Which is probably why Disney Interactive bought up Black Rock Studios, a developer known for their off-road racing titles, including their work on the ATV Offroad Fury and MotoGP franchises. This time around the studio created Pure, a brand new franchise for Disney that focuses more on the exhilaration of speed and tricks than on the nitty-gritty of realism and detail.
Can Disney break into an already saturated genre, taking on BAJA: Edge of Control and MotorStorm: Pacific Rift with an ATV trick title? Lets see.
Exhilarating Tricks: Tricks in Pure truly stand out. They are what make this game different from the others hitting this year. And it's not just about the occasional can-can or Superman, it's about building up your ability over the course of the race to do increasingly absurd, over-the-top tricks that have you floating free of the ATV for giant chunks of time. Better still, if you mess up, and don't scramble back into your seat in time, you know there's a good chance you'll lose.
Snappy Controls: Forgoing the realism of locked tires, or speed-induced topples, Pure concentrates instead on making sure the controls are exceptionally responsive. It might not be completely realistic, but it's fun.
Custom Rides: I'm not a gear head myself, but even I thought that it was kind of neat to be able to change every single piece of my ATV out with a laundry list of substitutes earned through races. You can even paint everything. And if you don't want to bother you can have a ride randomly created for you.
Tight track design: The tracks in the game, there are only a dozen locations, are all fairly hitch free. Each offer up enough different routes over the course of a race to almost give the illusion of total access.
Strategic Boost System: Boosting in Pure is tied directly to tricks, which are tied directly to boost. To earn boost you need to perform tricks. The more boost you have the more complicated the trick you can perform, which delivers even more boost. This yin and yang of boost and trick adds a bit of strategy to races as you try to determine if you can pull off a trick in the short amount of air time you get on a jump. If you don't take the chance you can boost as much, but if you do and fail it's going to be hard to catch up.
Limited Tricks: With the game relying so heavily on its beautifully animated trick system, you'd think the developers would have included more. Sure, getting up to the highest level of tricks is hard and performing them requires monster air and very good timing. But with only 20 or so tricks to work with things are going to get old quickly.
Static Tracks: The tracks are well designed, but it would have been nice if they showed a bit more wear and tear as you zip around them over and over and over again. I'm all about track deformation these days and while the game says it has deformation, I've yet to run a race where it was noticeable in a way that affected the outcome.
No Local Multiplayer: Local multiplayer should be a must, in my book, but I understand the reasoning behind not always including it. Well, usually I do. With a racing title, one that has such a short list of tracks and tricks, you really should include the option for split screen racing.
I like Pure, a lot. But I suspect that won't last. I need my off-roading to be a bit more robust, offer split screen races, maybe some more modes, to keep me interested. Despite that, Pure has one of the best trick systems for an off-roader that I've seen in quite awhile.
Pure, developed by Black Rock Studios and published by Disney Interactive onami was released on Sept. 23 for the PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. Retails for $59.99. Played all tracks and modes of Playstation 3 version and tested online.
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