Racing games have evolved a lot over the years from simple kart racers to a genre that now contains a ridiculous amount of depth and variety. Whether you favor a more realistic racing simulation or a classic, arcade-style high-speed racer, you’ll find something out there to enjoy. The newest addition to this ever-growing genre of games is Pure, a racing title that puts aside complicated driving mechanics in favor of a more straightforward, adrenaline-pumping driving sensation.
In many ways, Pure very much achieves what it set out to do. There are certainly some problems with the title, but from the moment you power-on the game, you get the sense that the developers are on a mission to impress you as much as possible. From some really breath-taking courses to huge jumps and a fantastic sense of speed, Pure feels very, well…pure.
The game’s controls are mundane and might suggest that this is just another run-of-the-mill racing game; thankfully, such is not the case. Right and left triggers control gas and brake, respectively, with the left analog stick your virtual steering wheel. You’ll pull off a variety of different tricks with the right analog stick and three of the four face buttons, with the fourth assigned to boost.
In terms of modes, what you’ll likely be playing most by yourself is Pure’s World Tour mode, which essentially serves as the game’s career mode. You create a character, modify your vehicle, and hit the track in several varied races attempting to come out on top in the end. There are three different event types to play: Freestyle, Sprint, and Race. Each requires a different racing focus, and there’s enough variety with these three modes to feel like you’re actually playing differently each time.
These modes are spread out over a spectrum ranging from more precise (Sprint) to absolutely crazy and over-the-top (Freestyle) with Race falling in the middle as a happy balance. Race is obviously the more traditional racing game mode, but the other two also offer a lot of fun. Regardless, the point here is that Pure manages to spread out the content a bit so the focus isn’t all on one facet of racing. While the awesome air-grabbing sequences characterized by Freestyle mode are probably the most fun, you’re never pigeonholed into playing a certain type of racing game. The freedom that Pure gives you is impressive and appreciated.
That said, you will probably have most fun with Freestyle mode because it’s here that Pure’s strengths come most to light. The best time you’ll have with this game is pulling off tricks, building up your boost meter, and taking your ATV off massive death-defying jumps. Since Freestyle is all about racking up combinations of tricks and keeping the clock alive, it’s a mode that’s very conducive to the title’s central fun factor.
The tricks throughout Pure are one of the most impressive parts of this package, because they’re very cool to look at and there’s a great variety of them. You perform tricks with the right analog stick and three of the face buttons, and it’s a really simple, intuitive system. You can even modify tricks while in the air with the controller’s bumpers. Pulling off tricks fills up your boost meter, but overusing tricks nets you fewer points. As a result, you’re encouraged by the game to constantly try new things, attempting to max out your points and refill your boost as often as possible.
The game’s solid graphics also serve to bolster the experience. The tracks are varied and well-designed, and most of them are absolutely beautiful. The panorama that you’ll see when wheeling over a ridge or flying off a drop are breathtaking, and it’s certainly true that the technical accomplishments of Pure go a long way in making the races more enjoyable.
Possibly, what I love most about Pure is the fact that it never loses sight of what makes it fun. Too many games take a tried-and-true mechanic and then arrogantly try and fix it. The development team acknowledged the obvious fun in going fast, performing tricks, and getting air. That’s what they based the game around, and, as a result, each race is just plain fun. There are no obstacles to overcome with controls or interface. You just play and enjoy yourself.
Sadly, this focus on speed and simplicity can also be a problem for the game; the fact of the matter is there’s just not a whole lot of meat to this game. It’s great while it lasts, but it’s quite short. Admittedly, there is plenty of opportunity for replay value thanks to the high-quality courses and wide variety of new tricks to discover. But even with such in-depth customization features as the ATV builder, Pure can get a bit stale sooner than you’d like.
In many ways, Pure is in a conundrum of sorts. It homes in on what’s fun but, in so doing, cuts out a lot of content that would in other racing games provide a lot more depth to the title. It’s awesome to be able to just pick-up-and-play this game, but at the same time there are no racing maneuvers to master, and Pure is not a particularly difficult game. That said, it’s really fun while it lasts and the superb 16-player online mode certainly extends the life of the game. There’s even an extra play mode online that lets you play to your strength (finishing first, getting the highest trick score, etc.) and they’ve carried over the single-player modes. A local multiplayer option would undeniably have been nice, but the online component is solid, nonetheless.
There’s a lot to love about Pure, but at the same time it can be hard to shake the feeling that something’s missing. At its best, Pure is a game that puts you in the middle of the action and exhilarates you with fantastic racing fun. But it’s not going to last you particularly long even with the multiplayer aspect, and I can’t help but wish that Pure weren’t a $60 game. There are other, deeper, and ultimately more satisfying racing games out there. But for a pure, pick-up-and-play sense of speed and fun, Pure is hard to beat.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.4 Graphics
Solid animation, good-looking vehicles, and amazing tracks. Each track is varied in terms of locale, and they look gorgeous. 4.2 Control
Simple, straightforward controls are easy to get the hang of. The pick-up-and-play mentality of Pure goes a long way to making it an effortless, fun racing experience. 3.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Nothing really stands out in the music department, but you’ll probably be too busy gazing at the beautiful environments to care about the lack of great sound. 3.3 Play Value
It’s fun while it lasts, but Pure is a disappointingly short game without much depth. Luckily, you will spend a good chunk of your time with the enjoyable online mode. 3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.