ATV Racing....Could Be Worse
It sure took a while for an ATV game to get it right, eh? Pure isn’t quite what I was looking for in a racing game, but 2008 was kind of a slow year for good racing games in general. 2009 should be better, but Pure’s accessibility is a nice diversion. I’ll credit it with feeling very different from the other off-road racers. I finished Untamed this year and that is a perfect contrast to this. Where Untamed did many types of racing veiled in mediocrity, Pure kind of gives a shot of adrenaline into ATV’s.
The biggest issue I had with the demo and Pure in general is the way it handles. I’m not a fan of the loose controls. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like the game auto-corrects itself when you get off the track. And the only reason it would do that is because you slide all over most of the time. So it’s like driving down a tunnel to me. The problem with that is I’m trying to drive it myself. So between how I play and the way the game plays, usually I’m over-steering. It’s weird and even harder to explain. Maybe the braking works, maybe it doesn’t. I always feel like the game is faster when you break instead of drifting. That doesn’t make any sense to me. I’ve struggled with few games like this, I just haven’t mastered what exactly it wants me to master. I think the game would have been more fun had the controls been tighter, that’s all. Unlocking parts can help, but they don’t give the support I need.
If that is the worst thing I could say, the best thing I could say is how well it looks. Maybe everything is a little dark, but it all looks fantastic. The backgrounds all have nice vistas, trackside is littered with detail and the tracks all have interesting paths to take. Nothing looks as good as for me though. You take these really big jumps and you can just see everything for miles, the ocean and islands nearby. Others aren’t so interesting but there is variety. The desert for example, I’ve had enough desert. Not only do I live in one, but every off-road game has something set in a desert. I’m over it for sure. The other mountain tracks are fun, but again, just not all that nice for me. I also understand why they put the dark edges around the screen, but I don’t like when developers do that. It’s almost like they do it to keep you from looking anywhere else. Problem is, I like to see things outside of that tunnel I’m being guided through. It was a nice effect, but I can live without it now. The blur effects for boosting are cool. I don’t really notice them and that’s the point. It’s just a nice looking game set in some environments you rarely see in games. Since every game is now set in the post-apocalyptic space future I can honestly say it’s nice to look at a tree once in a while.
The career mode is the same career I’ve been playing for years. The races are fun, albeit dragged down by the AI. Maybe I can’t see good AI. All I know is I always seem to run into them on corners and they always seem content keeping me stuck on them, slowing us both down. The sprints work really well. They’re short, and pretty technical. The trick based stages are really fun. Since your stacking increasingly complex tricks you can find a path on the tracks that give you the best line to make points and combos. There are fun bonuses. And instead of having a time limit you get a fuel bar. As you lose fuel you can gain more by hitting the fuel bonuses. So that acts as your time limit. Once you’re out, you’re out.
Having spent hours upon hours of tweaking vehicles in video games for years now, the garage in Pure just rules. You can view each part of the ATV on the left side of the screen. If you’ve unlocked a new part you can have it instantly added. The other things is holding either X or Y will build an ATV for you based on your criteria for a racing ATV, or a trick ATV. This is so helpful for anyone who wants to avoid figuring out the best set-up for any race. And anyone who wants that can still build an ATV however they want to. The parts are laid out easy enough. It’s the deepest builder I’ve seen for this kind of racing game. Adding and removing parts is nicely balanced for everyone. The other nice thing is the real parts. All the brands are authentic and it really helps sell the game to me at least. The characters you choose from are awful, and meaningless. Do we really need the stereotypical dude or chick that rides these things?
Online is, well, okay. The modes are all there. The challenge in this like any racing game on the 360 is finding people to play with. And finding people who aren’t going to beat you every time. The only advice I have is to unlock as much as possible in the career mode, otherwise you’re just headed for disaster online. The leaderboards are nice too. You can see how your friends did on each track, etc.
Pure isn’t the toughest thing to master. It can be for everyone. I still think of all the 2008 racing games it had the most to offer and the least to lose. Burnout tried something totally new, Grid was new, and Midnight Club was hardly new. In the end it wasn’t the year for me. But Pure gave a nice diversion and isn’t the time commitment racing games usually are. It’s brief and simple. Hey, I like brief and simple sometimes.