Recently the lads from Black Rock Studio took a trip down under to show us Pure, the upcoming ATV style offroad game which aims to take the sport from niche to the mainstream around the globe. Competition is rife in this market with the US games selling high numbers of copies year in year out, and many already established franchises taking that market. However Pure does appear to have the goods to impress later this year and we had a demonstration and hands on time with the game to see just how far developers Black Rock Studio have come.
The first real thing to remember is that Pure is not aiming to be a sim. Excuse the pun, but this game is meant to be pure unadulterated fun. You choose your rider and then a bike, and get dropped into some of the most gorgeous environments you are likely to see on a next generation console this year. At the core this may sound like every other racing game around but there is something about Pure that really felt different to us. Not being the biggestfans of ATV racing, this is something impressive as we did not expect to like the game as much as we did with our hands on.
There will be a number of game modes in the game ranging from quick races through to world tour style tournaments. However it is once you dig deeper that you start to see exactly what the developers are trying to do. As well as racing in the world tour, the game will also give you the ability to build your ATV racer from scratch with various parts available in the game. Again, this may not sound that unique, but considering that every custom rig will be available to race online and none will race the same as another, it is going to be a battle of not only racing ability, but the mechanics of the vehicle as well. For those who just want to race, the game can quick build a four wheel bike for you as well.
The other game mode works off the trick system. At the start of the race you have a set amount of fuel for your bike. As you perform tricks more fuel is added to your vehicle, with the meter progressively depleting faster the more time goes on. It really is a mode which reminds us of 'survival' from fighting games with the aim beingthe player still racing when everyone else is running on empty wins. This wasn't as fun with the AI as we imagine it will be online with fifteen other players.
The best way to describe the gameplay in Pure is a mix between Tony Hawk Pro Skater and ATV OffRoad Racing, with a little bit of Motocross Madness thrown in there as well. The developers have paired some crazy tricks with some fantastic racing and appear to be on a winner. One thing which surprised us is the depth. We found it difficult to pick up and play right away, but once the controls were grasped, the game showed its true colours and won us over. The trick system also has a risk and reward approach. Using boost will speed up your bike to make bigger jumps, but reduces the trick meter which is split into three sections. As you perform tricks (which interestingly are simply done by pressing a face button) you gain points on that meter and eventually unlock the higher tricks. Crashing will lower this bar, and you can move from a higher band of tricks available to a lower one if you get a particularly bad run. It is here that one of the most annoying aspects of the build comes to show and that is AI riders landing on you. Sure, it's realistic, but being punished for something completely out of your control is not so much fun.
Although the build we played only had two tracks, those two tracks showed the graphical power of the engine. One track had us racing through a jungle style environment in a remote area, with the other set atop a large mountain with huge residential vistas visible below. On the Xbox 360 at 720p the graphics were unbelievable. The game did not miss a beat despite being a preview build and it is clear that Pure is likely to be one of the best if not the best looking racing game on 360 this year. The tracks also show a huge level of variety. There is about five or six ways around each track with shortcuts and secrets present throughout. The AI demonstrated this with almost every rider taking a different path, and each having a pro and con. One way might shave two or three seconds off the lap but have a huge risk factor, for instance. This risk reward system is prevalent throughout the game at this stage.
The multiplayer racing pedigree of this developer is second to none. Moto GP 1, 2 and 3 and their popular online communities are the feather in their cap and they are applying what they learnt with those popular games to this title. They have guaranteed sixteen players will be online and are already testing this on the Xbox 360 debug network which, given that there is still a few months to go, bodes very well for the game. We are confident that this one will hit its release date.
Pure may have had little fanfare so far but it's clear that this could bring ATV racing to the mainstream gamers. It's fun, it's furious, it's online, and with Black Rock Studio having such a racing background there is no doubt that it will be a top racer. We went in expecting a fairly run of the mill ATV racing game and so far we have been proven wrong. We can't wait to play it again and have been itching to do so since the hands on. Hopefully more impressions will follow very soon on this potential sleeper hit.