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Pure (Xbox 360) artwork

Pure (Xbox 360) review

"Pure will just have to settle for being more fun to play than it really has any right to be."

Iíve never raced a quad bike along some of the worldís most picturesque landscapes, so I donít know for sure how authentic a racing title Pure really is. Maybe busting phat tricks off improbably stacked earth mounds and sheer drops has a scientific reason for filling your engine with nitro and, hey, maybe it is entirely possible to dismount the bike in mid-air and air-run alongside it without the nasty side effects of painful demise. But I doubt it; a lot of things in Pure wonít fly in real life but thatís more or less what makes it such a blast to play.

Pure has more than just a hint of over-the-top cartoonish action about it, highlighted by the overly-elaborate high-end stunts a racer on a roll can pull off. Your arsenal of tricks is layered, meaning youíll have to slowly upgrade the complexity, starting at the simple like sticking out a leg or looking back over your shoulder mid-jump to eventual tricks like hitting a handstand on your handlebars and kissing the fender, or spinning the quad through several revolutions before (hopefully) touching down intact. But to unlock the bigger and badder tricks, youíll need to snap off a series of smaller ones to fill your nitro bar. The fuller the bar, the more outrageous and rewarding the trick.

Hereís the catch; the nitro bar isnít called that for kicks and giggles, and it also works as a source of high-octane fuel needed to give your quad a huge dosage of acceleration. As such, maintaining it is the gameís biggest conundrum, as it acts as a currency of sorts; you need to save it up to buy the bigger tricks that let you earn more but, fail to spend it at the right points to rack up your speed, and you may find yourself too far behind the pack to claim a decent finish.

This back and forth dynamic really helps give Pure a unique feel that sets it apart from just about any other racing title I can think of. Itís not impossible to win a race without using the nitro bar, but it will require liberal doses of luck, skill and forethought. You might get lucky and the leaders can all stack on jumps they try to trick too heavily off. You might be good enough to run the perfect race, nailing every mud-entrenched hairpin corner or popping off every ramp. You may learn the multiple routes of each course perfectly so you know which shortcut to take, or how to hit that jump just so you land on a hidden ridge situated well above the normal track. For the most part, youíll need a combination of all three. And youíll still need to hit that boost.

The juggling act this mind-set advances is all about a balance of risk and reward. For more boost, do bigger tricks. For bigger tricks, you need more boost, so youíll end up trying to string combos together to increase multipliers, or trying to slam huge stunts into gaps and ramps that donít really allow for it. As such, you can find yourself spending a lot of the game eating dirt, or being flung off cliffs, so itís to the gameís credit that, even in the higher rated races, so do a lot of the other quad racers. The first few big jumps of the first lap are a beautiful concerto of unbridled chaos as sixteen racers all take to the air at more or less the same time, all pulling off as big a stunt as they dare. Landing in these cases is the tricky bit, because itís inevitably going to start raining drivers who have just fluffed their lines, and out-of-control quad bikes that no longer have anybody left onboard to control them.

Chaos is perhaps the best way to describe Pure, itís a title that forces you to undertake several tasks at once if youíre going to find any success, and that helps stave off any repetitiveness the game may otherwise had suffered. It exists in this weird bubble that stops it being pigeonholed into any particular genre. It has enough realism to stop it from being a pure arcade title, but being able to hit a triple front flip off a huge cliff drop doesnít lend it to being comfortably fitted into a simulation title, either. In the end, I suppose Pure will just have to settle for being more fun to play than it really has any right to be.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (April 22, 2012)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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Linkamoto posted April 22, 2012:

Nice review here, and I feel like you hit the nail on the head. I've played it, and your ability to eloquently convey the fine balance needed to be successful is laudable. Fun as hell game. And a damn good review.

Minor spelling/typo thing: I'm sure you meant to put "stave" as opposed to "starve" in the last paragraph.
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honestgamer posted April 22, 2012:

This really is a great review, EmP, one of your most readable and informative to date. So I'll point out this sentence, which is a bit of a wreck: "As such, you can find yourself spending a lot of the game eating dirt, or being fling off cliffs, so itís to the gameís credit that, even in the higher rated races, so do a lot of the other quad racers." If you fix that and the comma splice that kicks off the last paragraph, that'll take care of any overwhelming grammatical concerns I had. If I ever review this game (I have the PS3 version, but haven't yet cracked open the seal), I'm sure I'll take a different approach... but I liked yours here, too. Great stuff!
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Masters posted April 23, 2012:

Nice work Gary, good to see you post something other than pretty screenshots for my reviews.

Concerto of unbridled chaos, nice.

BTW, I just went in and fixed the 3 or 4 typos I found. I think one was already mentioned in the topic. But yeah.
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EmP posted April 26, 2012:

Thanks you, gang, for the fixes and the kind words. I kinda want to stick another paragrapgh in there somewhere about a few things I glossed over, so will have another good look at the whole thing once I get some time to myself.

And special thanks to Marc, who has proved helpful to me for the first time in all the years I have known him.

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