Black Rock Studio has set out to unearth its ATV routes by making a game being published by Disney Interactive Studios: Pure. PS2 vets should remember UK-based Black Rock Studio for making ATV Off-Road Fury, and the inevitable sequels. At a recent event I had a chance to check out the multiplayer portion of Pure. Thoughts incoming!
The developers have been adamant from the start that Pure needed to be able to handle 16-players online, since it’s a game built off chaos and up-and-down moments. Its fast-paced action is reminiscent of Burnout, in part due to the liberties that are taken with the sport, but also due to the insignificant penalties for crashing. Your racer may not be decapitated like a Burnout car, but the only thing you lose otherwise is turbo and a second or two of race time.
Turbo in the game is acquired by doing moves off of the various jumps and ramps in the off-road environments. At first you only have access to one set of moves (all moves are done via the face buttons and a direction on the analog stick). However, as you land more moves you get access to fancier ones. There is a balancing act that goes on here though, since you can use up some of the built-up trick meter for turbo. So, if you’re behind in a race, you need to use turbo to catch up, but you also get more turbo by having access to the fancier moves -- hence the balancing nature of the mechanic. If you max out your trick meter you get access to a special move (done via the LB and RB). These are completely insane moves that are impressive to witness and hard to pull off. The moves take a long time to complete, so it’s important to use the special moves only on huge jumps. If you land the special move successfully you keep your fully-maxed out trick/turbo meter and obviously that will benefit you in the long run.
Pure will feature 16 player online multiplayer racing.
The locales in the game are reminiscent of Just Cause and Burnout Paradise to me. There’s a slight blur effect at work as you race through these vast environments similar to Burnout, and the environments themselves seem a lot like more visually resplendent Just Cause environs. You’ll be traveling on islands, amid forests, deserts, and lots of mud. The graphics and tracks are so impressive that I just wanted to drive around and check them out, but that’s kind of a drawback. Being a racing game, Pure has to institute invisible wall-type aspects and so forth that really limit how much of the tracks you can explore. The game tries to do something similar to Motorstorm, where there are branching paths on the track, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference between the paths. It seems like the environments have the potential to be so much more, but the team must have been going for a more traditional racing approach, based more on structure than freedom.
There are a few different game modes to choose from online: Freestyle, Freeride, Sprint, and Race. Race is self-explanatory. The Freestyle mode is based around power-ups and tricks. As you race your gas gets depleted and you must retain fuel by doing tricks, and replenish it by acquiring gas power-ups. Whoever can outlast the pack wins the race. Freeride is based around just going around the track for a set amount of time. During the timed event the competitors battle for the highest-scoring combo, fastest lap, highest score, and biggest height on a jump. Sprint mode shrinks the length of the track and adds more laps to the mayhem. Basically this mode is just about pure racing, so don’t worry about doing anything but the minor tricks.
Each mode felt like it belonged in the game, and overall the chaos in the game was enjoyable. Also, watching some of the developers play the game showed me that there is another level of depth that I couldn’t quite get a handle on just yet. Some of the moves the developers pulled off were insane, and in general they put my newbie skills to shame. The developers could not only do better combos on the sticks, but they also were timing the jumps better. In this game there’s not a jump button, but rather an analog stick works as the jump button. As you approach a jump you pull the analog stick back, then flick it forward right as you’re about to fly off the jump -- giving your racer extra height. It’s a nice addition, and it keeps you involved in the race on another level that wouldn’t be there if there was simply a button press.
Overall, the 16-player chaos was an enjoyable and carefree experience. I do wonder how the lag will be once we all aren’t playing in the same room, but possible connection issues aside, the Black Rock folks seem to be creating a solid over-the-top racing game -- at least from a multiplayer viewpoint.
Pure will be releasing on Sept. 16, and there is also a demo set to release sometime before the game launches.