The world of quad bike racing is an interesting new direction for Disney Interactive Studios, a publisher better known for producing games to accompany Disney movies. However, Pure's developer, Black Rock Studio - formerly Climax Racing - has a wealth of experience in this area, having previously developed the ATV Offroad Fury series and, as a result, Pure is a gorgeous arcade racing game that manages to streamline the genre and up the excitement levels at the same time.
Visually, Pure is exceptional; the graphics possess a stylised realism that is almost cartoon-like, while still boasting an incredible amount of detail. The environments are beautiful, and the game makes the most of its huge draw distance by giving the player plenty of air time to enjoy the jaw-dropping landscapes.
In motion, things look great as well thanks to excellent animation and flashes of graphical flair, such as t-shirts rippling in the wind, motion blur when using boost and some of the best mud ever seen in a game - it leaps up from the ground in thick blobs, gradually covering your quad bike and your character's legs as the race goes on.
In terms of gameplay, Pure represents a back to basics approach for Black Rock Studio, refreshing the off-road racing genre by stripping away the superfluous. Rather than introduce a slew of different vehicles, the developer has focused its energies on the quad bike; a move that has paid dividends, with the ATV builder warranting special mention.
Instead of choosing from a predetermined stable of quad bikes, the player has to build their own from scratch, piece by piece. Each individual component has its own strength, be it top speed, acceleration, handling, boost or tricks, and they can be balanced with each other to create truly personal ATVs according to your riding style, the event type or the kind of terrain. Better components can be unlocked by winning events and you can even choose the colour of each part, so that your creations look and ride exactly how you want them to. If you just want to race, there's a Quick Build option that automatically creates a quad bike for you.
World Tour, the main single player mode, consists of ten events of increasing difficulty, each requiring the player to earn a set number of points across three disciplines to advance. Races are exactly what they sound like - you take on 15 other riders across long courses littered with huge jumps and the first across the finish line wins. Sprints are shorter races with fewer jumps and Freestyle events are all about tricks, as each rider has a limited amount of fuel and must score as many points as possible before it runs out.
Each discipline requires its own tactical approach, and tying the three together is one of Pure's moments of brilliance - the boost/trick meter. Pulling off tricks partially fills the boost meter; filling it further offers access to more spectacular tricks, which are worth more points and fill the boost further still. However, you can use it at any time for a burst of speed, while crashing empties it. The result of this simple system is a balancing act between short term speed gain and long term reward that works across all events and promotes a healthy fear of crashing. It adds depth and can be the deciding factor in multiplayer races, where vehicles are finely balanced.
The game has 36 tracks, all set in real locations, such as Lake Garda in Italy, Kosa Phi Island in Thailand and New Zealand's Tonga Crater, and they are as beautiful as they are varied. Each can be played in online multiplayer against up to 15 others, as can any of the same events as in World Tour mode. There is also a Freeride mode, which allows you to cruise around with friends, attempting to break each other's records.
Pure is a brilliant arcade racing game that combines superb graphics, simple yet rewarding gameplay and innovation. Being able to build your own ATV is a great feature, and just one of dozens that add up to a well-polished title, despite it being full of mud.