Is Pure the new SSX?

After playing the demo, I picked up Pure for the Xbox 360. Pure as an ATV racing game with a strong emphasis on tricks. People who like racing games strictly for racing probably won’t enjoy pure, but if you want to race AND pull lots of crazy tricks this game might be the game for you. When I saw Pure was published by Disney I nearly didn’t even try the demo, thinking it must be some silly kids game – but I was wrong about this.

My primary motivation for getting Pure was that it ‘feels’ a bit like playing SSX. If you aren’t familiar with the SSX series, it is a fast-paced snowboard racing and tricks game (such as with this video). SSX 3 and SSX On Tour also support “free riding,” which is snowboarding with tricks but not racing (such as with this video). In SSX 3 and SSX On Tour you can pick the part of the mountain and just ride down, but on the way you will see different events (races, freestyle events, etc.) that you can participate in. The longest race in SSX On Tour goes from the top of the mountain all the way down to the bottom and can easily take 15 minutes. SSX is one of my favorite game series, but sadly they haven’t released (or even mentioned) a game since SSX On Tour in 2005. I keep hoping EA will remedy this and release an SSX game on the Xbox 360.

Pure will satisfies some of my SSX urges, but it falls a bit short on a few specifics. While I haven’t played all of the tracks yet, the tracks I have played so far lack the verticality that I loved in SSX. There are some drops in SSX that feel like hundreds of feet – this allows for some massive tricks. While hundreds of feet may be an exaggeration, so far Pure doesn’t yet offer the same speed or tricking opportunities. This very well may change as I get further into Pure. I hope so!

The second and slightly larger problem is that the Pure “tracks” are more defined than the SSX tracks. SSX in general feels more “open”, if you can see a shortcut down the side of a hill, you can take it. In Pure if you see a shortcut and try to take it, often it will think you went off the track and will penalize you  by “resetting” you back onto the track. This can move you from a high ranking position (say, first place) and drop you to way down in the ranks. I’ve gone from first or second to 15th or 16th just because of mistakes such as this — what a drag. Also track related, they like to put boulders and such at the borders of the track. If you turn slightly late and hit a boulder, it doesn’t see this as a problem and “reset” you back onto the track, it makes you reverse and get back onto the track, which may kill your position in the race. This is understandable in a “normal” racing game, but in the high speed tricks game that Pure is, it should detect the inability to proceed forward and “reset” you back onto the track, like SSX does. Finally, I loved the ability in SSX to press the “back” button on the controller and have it “reset” me if I veered way off the course but the game hadn’t detected it yet. This feature just doesn’t exist in Pure.

It will be interesting to see how Pure has more vertical drops in later games. The major difference between racing in Pure and SSX is many races in SSX are best of three races instead of having “laps”. In Pure, the races really are laps and a race has 3 or more laps, so if you have an exceptionally bad lap you might as well just restart the race. Because the lap must end where it started, any long vertical drops require that much vertical climb. I imagine this will hinder Pure from having the super-long vertical drops that SSX has.

One other feature I miss from SSX (at least I haven’t encountered it in Pure, yet) is that many of the SSX races have multiple paths. In Pure I have seen some slight path variations but they all tend to quickly merge back together. This may be different in later levels.

So, I’ve pointed out my “problems” with Pure, but what are its strengths? The ATVs are incredibly customizable, which will be fun for people who like to endlessly tweak their vehicles. As you progress through the game you get lots of new parts and upgrades. This will likely make going back to earlier races more fun. All of the SSX games had similar customizability with the different boards, but Pure tons of options. Secondly, the graphics are incredibly nice. The control of the game, for this kind of game, is spot on. The racing is very arcade-y — you don’t have to spend all of your time carefully managing gas and brake – gas and less gas (and steering and tricks) is generally all you have to worry about.

The sound on pure is generally good. It seems to have quite a few good music tracks, but on the long races the music just seems to disappear, which is odd. It shoudl either look or start a new song. It seems the music in Pure is really a secondary thing. SSX had such a focus on great music that Pure feels lacking in the music department. One other complaint with Pure’s sound is that Pure seems to have a very limited amount of “taunts” that come from the other racers. The SSX racers (especially in SSX Tricky) were known characters – when Zoe got mad at you, Zoe would harass you as you passed her or she passed you. While SSX didn’t have a huge number of phrases from the other characters, Pure seems to have very few taunts and the other racers in Pure are all anonymous. You tend to hear the same 3 or 4 things over and over; I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard “do you know who I am”. I understand Disney wanted to make this game kid friendly, but the taunts just add nothing to the game after the first 20 times you’ve heard them,.

So, do I like Pure? In general, yes. Pure is a fun game and I want to get farther into it, but Pure doesn’t even come close to filling the SSX void in my soul. I’ll play more Pure, but I’ll  keep hoping for another SSX game. Some may say it isn’t fair to so directly compare Pure and SSX, but I think they released a game in what is essentially the same genere so the comparison is appropriate.

One thought on “Is Pure the new SSX?”

  1. Cmon now, you set a high bar with SSX. Pure is good stuff, and it does have that SSX feel. You have to wonder what EA is thinking, where is this gen’s SSX?

Leave a Reply