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Pure - updated impressions

Rarely have we seen a game that made us want to throw up in a good way. Watching director Jason Avent preload up a gravel-laden peak and launch off amidst gondolas and hot air balloons in the cloudy New Mexico sky was all at once mesmerizing and lunch rejecting. The soundtrack mutes, the trash-talking rider Supermans his body while barely grasping the seat. Quickly, he plummets down to earth. Jason’s trajectory is off and the rider crotches himself on the seat before painfully smashing into a boulder. Such is the life in Pure, a more-than-basic ATV racer with shades of SSX. If ournew screensare any indication, Pure will speed away from the pack of other drab racers.

We already got a good look at Pure’s racing dynamicsearlier, but today we were able to get a clearer sense of how the trick system worked. On your HUD, the system is represented by the Y, B and A buttons for high, middle and low level tricks respectively. Tricks and boost are essential to winning races - hence our SSX comparison - and strategizing when to use each will dictate your chance of victory.

You build up boost by performing low level tricks - or the A button tricks. Successfully pulling off one of these can start to build up your mid-level boost, to perform B button tricks and so on. What you want to be able to do is build up your meter to execute Y button tricks, which net you not only a crap ton of points, but also grant you some big air. This will enable you to vault ridiculously high over the competition - even clearing large segments of the track - and can even propel you to shortcuts not available with “normal” driving.

And you’ll be soaring over some incredibly detailed locales at that. We took in the breathtaking sight of snowcapped mountains in Italy and tumble down a track surrounded by crumbled castle walls and statues. You’ll weave in and out of a decrepit logging town on a forest-peppered Wyoming track. Besides the incredible vertigo-inducing draw distance - up to 30 miles! - each location has a lived-in feel not usually found in other hum-drum racers.

One last thing to mention is the Garage, enabling you to build your own Frankenstein ride from parts unlocked during the single-player World Tour mode. Almost every part is completely customizable from the frame, to the engine and even shocks. As you mix and match, you can see the stats - speed, acceleration, handling, boost and tricks - change in real time. With so much customization at your disposal, it’s said that 60,000 bikes are possible to build, decreasing the chance you’ll see a clone of your bike online.

We were assured that every single-player mode would also be available online, including Freestyle. While not discussed at length, Freestyle mode would go beyond a typical high score trickfest. With its release in September, Pure has a few months to make some tweaks to the AI and the already handsome graphics. We should go hands-on with Pure in the coming months, so check back soon and make sure to bring a cup (for your nuts).

May 2, 2008