Can I race as Britney Spears?
Game companies seem to be aiming their sights on the extreme sports crowd these days with a slew of new titles based on the X-Games. With the past success of games like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and current success of THPS 2 and Dave Mirra BMX, everyone is jumping on the X-Games bandwagon. Now we have a new entry into the genre. Can you guess who it is?
The terms "Extreme sports" and "X-Games" were partially coined by your friendly neighborhood pop-culture influence known as MTV, so it's no surprise to see their name and logo slapped across the front of THQ's latest sports title, Pure Ride. In fact, their logo isn't the only one to be grossly exploited in this title. This game has so much corporate sponsorship, it should be passed out with cans of Mountain Dew.
Seriously, there are enough ads in this game to give the Super Bowl a run for its money. Look, we already want our MTV - next time, ease up on the billboard blitz.
All complaints about advertising aside, corporate sponsorship means that THQ had plenty of money to put together a decent game. Fortunately for us all, they did.
Pure Ride is snowboarding to the extreme. Players can rip, shred and grind their way through tons of courses across the globe. The game includes six modes with several variations each, plus a level editor. With this many options, you'll be able to play Pure Ride for days without ever facing the same challenge twice.
Tour Challenge mode consists of twelve events in a winner-takes-all trial. Stunt mode pits you against eighteen tough challenges that will push your shredding skills to the max. Specialist mode lets you face specific challenges such as the Big Air, Half Pipe, or Slope Style; each consisting of twelve courses. If you're looking to hone your skills on the mountain, this is the best place to do it.
Stressed out by the rigors of competition? Don't sweat it. You'll find the perfect place to chill with the Free Ride and Express Pass modes. These two options have no scores and no time limits, making it the perfect place to shred to your heart's delight.
The two-player game has two different options. "Time" is simply a race to the bottom of the course and "Trick" is a competition for points. On the plus side, the split screen style of play has little effect on the speed of the game. But the course has become narrower, making it harder to stay on the designated path. How about trying something new or different, perhaps a H-O-R-S-E style event ala Tony Hawk?
The game comes packaged with a Level Editor. It's an extremely basic program with only a few jumps, cars, rails and trees in a simple environment, so don't expect to get too fancy with your course designs. The limited amount of resources definitely makes this editor feel more like an add-on and the chances are awfully good that you won't be spending much time here.
Graphically, Pure Ride shines like the North Star. The use of shadows is really well done, as they seem to shift as you swoop across the half pipe levels. The night levels are especially impressive and radiate with a blissful nighttime energy. The color palettes and shadows also work really well in this stage. Furthermore, THQ has snow texture dialed in with carve marks and moguls looking as real as can be.
The only problem here is that the background elements pixelate severely when you get too close. On the other hand, getting too close to the background elements means that you aren't doing a very good job of staying on course, so stay on the beaten path and everything will look just fine.
The control in Pure Ride takes a little getting used to. It seems like once you start to spin, there's no stopping and sometimes landing is even more challenging than pulling off the hardest of stunts. Have no fear, though, because a few trips down the hill is all you need to cure yourself of this control sickness.
The MTV sponsorship means that Pure Ride must have a rockin' soundtrack. From Incubus to American Hi-Fi, the heavy, modern music fits the game. Choosing your tunes before each run also helps to keep repetition to a minimum. Eardrums everywhere rejoice!
Overall, Pure Ride is pure and simple fun. The different modes and music keep the game fresh and the graphics are solid enough to keep you interested. Too bad the snowboard controller isn't out yet, or this would be one hell of a trip.