I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I hate driving games, but I love racing games. There’s a subtle yet important difference, and the distinction is enough to make me thoroughly enjoy a Burnout, or even something more real-life like PGR or GRID, while rendering Gran Turismo as gaming kryptonite. The former are all A Few Good Men; the latter is sitting in on a trial for shoplifting.
Off-road racers, though, are a slightly more difficult beast. Even if it contains such vile language as ‘gear ratio’ and tries to make me consider the state of my virtual vehicle’s suspension, thrashing around in the mud is undeniably fun – we’ve all known this since the first time it rained in our back gardens – and the fact that there are very few serious off-road racers gives it a hit ratio with me that’s far above straight racing games. How much fun could a game where your rider breaks his back on a ten-foot fall really be, anyway? If I’m racing along a mountain, I bloody well want to be jumping off it.
Having played last year’s underrated Sega Rally as much as I care to, though, and with two potentially great off-roaders due imminently – both, conveniently, with demos out – I’m a bit torn between Pure and MotorStorm: Pacific Rift as this year’s counterweight to all the blood-and-guts shooters and post-apocalyptic wastelands that I’ll obviously be rooting around in. I know I only recently complained about how many games were coming out, but one can only play as so many bald space marines.
MotorStorm fixes the issues of its predecessor – it has more than one colour and several tracks, in other words – while Pure is entirely new, but was developed by the team responsible for the MotoGP games, which I enjoyed. (I’m aware that MotoGP doesn’t exactly fit my anti-realism preference, but no one can fail to have fun on that first corner of Mugello in a multiplayer game… if you know what I mean.)
Anyway, I was quite excited to receive a key for an early demo of MotorStorm, and I felt much the same as I did about the first one: it’s extremely pretty and great fun to play, but I feel like I’ve seen most of what I’d get from it with the demo. Like Fight Night Round 3 back when the 360 came out, I kept the MotorStorm demo around just because it was immediately impressive and a good quick blast to show people, but I couldn’t see it being worth the cash. MotorStorm 2 looks to have more content than the lightweight first game and I’d be keen to play the lava levels and such, but it’s something that I’ll pick up when it goes Platinum.
Pure is slightly harder to characterise, coming, as it does, with some of the dreaded vehicle tweaking but also taking an approach more like SSX: massive mountains and outlandish stunts. Do stunts and you earn boost to go faster, or make a beeline for the finish line and hope that your driving ability will carry you. What sense does this make? Absolutely none, but at least it’s more understandable than imploring you to murder the public in the mangled wreckage of their own cars for boost like Burnout does.
Lower expectations because this isn’t a AAA first-party title? Similar limitations to MotorStorm? Possibly, and I doubt that Pure will get the same post-release support that the first of that series did – although, to be fair, charging for it all when there was so little in the £50 game to begin with did take the piss – but I just had more fun with the Pure demo than I did MotorStorm 2’s. I’m not the only one either, from the looks of it.
Plus, you know, when I’m already spending silly amounts on games for the next few months, I’m going for the £30 option, thanks.