Over the next ten weeks I’ll be sharing my top ten games of all time.

A near impossible task for any gamer, I set myself this challenge a few years ago, and I am only just now comfortable with how it reads, so let’s get into it before I lose my nerve.

My number ten spot goes to:

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(2008)

Developer: Black Rock Studios

Publisher: Disney Interactive

Director: Jason Avent

Soundtrack: Various artists

Genre: Racing

Players: 1

Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC

I played it on: Xbox 360 & PS3

. . .

I love me a good racing game, from the pick-up-and-play cartoon mayhem of the Mario Kart games, to the realistic simulation experience found in the Gran Tourismo series.

In between those two ends of the genre’s spectrum is where you’ll find PURE, an all-terrain vehicle racer that sees you performing the most outrageous stunts imaginable in realistic environments inspired by real world locations.

ATV racing games were a dime a dozen in the PS3/360 era, and I played (and enjoyed) plenty of them- but I always come back to PURE.

No matter how many times you play this game, it’s as thoroughly entertaining as it was the first time, and that’s why I love it so much.

And there’s plenty to love.

There’s the fantastic graphics, intuitive controls, slick presentation, great sound design, and satisfying gameplay.

While those are all wonderful things, it’s what PURE (and indeed, any great game) does to make you go “wow” that truly makes it special.

The racing action is some of the best of the generation

It’s not just that the developers came up with some clever design ideas, it’s that they’ve implemented them so successfully they almost go unnoticed; absorbed into the awesome.

For example, when you’re going over a big jump the camera seamlessly yet obviously shifts from the normal racing view to almost a fish-eye lens. This lets you take in the gorgeous scenery, and get a real sense of how high you are in the landscape.

But this camera trick isn’t just for show. See, where your rider is on the screen when the camera shift happens allows you to accurately determine how many tricks to string together and still land safely. It’s the games way of telling you “this is how long you’ve got before you hit the ground”.

Clever.

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The environments in this game truly are breathtaking, and it was a smart choice by the developer to use tracks inspired by real world locations, such as Thailand and the Texas oil fields.

While the stunt combos seen in PURE would be impossible to pull off in real life, they only ever seem awesome, never slapstick.

This is down to the fact that the vehicles and rider models look terrific, with one incredibly complex stunt animation flowing seamlessly into the next.

Getting that contrast between photorealistic graphics and out of this world action to seem so natural is a real credit to the development team.

It helps that the sound of the ATV engines are nuanced enough to be believable, and environmental sounds like splashing of tyres in puddles are treated as though they’re important.

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Also well thought out are the chimes and dings that alert you to something in the race, most notably the trick combo. These sound effects add to the sense of accomplishment, reminding you you’ve done well, without being condescending or intrusive.

The game’s soundtrack consist of a pretty wide range of music styles.

Like most modern racing games there’s high BPM electronica, rock, and hip-hop from established and not so established artists.

When I’m playing racing games, I turn the music off after I’ve heard each track once or twice. I’m sure PURE has some killer music, and it’s my fault if I’m missing out.

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Another impressive thing about this game is the menu system.

From the create a vehicle function to the race selection screens, everything is well laid out.

Where to go and what to press is obvious, just like it should be. There’s the obligatory swoosh sound at each button press, and some slick transitions, proving substance and style can co-exist in a racing game menu.

In fact, style and substance co-exist in every facet of this game’s production.

Few games can provide the kind of polished, unique, and utterly enjoyable experience you’ll get with PURE, and that’s why it’s in my top ten games of all time.

I wrote more about PURE as part of my Great Games Of Past Generations series. You can read it here.

You can follow me on twitter: @rustyshell and Miiverse: zinger_AU

Let me know what you think about PURE in the comments!

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