By Jeff Jensen
October 30, 2008 at 04:00 AM EDT

A successful racing game is fun even when you lose. A great racing game is fun even when you lose badly. By that yardstick, Pure, an ultrarealistic ATV simulation suitable for all ages, is waaay rad. Even before getting to custom-build their own souped-up go-kart, choose their alt-culture cool avatar (I’m kinda crushing on Suzi Andrews, a blond cutie struggling to emerge from the shadow of whiz-kid bro Todd), or compete in the game’s epic world tour, players must acquire a level of skill (simple navigation, basic tricks, ”zoom” speed control) daunting enough to tax the competency of your typical videogame savant, let alone their Pole Position-nostalgic parents. Last-place finishes will be? routine at first, but you only have to collect points, not trophies, to clear ? levels. Three additional factors keep you invested. First, crashing is wicked fun. The whiplash effect looks so bone-jarringly painful, the sick and twisted part of you will want your racer to suffer through it repeatedly. Second, the videogame physics feel dead-on amazing, so much so that if I actually understood the art and science of videogame physics, I’d risk boring you to explain why. And third, the scenery sure is purdy. The rendering of courses in idyllic rural locales like Lake Garda, Italy, or desert hellholes like Glamis, Calif., is so thoroughly detailed and imagined, you’ll want to rent a room and do some sightseeing. That you can’t is perhaps Pure‘s only flaw. A