Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Spring 2009 Video Games
Ages: 13 - 24 yrs.
Price: $59.99
Gaming System: Xbox 360
Because I have a parental adversity to real-life ATVs due to their well-known high risk for serious injury, I load any all-terrain-vehicle videogames with trepidation. Of course, the greatest injury kids are likely to sustain playing an ATV videogame is to the wrist from repeatedly pressing controller buttons. But there's that buried fear they'll love the on-screen action so much at one day they'll want to try it for real.

But Pure's such a gravity-defying ATV simulation that even kids who are enamored by its big beautiful scenes, outrageously fun mid-air stunts and engaging racing competition will understand this isn't real. Even kids who go breathless, as I did, the first few times their ATV driver goes airborne doing handlebar hops over a gigantic gorgeous gulch and then comes up short on the other cliff side, will know that when the screen momentarily grays out that their driver didn't survive. But in videogames, unlike real life, that grey out becomes brilliant color again and the driver pops up on the other side of the gulch and races on!

Perhaps to its credit, Pure doesn't even attempt a story line. Sure, you pick your driver from a field of drivers available. But green-flag-to-finish-line stunt racing's the thing in this game. Who needs a half-baked storyline when you've got awesome graphics, excellent animation and head-turning surround sound?

Whether the mode is three-lap speed racing, sprint or stunt racing, going against up to 15 opponents can be a roaring blast when set in the Italian countryside mountains, or a slippery American mud pits or overgrown jungles in who knows where? The richness and detail here is eye-boggling.

Another truly impressive feature of this game, which adds unexpected educational value, is that players have to build their ATV racers starting from the most basic steel frame. This is not a glossed-over, pick-colors, choose-from-two-engines exercise many racer games add just to beef up content.Pure's gear-head variety of ATV parts available (said to be around 65,000 but who's counting?) is surprisingly instructive, illustrating how in reality an ATV is actually built from scratch.

It took us 15-20 minutes to customize just one ATV (you're allowed more than one). And it's not just shopping ATV parts by whim and whimsy. Almost every part is rated for how it affects the ATV's speed versus stunt ability. From grips to shocks, from engines to fenders, players have to decide and balance choices to create an ATV for the style of racing they want to do. And then the race itself determines whether they chose parts wisely.

Bottom line on Disney's big excursion into off-road racing videogames is that this is one smart and fun game.

Don Oldenburg   ©2009 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

Look for this product at:
Major, Specialty & Online Retailers
Disney Interactive Studios

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