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

RACE 07: Official WTCC Game

RACE 07: Official WTCC Game

Spring 2008 Software
Ages: 8 & Up
Producer: Viva Media
Price: $29.99
Platform: Windows XP Home Pro
What's great about this racing simulation game is also what's not so great about it. Sleek, classy and amazing looking, this F-1 style racing game has so much going for it in terms of accuracy and realism. The opening clip is outrageously cool, the music is a big-cinema sports-event sound, the racing visuals from behind the wheel (and other viewpoints) are startling.

We began the game by choosing from a list of 11 events the "Curitiba 07" race in Brazil-not that we knew one from another but you can preview the shape of each racetrack before choosing. Next we went with a BMW Formula as our vehicle class (from a list of six, including F3000, Radical, Mini and WTCC 87). We chose U.S. driver Bruce Saltzman from a long list of international stars we never heard of. And, after tinkering with the options, clicking the novice setting rather than semi-pro, pro or custom settings, and limiting our opponents to 80 percent skill levels, we took a big gulp and started the race.

Before we got to the first curve, we were wowed by the animation and graphics from behind the wheel. The game gives an incredible feel for what it must be like to race one of these cars, right down to how the racecar handles-and what happens if you don't handle it so well.

But at the first curve, our car left the track (honestly, trying to drive a racecar with the four little arrow buttons isn't so easy). So we restarted the race and tried again, this time making it around the first curve but T-boning another car that had swerved by the second curve. Tried again and got a little better-but also recognized that we'd get good at this game only after hours and hours of practicing.

And, frankly, we don't have that many hours to play a racing sim. So the problem is that the game is really for hardcore racing-sim fans, not the casual or novice player who won't have a clue what much of this game's about-much less how to keep the cars on the racetrack.

But let's take a positive spin: While racing sims aren't necessarily educational, not in the usual sense, you certainly could learn a lot about car racing from this one if you had the time and inclination.

Don Oldenburg   ©2008 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.

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Viva Media
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