A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Gravel is an arcade-style off-road racing game that's safe for all ages. Racers compete across a variety of tracks to prove they're the best off-road racer. While there are car crashes, obviously, there's no blood or gore, nor doe anyone curse in frustration. There's also no inappropriate content to be found on or off the track.
What's it about?
Like most racing games, GRAVEL doesn't have a story. Instead, it has a career mode in which you have to win a succession of races, online modes in which you compete against other people, and one-off races against the computer. In all of these races, though, you're still driving a truck, 4x4, or other off-road vehicle on dirt tracks, snowy passes, sandy beaches and deserts, muddy courses inside arenas, and paved race courses. Plus, if you mess up while playing against the computer, you can rewind time and do that part of a race over.
Is it any good?
While it's not as good as the Forza games, to which it is quite similar, this is still a fun and engaging arcade-style off-road racing game. In Gravel, you get to drive 4x4s, trucks, and other sturdy vehicles on dirt trails, sandy beaches and deserts, snow-covered roads, and even on muddy tracks built inside football stadiums. And like the Forza games, this lets you adjust such aspects of the steering and handling as the braking and grip to customize how you'd like these vehicles to handle. It also has a good mix of event types, including single- and multi-lap races, checkpoint events, and ones where the driver who reaches a checkpoint last is sent home.
But while this has solid controls and a lot of fun events to test them on, as well as similar mechanics to the Forza games, it's not as good as Forza Motorsport 7 or Forza Horizon 3. It has fewer tracks, a much shorter career path, and no options to make this feel like a more realistic racing game if that's your preference. It also sometimes feels like your brake pads need to be replaced, though that's usually when the tracks are slick and muddy. Still, these problems aren't that, well, problematic. The career mode, for instance, is more than long enough to make this worth your 50 bucks, and the slightly less effective brakes are easy to get used to after a race or two. Which is why Gravel can sufficiently satisfy your need for speed.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about driving safely. Given how badly you can crash in Gravel, what does it show you about the importance of obeying the speed limit?
Families can also talk about arrogance. The drivers you face off against act like arrogant jerks ... only to be beaten by you. What does this tell you about being arrogant, and about being a good sport?
Talk about respecting the environment. In this game, you race on pristine beaches and other places, but do you think such beaches would be pristine anymore if people raced on them?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.