Need for Speed: Nitro

 
Average street racer makes players flout driving laws.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

There's a pretty strong anti-authority message in this game. It is clearly stated, both by the narrator and by a disclaimer before the game starts, that street racing is illegal. But in the game, the police are treated as bad guys -- or at the very least wet blankets who want to spoil everybody's street racing fun. If the police try to pull you over, you either outrun them, run them off the road, or sic them on one of your opponents. Also, racing well down a stretch of road can magically color it with what is referred to in the game as graffiti. No one is ever seen spraying the graffiti. One type of competition rates drivers by how fast they can blow through police speed traps. Note, too, that since drivers are never shown injured after crashes that kids could get the impression that high speed car accidents aren't necessarily all that serious.

Positive role models

The racers in this game flout authority, perform illegal acts, show no concern for destruction of property, and drive recklessly.

Ease of play

There are multiple control schemes players can choose for this game -- and they are not all created equal. The horizontal remote "wheel style" works very smoothly. The one-handed steering style proves incredibly difficult to use.

Violence

Points are awarded for crashing into destructible objects, such as street signs and cacti. Police cars slam into racers in an attempt to slow them down; racers can, in turn, bang into police cars and sometimes cause them to crash. No one is seen getting hurt and everyone appears to keep driving even after a crash.

Sex

If children pay attention to the lyrics in the soundtrack songs they might catch some suggestive material.

Language

One song in the soundtrack uses the word "skank."

Consumerism

All the playable cars in the game are real makes and models from real-world car companies. Expect to see lots of logos: Toyota, Ford, Chevy, Nissan, etc.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this colorful, fast-paced racing game centers around illegal street racing. Racers willfully break the law, evade -- and sometimes fight back against -- police who try to stop them, destroy property, and run roadblocks. The developers include disclaimers before the game starts, which explain the dangers and illegality of street racing. They also remind players to wear safety belts in real life. Still, the police are treated as bad guys -- or at the very least wet blankets who want to spoil everybody's street racing fun. None of the drivers are ever hurt during the game, but that might give younger players the erroneous impression that high speed crashes aren't necessarily a serious thing.

What's it about?

In NEED FOR SPEED: NITRO drivers compete in an illegal street racing circuit in an attempt to earn enough money to get out of the dangerous lives they're stuck in. Races take place all around the world, in exotic locales like Rio and Egypt. Police cars try to shut down the competitions and often meet resistance from the drivers. As wins are racked up, players can buy newer, faster cars and upgrade the ones they have.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Need for Speed: Nitro is a decent racing game, and certainly fun in an adrenaline-rush kind of way, but doesn't bring that much new to the racing genre. If you've played lots of racing games before, you'll find many of the standard elements here: Earn points and power for drifting around tight corners; use a nitro boost for quick bursts of speed; start with a Volkswagen van and earn money to buy better cars as you go along. Being able to paint and customize the looks of your cars is one very nice bonus feature. None of this means NFS: Nitro is a bad game at all, though, and it makes a very nice introduction to the genre for gamers who are new to racing sims.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the importance of abiding by traffic laws, how defensive driving keeps people safe in real life, and the need for seat belts.

  • Parents can also ask their children how they feel playing a criminal in a video game. Do they have fun doing things in a game that they know they never could or should do in real life? Is there a catharsis in it? Or does it teach kids the wrong lessons?

  • Parents who have teens learning to drive may want to consider a study that suggests playing some racing games can lead to taking more driving risks in real life and share it with their children.

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo Wii
Price:$49.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Electronic Arts
Release date:November 3, 2009
Genre:Racing
Topics:Sports and martial arts
ESRB rating:E10+ for Mild Lyrics, Mild Violence (Nintendo Wii)

This review of Need for Speed: Nitro was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byvanessapawprints12 December 18, 2009
age 9+
 
well it's great if you know your kids or family are mature
Adult Written byGamereveiwer233 November 17, 2009
age 10+
 
You think that illegal street racing and vandalism is alright for kids then you are mistaken Need for speed nitro really uses both those and the characters are stuck up and BRAG ALOT do not buy this game for kids under 10 or at least talk to your kid before starting to play Need For Speed Nitro i did with my kid and he understood it
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Teen, 13 years old Written bySemperFidelis November 9, 2013
age 8+
 

Good racing game

Make sure your child knows that street racing is wrong (they probably do know). If you let your kid play Mario Kart then this should be fine. What I just didn't like was how unrealistic the cars looked.

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