The Grand Tour Game Preview – Join the Show
I missed the original announcement of The Grand Tour Game. When I was chatting with somebody about my later appointments at Gamescom and they said "Oh, The Grand Tour Game?" when having a look at my schedule, I said, "Wait, people were being serious about that?" I genuinely thought the whole thing was an elaborate joke. Well, it isn't. Unlike New World, which looks outstanding, The Grand Tour Game has left me with mixed feelings.
As strange as the idea sounds at first, it makes sense. The game follows the antics of Messrs Clarkson, Hammond and May as they do whatever the insane trio are want to do. Will they test how flammable a school bus is? You get to too. Drive around in a supercar? It's all yours. That is the premise of the game, you get to play the show. As such, the game will be released alongside Season three and effectively you're buying a season pass. An episode of the show is released, that or the next day you'll be able to do exactly what they've done.
Each section of the game is preceded by a clip from the show that sets up the current event. The gameplay I got to try was a segment from the very first episode of the series. You'll watch the clip of Clarkson leaving the BBC, landing in L.A. and then driving out to the mobile studio. For brevity, these clips have been shortened to keep the essential parts in. You can also skip and head right into the driving, tearing up the streets or tracks. That's when you get to the meat of the game.
As you take part in the driving segment, you'll hear voice clips from the trio taken either straight from the show or recorded just for the game. This is ever more present in the split-screen multiplayer of the game, where whatever car you're driving will have little titbits of information about the car, or part of the presenter's humour. I was happily taking the part of Hammond, listening to him telling me how quickly the car goes from 0 to 60 before later telling me 'a bit of poo has come out'.
Indeed, one of the three stages I was able to play during the single player segment of the game was all about keeping on the track. In the top right corner of the screen was a poo emoji and every time I messed up, Hammond was happy to tell me something about more poo. I got a bronze star by having four out of a maximum seven poos before I was told how terrible I am at driving. Granted, I managed to get a gold star in the first race and a silver in the second. Not a totally terrible result.
It should be noted that the physics and damage mechanics of the cars haven't been totally implemented yet. I mention this because the driving was fairly mediocre at best. I was able to clearly win the split-screen multiplayer through the constant collection and use of power-ups, shown on the track as balloons. The two power-ups shown in this race were 'More Horsepowers' which, naturally, increased your speed and 'Texting While Driving' which, when used, covered the screen of any nearby competition with a distracting text.
It was actually pretty enjoyable, despite the fairly mundane nature of the racing. I genuinely couldn't tell you the difference between one car or the other. Also, listening to a quick note about the car's statistics while speeding around a corner breaks any sort of immersion the game could ever achieve. At this early stage, the aesthetics were also far from that achieved by Forza, DIRT or Project Cars 2.
Again, I can't stress this enough, it's a very early stage for the game so it's doubtless all of this will improve. Particularly when you consider the pedigree of the development team, veterans of Need for Speed and Burnout. They made it clear that the inspiration is the fact that no racing game has ever been made based on the biggest car show on the planet. 'Top Gear: The Game' was never made, so it does make sense to make 'The Grand Tour Game'.
The obvious market for The Grand Tour Game are fans of the show. Well, at least to an extent. I'm a fan of the show but I'm also a fan of a well thought out racing game. As in, genuinely, if a game makes that conscious decision to be an arcade racer or a simulation, at least I know what I'm getting into.
With this? Well, I'm not sure. It's strange to watch a clip from the show, with an outstanding supercar, to then jump into a fairly mundane arcade racing game. At least that's what it feels like now. I did ask about the physics and damage engine on cars, that is something the developers still have to work on. That's if it's actually a racing game. When one level is all about setting fire to a car, that's not exactly racing. Is 'messing about' a genre?
It will be interesting, at least, to see how the game will recreate the more extreme stunts or stranger elements of the show. Also, the studio will be looking to make levels from earlier seasons of the show, it would be interesting to ride the Pond Bug on Coniston Water or seeing how the game would recreate dumping cars to save the coral reef.
We don't know exactly when it will be released. That will be announced around or just after we find out when season 3 of the show will be released. As for the pricing, that's also up in the air. What has been revealed is that you'll buy a season pass from the PlayStation or Xbox Store. The developers have said that they are not announcing a PC release 'at this time'.
When an episode comes out on a Friday, the very same episode of the game will also be downloadable. How successful it will be will depend so much on the pricing, how much they improve the driving and how replayable the game will be. I do commend the inclusion of split-screen multiplayer, though I think it's a bad decision to not include an online mode. Or at least not willing to confirm an online mode. You can check The Grand Tour Game out on the official site.