I am sure by now most people who have any level passion for cars know the names Clarkson, Hammond and May – the trio who made BBC’s Top Gear massive. Then in a shocking event in 2015 moved to Amazon to create a new show called The Grand Tour which has been very successful, and where they are embarking on their 3rd series. Amazon Game Studios has just launched a title to co-inside with the series which puts you behind the wheel of some of the famous cars and challenges from the series where you will driving anything from the mighty Mclaren P1 to the custom built fire engine out of a Lada.
The game plays out just like the TV series. In fact you sit and watch the show so if you haven’t been able to see any of The Grand Tour you will not only be able to watch the show, but you can also play out some of the races. At launch there are only 2 episodes that you can play which are fan favourites: the first being episode 1 from series 1 called The Holy Trinity which pits the 3 hosts racing some of the best hyper cars the world have to offer. As you launch the episode you watch the first 10 minute opener and then you are put behind the wheel of the Ford Mustang driven by Jeremy to race into the desert against the other 2 hosts.
As you play through the events you are awarded Bronze, Silver or Gold medals depending on how you perform in the certain activities. There are various activities as you play through the game such as Drag Racing, Time Trials and Drift Events. There are also races where you pick up power ups which have various effects when you activate them, such as boosts, smoke screen and texting?! Texting is a strange one here because it can put the other drivers off, however it also seems to encourage people to text when they are driving. Personally I would have chosen to play music via their CB radios they have in their cars.
The Grand Tour Game does look really good and Amazon Game Studios have spent a lot of time developing this part, so it is almost a seamless transition between the TV show and the action kicking in and you taking control. Unfortunately this is about all the good points of the game and it starts to go down hill from there. It doesn’t really know where it wants to lie in the gaming world which is disappointing as I would have expected this to be somewhere around the Forza Horizon series… if not a little above that in terms of handling. However, it falls way short. The handling is somewhere between Mario Kart and Need For Speed – you can take corners almost flat without any consequences – and if you touch the brakes you lose a lot of speed and it doesn’t seem to be realistic at all.
The latest episode of the The Grand Tour sees the trio thrashing three of the best muscle cars with a touch of performance tuning and taking Detroit City by storm. The guys have a couple of random races around make shift tracks in what was old factories; and also doing donuts in a car park to see how loud theirs can be. The latter is great to watch on the show because you have cinematic camera angles and the hosts ribbing each other, but when you take control you just smash the accelerator and hold a direction to get it going. Once you hit the loudest decibel to get a gold that’s it. You can carry on donuting, but whats the point? I just sat and waited for the time to run down.
The game kind of gets worse from there too. You can’t change your view at all when most games these days have at least two third person perspectives as well as a bonnet cam. Others boast more, yet these are developers who are masters of their craft coming from racing pedigree backgrounds and have been creating in this genre for a while. Limiting this feature is a massive oversight in my opinion because I rarely race using the behind the vehicle camera, I am more of a cockpit or bonnet cam kind of guy. The fact you don’t have even an option of a second third person camera is a shame. There is also no way of upping the difficulty in terms of turning off assists like traction control (not that there seems to be any), ABS, brakes, or even manual gears. Maybe I am just too far down the rabbit hole with sim racing that when I go back to such a simple game I find it frustrating… though I do manage to play Mario Kart because it is presented in a less serious manner.
Overall the game is good fun and has some really great ideas, it’s just executed badly and they have either dialled down the realism too much or they just didn’t have the time or resources to get the game where it should be. Personally I would have approached someone like Playground games for this to be added as a DLC pack to Forza Horizon 4 even if it’s only on a single format, but it’s the fastest selling game of the series and would fit right in. If they wanted to go multi-platform then how about adding it to The Crew 2? Again, this is another game where something like The Grand Tour would feel right at home. At the end of the day the game is only £12, so if you were to take a punt on you haven’t lost out in too much and you get some pretty easy Achievements/Trophies. That said I am pretty sure this will be in a sale very soon.
An Xbox One review copy of The Grand Tour Game was provided by the Amazon Game Studios PR team, and it’s available now on Xbox One and PS4 for £11.99.