I'll be the first to admit, I'm not a huge TGT watcher. I've seen parts of the series here and there, and I do love the trio of Clarkson, Hammond and May, but for whatever reason I've just never gotten around to really giving their new Amazon outing a fair go. Funnily enough, playing the game actually got me more interested in checking out the show, even though it seemed like half the game was simply watching an episode anyways. And, that's not necessarily a bad thing in concept.
I see this game so far as less of a game and more as a new way to consume media. So far, I've only played through the first 2 available episodes which are the premiere episodes of Seasons 1 & 2. The way it plays out is that you select an episode on the menu screen, and then the episode begins playing while you just sit and watch for a while. Basically any time one of the hosts gets behind the wheel of a car, the player takes over and it's a gaming section. The switch between episode clips and gameplay is absolutely seamless, to the point where I actually missed a few starts because I just wasn't paying enough attention to what I was supposed to be doing. It didn't annoy me though, I'd much rather every game was so quick when transitioning between cutscenes and gameplay.
The weakest part of the experience was the actual gameplay. It was smooth, and for a $15 game looked pretty good, but seemed shallow somehow. Many of the driving experiences amounted to slightly curvy straight lines, and there wasn't really much of a sense of achievement. If you lose badly, there's zero punishment, the game just keeps on rolling. While this might be seen as a way to invite non-gamers to give this a try, it deprives the game of any sense of... gameyness. I'd love to see unlockables for acing challenges or setting a new fastest time on the track.
I did very much appreciate the heavy Mario Kart influence on the track sections of the game. Four-player split-screen and balloons you can drive through to give you special power-ups such as "More Horsepowers" and "High Tea" tell me that the devs definitely have a soft spot for everyone's favorite Italian plumber. There's even a power-up akin to the Mario Kart ink splatter (in which your screen is overtaken by digital octopus ink, obscuring your view). The Grand Tour Game's analog to that power-up comes in the form of one of the 3 hosts sending you a text message which pops up in a very large window across your screen. Kids, don't try that at home.
Although the gaming sections felt somewhat fleeting, I still think this game and the roll-out strategy in general have a ton of potential. While I was live-streaming the first two episodes of the game earlier in the week, several people asked me, "Is it worth the $15?" Well, seeing as the game has only released around 10 percent of its content so far, it's hard to be absolutely confident in an answer, but if we can reasonably assume that the rest of the game will be around the same quality, I'd say $15 is a more-than-fair price point to experience a great show with great hosts in a unique way, seeing as the Season 3 episodes will continue to release for free. Mark my words, this is the first game of its kind, but it absolutely will not be the last. Prepare yourself for an onslaught of television/video game tie-ins in the coming years.
Because the majority of the game hasn't been released yet, we'll release some more of our thoughts as more episodes of the game become available, with a final verdict once we've experienced it all. If you want to pick the game up for Xbox or Playstation, you can do that right here, and don't forget to tune in for our next live-stream at 2:00 p.m. EST on Youtube where we'll be playing through the next in-game episode to be released; the premiere episode of the third season. Until then, if you've given the game a try, let us know what you think of it so far in the comments. We'll see you on Tuesday.
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