Since checking out the initial release earlier in the year, Amazon Game Studios has added the entirety of the show's third season to The Grand Tour Game. What began as a short two-episode teaser when it launched in January has now developed into a full game, with 15 fully playable episodes available, clocking the runtime in at around four hours of single-player content. That being said, if you plan on watching the full video segments as well, a few extra hours can be added to that. It's a shame then that no truly great ideas have come forth in the third season, and the additional 13 episodes only serve to highlight why The Grand Tour Game really needed some more time in the oven, and possibly a format rethink.
You begin season three with "Motown Funk", the first new episode that sees the hosts blast around the former motor city of Detroit in three mighty muscle cars. This episode and its location provide some unique drivable areas, including a makeshift track from the show, which was setup in an old abandoned factory and aptly named "Hammond's Death Trap." The wonky physics are still out in full force, but this location and specifically its track layout show The Grand Tour Game at its best, offering locations and scenarios you just don't see in other racing games. Sadly, not all episodes are quite as well suited to a video game format, highlighting a major issue with the concept.
Take, for instance, the Colombia Special. This two-part epic was a highlight of the TV season, showing some stunning scenery and genuinely funny challenges for the three hosts to take part in. When translating that to a playable format, however, things begin to fall apart. The majority of the episode has you completing mundane objectives like taking photographs of animals (it was a task in the TV show), towing other cars and crossing a thin bridge. Not only that but at times you get such a limited window of interactivity (10 seconds to take a picture) before control is taken back and another TV segment pops up. At times, the show is also way off your completed objective, meaning the gold medal you earn is for nothing close to what the presenters actually did in the show. The game sticks to its philosophy of "play the show", albeit inaccurately at times, but we feel it would have been better to take the segments that work best in a game format, and just translate those over instead.
This format would have not only cut out some of the less playable sections of the show but also could have given the team more time to make the driving feel right. Instead of rushing season three to coincide with the show's release, Amazon Game Studios could have waited for the upcoming series of specials to wrap up, selected the best sections from all four seasons, and created a proper racing game around that. After all, we're not sure many Grand Tour fans would have bemoaned the missed opportunity of photographing some birds instead of translating more of the best content from season one and two into video game form.
Another area where we would have appreciated more focus is the off-road sections. These often open areas are the most forgiving on the game's physics, as the wonky handling model on offer translates better to a loose gravel surface. Driving around in the vast open desert of the Mongolia Special was a highlight of the whole package, but old recycled "hit the checkpoint" objectives took the sheen off it somewhat. Death-defying jumps like the Danger Signs seen in Forza Horizon or thrilling rally cross stages could have made this, and many of the other off-road sections in the game, much more exciting.
The Grand Tour Game's strict episodic format may be ambitious, but the gameplay that accompanies it most certainly is not. Questionable driving mechanics and an overabundance of not-so-fun activities mean that The Grand Tour Game never reaches its potential of becoming a true driving adventure. Maybe more development time, a stronger physics engine and a better thought out set of mission objectives could have made The Grand Tour Game worthwhile for racing game fanatics, but as it stands its quality lives up to the "licensed game" tradition and pales in comparison to the brilliant TV show.
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