Top Gear: Stunt School Revolution
Captures the spirit of the show, but is this a fun game for gear-heads?
Fans of the first Top Gear game will know what a reasonable recreation of the TV program the sequel is likely to be. Well, it's not exactly an accurate recreation of the Top Gear experience, given the absence of Jeremy Clarkson making jokes about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes or the disabilities of Prime Minsters. Still, if volleying caravans over canyon edges or taking roof-strapped pianos on a loop-the-loop rollercoaster course is your thing, then you'll feel right at home in this new game from BBC Worldwide, Top Gear: Stunt School Revolution.
Unlike the first Top Gear game this is a free download which (as we should all know by know) means you'll be waiting for timers to tick down before you can take on another course, gathering sorry-looking piles of the currency that's needed to unlock car parts, or simply missing out on the best parts of the game.
Fortunately, the tokens needed to take repeated attempts at old courses, or tackle a new challenge, are doled out once per minute up to a maximum of 15. You can buy more of these of course but, assuming you're happy to take the game on in the smallest of chunks, you should be able to get by without spending money.
Gold Nuts on the other hand are doled out rather meagerly for succeeding at challenges and you'll need to amass a fair few of these in order to upgrade your vehicles sufficiently to take on the most interesting challenges. Stig dollars will also be required to unlock the rarest car upgrades.
This is hamster-wheel (no pun intended) gaming at its finest: take part in challenges to earn more money, so that you can upgrade your car,so you can take on the same challenge again and do slightly better the next time. If you're happy to see past the repetition, you'll probably enjoy the game quite a bit, although it takes far too long to unlock anything interesting that lies beyond the initial stage.
That first stage is set in the Grand Canyon, a pretty enough environment that features leaps, particularly narrow courses and bulls-eye challenges that ask you to smash into a target. Alcatraz, New York and Sydney make up the other environments of the game, and more are promised in the future. If you can find yourself motivated to earn enough dollars, nuts and permits to make it through the game without splashing out on in-app purchases, well, good luck to you.
The physics-modeling of every vehicle is pretty laughable but then so is Jeremy Clarkson, so it's not entirely inappropriate. The vehicles feel solid enough going in a straight line, but attempt to use the gyroscopic controls and they soon fly out of your control as though you're trying to juggle wet fish. The touchscreen steering works much better although there's still a tendency for the car to fishtail around the screen should you attempt anything too adventurous.
There's a wonderful stupidity about the game which I suppose is appropriate given the source material, and if you really truly are a Top Gear nut, then you'll probably find it easier to gloss over the game's greater failings. The daftness, the caravans, the challenges and the tinkering are all there, and that may be enough for the most hardcore fans. The spirit of the show is certainly here, even if an especially solid gaming experience isn't.
What's Hot: Some suitably daft challenges and an extensive unlock system.
What's Not: The unlock system is rather painful and the vehicle physics aren't great.