Top Gear Speed World review
Top Gear Speed World is a new Facebook title from Eyes Wide Games, a developer that has been rather prolific with the TV tie-ins recently. In the last week, we’ve seen The Walking Dead Social Game, Real Housewives: The Game and now the officially licensed game for the BBC’s Top Gear, which showed up as the No. 12 top emerging Facebook game at the end of last week.
Top Gear Speed World is a top-down racing game that takes its cues from the popular “DrawRace” series of mobile games published by Chillingo. In each event, the player is presented with an overhead view map of the course they must negotiate, and must draw the path they would like their car to take using the mouse. Once the path has been drawn, the player then watches the race unfold accordingly. The car does not necessarily follow the exact path the player has drawn — if they drew a path around a corner that was too fast, the car may skid or hit something, and it is also possible for the player to enjoy brief bursts of speed by clicking the mouse to unleash a “boost” function. Most races consist of two laps, though the player will fail if the car takes too much damage or hits an obstacle at too high a speed. However, the player is able to retry an event for free if this happens — events otherwise cost energy to participate in.
Between races, the player is able to upgrade their car in the garage and purchase new vehicles. Upgrading vehicles costs both soft currency and time, though the latter requirement may be bypassed through the expenditure of hard currency. For certain levels of vehicle upgrades, the player must also improve their garage, which requires the collection of items from friends — or, again, the expenditure of hard currency. This latter feature appears to be the game’s only real nod towards “social” play, as in the races the player only competes against faceless opponents named after members of the Top Gear team. There’s a missed opportunity for some asynchronous competition between friends here.
More seriously, though, is the fact that the “DrawRace” style of gameplay just doesn’t work as well with a mouse as it does on a touchscreen. It’s difficult to judge where exactly the car will go, and even the early tracks are unfeasibly difficult to navigate at times. And whether using a mouse or trackpad to draw the car’s path, the motion will never be as smooth as simply drawing a line on the touchscreen of a phone or tablet, making it significantly less enjoyable than Chillingo’s titles.
The Top Gear license is also underused. Outside of occasional appearances of The Stig, the opponents in races being named after the Top Gear crew and a couple of races themed around the more peculiar vehicles the series has seen over the years, there’s relatively little to tie the game to the show. The iconic theme music is nowhere to be heard, no licensed cars are featured and the game doesn’t feature the likenesses of Jeremy Clarkson, James May or Richard Hammond anywhere — which also means that there’s none of the series’ trademark banter and irreverent humor to be seen. What’s left is a rather ordinary racing game with a control scheme that doesn’t really fit the platform it’s been released on and a distinct lack of competitive multiplayer facilities.
There’s potential here, but it’s not realised as yet. With a few tweaks and modifications coupled a stronger focus on social play — and perhaps more of an effort to tie in with the show — this could be a fun little Facebook racer. As it stands, however, it’s little more than a mildly curious diversion that will probably just make smartphone owners remember how much fun DrawRace was.
Underuse of the Top Gear license and a distinct lack of social play makes this a relatively unremarkable racer.