The Crew Review

Ubisoft’s huge new open world racer puts a big emphasis on social play.

Posted By | On 24th, Dec. 2014 Under Article, Reviews | Follow This Author @Bojeeva


The concept of Ubisoft’s new open world racer, The Crew, was ambitious to say the least. With over 6,000km of living, breathing roadways meandering across the United States, players could drive pretty much anywhere through five distinct regions.

The playspace spanned over 5,000km2, with a thousand locations to discover and 12 major cities to traverse – each with their own identity, feel and driving requirements. There’s a healthy roster of vehicles, all boasting different – and upgradeable – attributes, and around 900 challenges to test your driving prowess and earn you XP to improve you chosen car. You can play solo or be matched up with other gamers from around the globe within seconds to either compete or co-operate as a “crew” in a myriad missions.

Impressively, Ubisoft and Ivory Tower have delivered.

1370792353_thecrew_screenshot_miamibeach_nologo_e3_130610_415pm

"With scant regard for white picket fences, telegraph poles or parked cars you smash your way through a series of checkpoints before being urged to head to the finish line - a Data Station that unlocks all the local objectives and missions."

The Crew’s story mode is just like something out of the Fast And Furious movies franchise (not necessarily a bad thing), telling the tale of bearded driver Alex Taylor (voiced by Troy Baker), who decides to avenge his brother’s murder by tracking down criminal crews based around the country.

Right from the off you’re dumped at the wheel of a mud-splattered truck hightailing it away from an army of police cars, sirens wailing, and a helicopter. With scant regard for white picket fences, telegraph poles or parked cars you smash your way through a series of checkpoints before being urged to head to the finish line – a Data Station that unlocks all the local objectives and missions. From here on out, you’re able to go anywhere and do pretty much anything you like, whether it’s the story mode, exploration or completing the multitude of side missions.

Not since Codemasters’ 2009 racer Fuel has there been a driving game that has attempted such scale. The Crew is not quite as large (Fuel apparently totalled over 5,000 square miles – equivalent to 13,000 km²) but it still takes ages to head from one side of the map to the other.

1370792333_thecrew_screenshot_chinatown_nyc_e3_130610_415pm

"There is absolutely loads to do, from the story mode to playing others online, including Player vs Player or as part of a Faction. Each region hosts a few Faction objectives, which last from about 15 minutes to two hours! Complete them and loads of cash will come your way for upgrades and new cars."

Starting in Detroit, your escapades will take you to some iconic landmarks across the US, and you’ll travel through some very distinct environments too. In fact, I found myself forgetting about the story and instead embarked on an epic roadtrip from the east to the west coast, taking in Chicago, Salt Lake City, Yellowstone National Park, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. It was an impressive and enjoyable journey – and quite an achievement by the developers. At no point was the trip dull but, suffice to say, Fast Travel is a welcome addition to help navigate this huge game map.

There is absolutely loads to do, from the story mode to playing others online, including Player vs Player or as part of a Faction. Each region hosts a few Faction objectives, which last from about 15 minutes to two hours! Complete them and loads of cash will come your way for upgrades and new cars.

Side missions are always popping up on the map too, helping to remove any monotony from the huge expanses of land you’ll be travelling across.  These tend to be nice and short, providing a welcome distraction from driving from A to B. They not only test your driving abilities, but earn you medals and help you gain vital car parts to improve the performance of your vehicle.

There are plenty to take part in, from Speed Skills, where you have to drive fast and stay on the road, to Precision Skills – where heading through gates is the order of the day. Other favourites are Slalom – weaving either side of aforementioned gates – and the Scramble Skill missions, where you have to smash through targets to earn points. It’s simple initially but these markers are all over the place and get pretty tricky to hit when they take you off road and you start sliding about. Some of the tougher challenges are only unlocked when your car reaches a certain level.

1370792313_thecrew_screenshot_blackhills_southdakota03_nologo_e3_130610_415pm

"Tuning allows you to tweak your car’s driving style to suit different missions and challenges. Besides the basic Full Stock version you start with, Street, Performance and Circuit kits provide a lightweight option for souped-up speeds and are ideal for navigating the cities and roadways."

Car Dealers can be found in some of the major cities, offering various vehicles for sale. You can even test drive them first! Many of the really decent ones cost a fair bit so you’ll need to grind your way through the game to earn enough cash or delve into the murky world of microtransactions. There are also plenty of customising options to change the decal and livery of your car, as well as the ability to tune and upgrade it too. Ubisoft has made each car a “twenty piece puzzle that players can customise and upgrade at will as they unlock body and performance parts”, so there’s plenty to keep you going.

Tuning allows you to tweak your car’s driving style to suit different missions and challenges. Besides the basic Full Stock version you start with, Street, Performance and Circuit kits provide a lightweight option for souped-up speeds and are ideal for navigating the cities and roadways. The Dirt and Raid upgrades, however – complete with crash cages, sump guards and all-wheel drive – are perfect for heading off road.

It’s all good fun and both racing and discovering new areas is addictive. There are some niggles though. Handling doesn’t feel great – especially in the basic cars – and it won’t be to everyone’s taste. Personally, I found cornering a nightmare at first and couldn’t help but slam into walls and oncoming traffic. Despite my best efforts, it was nigh on impossible to avoid collisions as I was belting along the highway. A little perseverance though and it wasn’t long before I was driving pretty competently and racking up the wins and bonuses.

the crew

"The AI can be massively frustrating too, with rivals of a supposedly similar standard somehow managing to surge ahead of you with unreasonably fast acceleration. There are also instances of rubber banding where enemy AI suddenly springs up from out of nowhere even if you hold a healthy lead."

It’s a little bizarre that a driving game handles crashes so haphazardly too… Sometimes you’ll drive at full speed into an oncoming car or a tree – but the collision results in little more than a shunt and lets you continue on your way relatively unscathed. A swipe of a slow moving town car trundling along a busy city street, however, may stop you dead in your tracks and lead to a full blown cut scene showing your impact. It’s strange.

The AI can be massively frustrating too, with rivals of a supposedly similar standard somehow managing to surge ahead of you with unreasonably fast acceleration. There are also instances of rubber banding where enemy AI suddenly springs up from out of nowhere even if you hold a healthy lead. And then there are the random results; several times I lost to someone online, only to be rewarded a first place finish – I was grateful for the victory but it was still a little weird.

Police chases liven up the proceedings between missions and can be commonplace, particularly if you’re driving without due care and attention through a big city. As you smash and crash your way through oncoming traffic, fences and lampposts to evade the cops, you earn a higher wanted rating and your pursuers become a little more aggressive. It’s pretty satisfying when you escape their clutches but should they stop you, expect a hefty fine.

the crew

"Visually, The Crew is not much of a looker – the car models are decent but the environments, though varied, won’t have you marvelling at their next-gen beauty. Stop a moment, however, and remember that this is an MMO and you’ll realise it’s quite a feat that it looks as good as it does."

The onscreen display is minimalistic with really only your speedometer at the bottom left and a map bottom right. Head to the map screen and set a waypoint and a huge floating blue line hangs above the road, directing you to the next destination. This cool take on Sat Nav works really effectively, keeps the roads clutter free and doesn’t prove at all distracting – definitely something I’d like to see in other games. Drive the wrong way or stray offroad and holding down the B button puts you back ontrack hassle free too.

Visually, The Crew is not much of a looker – the car models are decent but the environments, though varied, won’t have you marvelling at their next-gen beauty. Stop a moment, however, and remember that this is an MMO and you’ll realise it’s quite a feat that it looks as good as it does. You’ll still no doubt gawp at the scenery as you drive through the mountain ranges, the acres of forest, or a bustling metropolis. As a side note, I love a good idle animation – and The Crew’s is a cracker. Leave your controller unattended for a short time and the camera swooshes up and pans around the car, showcasing the design, curves and – in my case – damage.

The Crew is a huge game and a decent racer at that. The story missions will teach you the basics and get you a reasonably decent car to start your journey online… and that’s where things get really interesting.

This game was reviewed on Xbox One.

THE GOOD

A massive world to explore with plenty of recognisable sights and landmarks. Literally hundreds of challenges and the lure of newer, upgradeable cars will keep you playing. Online play is pretty seamless.

THE BAD

AI can be frustrating, with rubber banding and advantaged cars. Handling will not be to everyone’s taste. Good cars and expensive... and microtransactions make another appearance.

Final Verdict

The Crew is a reasonable racing game with tons of gameplay modes and an absolutely massive world, however its bland story dents the experience.

A copy of this game was provided by developer/publisher for review purposes. Click here to know more about our Reviews Policy.

Awesome Stuff that you might be interested in


 

Copyright © 2009-2015 GamingBolt.com. All Rights Reserved.