AN ambitious MMO racer that feels like a test of endurance rather than skill
Platform: Playstation 4 (reviewed) / Xbox One / Xbox 360 / PC
UBISOFT’s ode to the great American tradition road trip fills a void in the line-up of next gen console game that has been sorely lacking a triple A racer. While Microsoft have debuted Forza successfully on the Xbox One, the Playstation 4 has the flawed Drive Club. With EA opting against releasing a Need for Speed title this winter, the road should be clear for The Crew to get a head start. Unfortunately, it never quite gets out of third gear.
An open world racer revolving around a less than novel narrative concerning a street racer embroiled with a gang and the FBI, The Crew is presented a way of recreating the grand, sweeping coast to coast journeys that are a hallmark of American films and television down the decades, spanning desolate, tumbledown expanses and detailed urban grids. The car handling is a satisfying hybrid of arcade and simulation, closest in style to the Test Drive series.
The Crew is a superb technical achievement but is hampered by its own ambition
With a game world some 1,900 square miles in size, The Crew is a superb technical achievement which offers up a generous realm in which to let rip. A journey from one side of the map to the other takes more than four hours and Its representation of the US is ambitious, even though the land mass is scaled down and the locales at times lack detail. The main problem with the game’s scope, however, is the way its insistence on being half racer, half MMO hampers the overall experience.
As its name suggests, The Crew simply demands that you play it with friends, a mode that is undoubtedly fun as you team up in your respective cars to complete races and challenges. Alone, however, it becomes a frustrating grind, with several hours’ play vital if you are upgrade your car to a competitive level, let alone acquire a forecourt’s worth of new vehicles. Solo play is rendered even more gruelling by extremely questionable AI cars, with rubber banding ensuring you can be pipped at the finish line in a lengthy race - some take over two hours to complete - even when you think you are streets ahead in the lead.
Challenges go on for too long and the game can become a grind
Overall, the always-online game seem to fall foul of its own ambition. Some challenges go on for too long and getting the very best out of the The Crew requires a lobby of players committed to playing for several hours at a time. The concept is more appealing than the reality and regrettably, unless you are prepared to invest considerable time in grinding your way through it, the game feels like a test of endurance rather than skill.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
Evading the police is a stiff challenge, especially during the dedicated Getaway missions. Watch out for squad cars getting in front then braking hard, causing you to crash into them.
Replay races and challenges if you think you have a good chance of success in them. The experience points increase significantly for a first place finish.
Similarly, invest in the perk which boosts your XP as soon as possible. This will see you level up quicker, allowing you to improve your car.