The Crew garnered a mixed reception from critics, but still went on to sell well over 2 million units, so it’s no wonder that Ubisoft have been deep into development of the sequel. The Crew 2 starts off with one of the greatest openings to a racing game ever. Shifting from multiple race types in a split second and all the while the horizon is shifting and folding onto itself ala Inception. You get to experience the entire game in a few minutes, so the bar is set high, but can it sustain it in the long run?
The game is set in North America and boasts that you can drive from one side all the way to the other if you want to, similar to the first game, which you can; albeit a scaled down version of the country, but it is very large and driving from one end to the other can take upwards of 40 minutes! Thankfully it is optional, and you can fast travel to any of the event locations on the map. I do want to give props to the developers for this map, it is possibly the best map in any game. You fluidly zoom out of your car to the map and select any stage, once selected it begins to load up surprisingly quickly.
There are 4 main disciplines in The Crew 2 from the outset and you can choose to tackle any of them in whatever order you please. Street Racing, Rally Cross, Planes (aerobatics) and Boat racing. Your goal is to become the best racer, or more accurately the most ‘followed’ racer. Every time you win a race you earn followers, which works much like experience points. Once you hit a certain level of followers you rank up, starting from ‘Rookie’ all the way to ‘Icon’. The further up you go, the more races you unlock as well as even more disciplines such as Drifting, Touring Cars and Motocross to name a few.
The goal is very basic, and there really isn’t a story you can sink your teeth in to. Yes, there are mentors in the game, and you’ll even have rivals of the many disciplines, but none of them are introduced, none have an ounce of character; you simply beat them in a race and move on.
To keep things interesting though, the developers have added more things to do. The Photo mode is not just another addition, there are actual objectives to take pictures of animals, locations or even to drive your car to certain areas on the map. Hidden packages are also scattered around the map to encourage you to explore the environment. Simply listen out for the tracking beacon and even use the photo mode camera to help find the glowing box and get loot, which usually include components for your vehicles.
This game is fun, arcade-y and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It doesn’t force you down any paths, much like the level design in the races, of which there are usually 2 or 3 paths to take. Tracks are very wide too, particularly in the rally cross stages, the first of which lets you drive through an area akin to the Grand Canyon. The street races gave me vibes of Midnight Club with a hint of Ridge Racer. The boat races take inspiration from Wave Race and the rally events play homage to the MotorStorm series. Possibly the most lacking are the Aerobatics events, simply because there is only so much you can do with a plane in terms of tricks, but this can be forgiven. You can play as a ‘Crew’ online, but again, it isn’t a necessity, I had plenty of fun playing by myself.
Visually the game looks good, but it is a huge shame that there is a lot of ‘pop-in’. The engine just isn’t cut out to draw in the detail until you get close to it. Another little foible that bothered me was the bad lip-syncing in the cutscenes. It is so bad, that even the developers tried to edit the camera angles to avoid close-ups of the characters and in some cases focus on other aspects of the scene intentionally. Branded cars are used and they look great, but as soon as you crash the game respawns your vehicle without rendering damage, which we assume was one of the conditions for using branded vehicles.
The developers clearly focused this game on grabbing the crowd that skipped the original, which I have to admit I was one of. In many ways they were successful, and I would easily recommend this title to anyone who enjoys racing, value for money and if they didn’t play the predecessor. However, you will have to look past a few annoyances here and there, and don’t expect a simulation racer, even though there are branded cars.
- Replay Value