The Crew was a massively ambitious racer with some interesting multiplayer-integrated mechanics, but it failed to really pick up enough steam when it released back in 2014. The series is back, though, with a second iteration that aims to improve upon all the elements of the first game, while adding aerial and boat racing into the mix. That’s right, players can jump from the streets to the skies to the water, all within the same race; but does that translate into a fun and cohesive racing experience?
The premise of becoming the best racer around isn’t unfamiliar territory to the genre, and merely a serviceable reason to race around the good ole US of A – anywhoo, it’s the vehicles themselves that are always the stars of the show, and thankfully, the Crew 2 has many.
Audi, Nissan, Ferrari, Pagani, and other big-name brands’ prized-beauties all feature in the four-wheel arena of the game, giving players the opportunity to take control of some of the world’s best cars. Now, they don’t operate in a simulation-style as they would in Gran Turismo, for example. This is an arcade racer through-and-through, so wide drifts and tight handling is the name of the game here, more along the lines of Need for Speed and Burnout, and that’s something the Crew 2 is aware of – it’s not trying to be taken too seriously.
The result is a fun and detached racing experience, which allows even the more casual racing fans to be able to pick up a controller and have a decent go – and this extends across to the flying and boat racing, but there are contrasting moments during these disciplines. The air races can be exhilarating at times, dicing between buildings and towers as you try and overtake your opponent, but it does feel a little ’empty’ at times when you’re simply flying toward your next challenge or checkpoint.
The boat racing does a bit of a better job to increase the pace of the action, giving you some frenetic tracks based in inner-city canals, but it also struggles to capture the excitement of sliding around a corner in a Nissan GT-R. There’s this undeniable feeling that you always want to return to the road.
One of the big focuses of the game is the ability to switch on-the-fly between a car, boat, and plane, which opens up a lot of opportunities when exploring the world and liberating parts of the map that would’ve been unvisitable otherwise. The funny thing is that The Crew 2 doesn’t necessarily integrate this ability into the races too well. There are certain events which cross land, sea, and air, causing you to automatically switch between vehicle-types, but there’s no control over this and it would’ve been interesting to see some events which gave you choice over the matter.
A notable point to make is that The Crew 2 doesn’t feature an offline mode in the classic sense. Ubisoft wanted the game to be a shared open-world, which does provide a lot of benefits, having a massive environment to explore with your friends and building up your own crew to dominate, but those without an internet connection will have to, unfortunately, ensure they have some sort of connectivity in order to play The Crew 2.
There’s no denying that The Crew 2 will provide racing fans some fun, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that the game would’ve benefitted from sticking to one discipline and doing it extremely well, rather than the kitchen-sink approach. However, it’s unfair to review a game based on what one would’ve wanted, rather than what they got, and what we got is an interesting and extremely ambitious racer that will keep those who play online busy for a long time to come, but those who seek more traditional solitary racing experiences will have to look elsewhere.
The Crew 2 is available now on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
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