An open-world driver comprised of a great big chunk of digital geography, The Crew is all about driving, and it’s got a lot of very pretty spaces to do it in, or depending on how you look at it, one REALLY big space with lots of pretty things in it. More of a light hearted romp, than serious driving simulator its flashy and crashy, but if you like that sorta thing, this game has some fast cars and a lot of road for you to consider.
The Crew was developed by Ivory Tower and Ubisoft, published by Ubisoft
Release Date: December 2, 2014
Genre: Open-world, Driver
Cars and Crime, and Crime in Cars
The Crew as a story isn’t anything you haven’t seen before, and it’s straight out of a B rated car gang movie. Little brother whose good behind the wheels, but rash in his decisions is trying to get into his big brothers ‘business’ with the 510 motor club, of which he’s the boss. Said brother gets betrayed, and shot in the back, dirty cop frames the younger brother and you have your excuse to get a guy whose got a gift for driving behind the wheel with revenge on his mind. It’s quick, dirty, and it works. You’re working your way up your brothers old gangs (now a genuine criminal organization) ranks to get to the top and justice for your big bro. To that effect, there are lot’s excuses to drive, which, for a one dimensional game type, they’ve still managed to find a lot to cram in here. Though, admittedly, they all have to do with going from one place to another at high rates of speed, while competing with other people doing the same thing. So if you like driving, and doing it fast, for fun, and with others, Ubisoft have something you should probably take a peek at.
How’d they fit a continent in here?
The Map is really fantastic, its a brilliant idea that seems so obvious in hindsight, I hope it influences other games, even those not of the driving genre. I’m sure there are some fancy algorythms responsible for the way its able to render, but essentially the map, IS the map. They just went and made a level that is the entire continental United States of America. Are any of the cities as intricately detailed as say, GTA V‘s Los Santos, no, they’re meant to be driven through at high rates of speed, but its still an incredible achievement that they should be very proud of. When you select the map, it simply zooms out to an over view mode, basically a google maps, but The Crew specific. It’s a logical step too, as level designers making real cities have been using that thing to get a close look at the places they were making for as long as it’s existed. The map is also a big challenge, in the good way. The major cities of the 501’s centers of influence, New York, Miami, LA, etc, are big old ‘double dog dare you’s, just calling you out. You got a fast ride, and there’s a lotta road, let’s go see what the West Coast looks like this time of year.
To this end though, the story, whatever holes you might poke in it, works to your service. This 510 motor club has lots of wannabe initiates, and those are all the other people playing the game. The idea being, make some alliances on your way up, but it really supports the fiction. And you see those folks tearing asphalt up and down the same roads you’re driving, all the time. The quick co-op allows for a team up on the fly, or if you should find some running mates and form a little crew of your own, you can bring some friends. The upshot is, though this is an arcadey sort of racer, some of these are tough. I’m pretty good on the pavement, my Challenger is a boss hog, and it grabs the road, hurling itself through corners, and sticking like it’s got claws, but those dirt races? Man, that’s a different experience, and I’m all over the place. But should one of my crew take the flag, it counts for me too, and I’m really good at running interference.
Keep it on the Paint (unless you have the right suspension, then fly at it)
This isn’t a Car Sim, as I hope its title and flashy cover communicate. Frankly, those games are too exacting for me anyway, and driving cars in a more arcadey fashion are difficult enough. But for a car casual type of gamer, it’s been a lot of fun getting to know the cars, and tweaking them as I drive (new parts are an almost constant stream of rewards) including new elements that change the feeling entirely. I really love the way my chosen car, the challenger I mentioned that I secretly call Charlize (or, perhaps not so secretly now) handles, and it’s a real treat to race. That said, there’s still some real challenge to the driving, and I can’t count the time that I’ve incorrectly judged a turn and slid off into gosh knows what, fences, cars, buildings… and some cars are more difficult than others. It’s all part of the experience, and The Crew is pretty good at giving you reasons to try new cars, the Dirt Race I mentioned early, for example.
I should say that, while this game is good, actually, great, at ‘drive fast fun’, I feel the always online thing is a bit of an inconvenience, though not essential, but requiring people that already purchased a copy of your game should also have to sign up or in with a Uplay account feels wrong, and annoys me. It doesn’t take away from the experience when I’m in the world, but it’s a slap in the face every time I fire it up.
This probably isn’t a title for the truly obsessed car sim type of person, who is looking for a pure form of car worship. The Crew is, however, a shlocky fun romp through a ‘secret criminal underworld’ with a healthy dose of revenge fantasy, and a whole lot of very fast driving. Not a super multiplayer / co-op centric type of gamer in the first place, it’s fairly accessible, whether you’re casual, or more seriously into the role playing aspect (which is something Ubisoft is hoping will happen), or, just have a group of folks you like to game with. They also do a good job giving it some value, but you can choose to lone wolf it if you want to. My ‘rebel on a quest for revenge’ is more of a lone wolf, though he’s not above using an ally if its convenient… and if they can handle themselves behind the wheel. Fun, light, and with a fair sized campaign, and a map and world that, even if you roll your eyes at the story, should be seen and experienced.