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The Crew Review


With a new generation of consoles there is also the new race to see who is the top racer and already we have had a decent selection to pick from but personally most seem to be the same old ideas but with shinier graphics, nothing really standing out as the true definitive next gen racing game and whilst The Crew is not the best looking, it certainly is the most ambitious so far.

Set in a scaled down America, you play a former street racer who is framed for his brother's murder by a rival racer and a crooked FBI agent. Locked away for years whilst your brother's street racing club, the 510's, gets turned into a nation spanning criminal empire. You are given a lifeline by another FBI agent who believes you are innocent and wants to nail the crooked agent once and for all, releasing you back onto the streets to work your way through the 510's and take down the agent and ultimately get revenge. Whist the story in The Crew is rather formulaic, it does not really matter as it opens up the gaming world to a huge series of racing events across the whole of America; however to get to all the juicy content there are a few little issue to get though with the first few races being plainly frustrating, throwing you into an uncontrollable muscle car but thankfully once the story is set in motion and you have your first proper car paid for by the government the game really gets going, taking part in a variety of solo and group races and challenges across the nation. 



I stated earlier that this was not graphically impressive as other games, especially if you compare it to the photorealism many other current generation games are offering however what wins the player over is the sheer scope of the world in which you can play in and the attention to detail is astounding, driving through city streets, residential areas, mountain ranges, highways and whatever is in-between, each offering its own unique set of hazards from icy roads, swamplands, pedestrians, wildlife, fences and trees, other road users and of course, the police, who once you are on their radar are particularly aggressive in their pursuit. 

The Crew starts off like many of the arcade racers you may have played over the years, the initial few hours just getting to grips with your initial class of car, Street and earning cash and upgrades to make your motor that little bit better but after a while the game really starts to mould into something very different, offering a staggering amount of content to play through. Starting off in Detroit, the world soon begins to open with other members of the 510's wanting to race against you or use your own driving skills for their personal gains. The world is free to drive around as much as you like, however the game will only start to unlock certain challenges and races as you progress so to start it is pretty much best to hang around your home town, winning a few races and getting the attention of the local 510 boss which does not take long, his aspiration to take over a neighbouring city’s 510 faction a perfect chance for you to prove yourself and before long you are racing cross country in a variety of classes from Dirt and Performance to the Raid class which lets you get a little bit more aggressive on the road.

With the game world being so big, even with such an expanse of land to drive around the roads never feel empty with The Crew offering plenty to do from simple points of interest to stop at and take in the atmosphere to the challenges, each granting you experience and lots of unlocks for your motor of choice depending on how well you do in events like hill climbing and slaloms or the more thrilling speed challenge. All of these events are seamlessly integrated into the world so you can have a go en route to the next mission and if you think you can improve your time or just enjoyed the trill of launching your car off a ramp at 200kph they are easily replayed. When you do make it to the missions anything that you drive by of importance is then fast travel enabled, letting you skip across the many states with ease, though you may miss out on the wonders that litter the world. The fast travel does come in very handy though a little later in the game, allowing you to join some of the larger races and faction events a lot quicker than physically driving there, saving time (though the multiplayer lobby was quite often a 5-10 min wait for a full lobby).

For race fans the initial selection of cars may feel a little light and thanks to the miserly rewards it is a slow process getting them all even though having a garage full of well-known cars and a few hidden surprises is cool, the real fun is in the levelling up of each one, with certain cars able to be altered between the classes, letting you take your favourite car on and off road with some serious customisation. Unlocks for each vehicle come in all sorts of varieties and further amplifies the arcade racer feel with the simplicity of selecting them, with new tyres and gear boxes and weight reductions switched with ease, the higher they are on your list the better they are, all adding to your cars overall level and in true MMO style some also have extra special bonuses to offer when equipped. It is not just the cars that level up but also your driver with points you being being allocated to certain perks back at your garage, upping your experience gains, reducing shop costs and a plenty of others that unlock as you progress.

So after putting some serious mileage into the game I have come away with some seriously mixed feelings as this arcade racer is definitely one I will be playing long after the review is over but there is a lot of forgiving you have to grant The Crew before you can really enjoy it like its iffy physics and collisions, clearly not having the same feel as other popular racers out there. The AI also lets down this game, with some very suspicious runner band AI that is very unbalanced, with racers behind you constantly nipping at your bumper the whole race and on straights they will just sail right by you, your only chances being on corners or inventive shortcuts (i.e. jumping off a cliff). I can understand the logic, especially with the mammoth races that unlock later, the game keeping them tight and exciting but at the same time ready to punish you for any mistakes, more annoying considering that all your rivals seem to have a sixth sense and precision skills when it comes to avoiding traffic. There is a reset button if you do get in trouble but nothing like other games with quick rewinds which would be ideal here, instead it places you back on the track or at least close to a checkpoint you may have missed; 90% of the time it works but then there are times when it can fail abysmally, pointing your car in the wrong direction and taking even more time to rectify. 



There is also the problem with the always online approach, with my experience I came across a couple of problems a day, be it logging on or more annoyingly the game just dropping me out right at the end of a race, not so bad for the sort events but after a gruelling couple of hours this can really infuriate. The reason for this always online is for The Crew to really create a community, joining and recruiting others into your own crew, racing and generally helping each other progress and earn even more cash and experience and it is this area that will make or break this game, as if the servers run well and do not kick out players the game will be played as it is supposed to, letting players participate in huge cross country races in your crew, a very new and exciting idea for the genre.

For all the issues I have had with The Crew, it managed to do the racing well enough to enjoy; the idea is fantastic and if they release the same game again but with better AI and handling I would grab it again in a snap as the feeling of freedom and the amount of content is astonishing and whilst it is not all whistles and bells on the visuals, it really shows just what this newest gen of racers can offer if in the right hands.

Words by Ash Buchanan.

(Version Tested: PS4)

Pros

+ Huge open world to enjoy
+ Decent variation of cars and events
+ Multiple ways to level up

Cons

- The server issues.

Edited On 08 Dec, 2014

Comments
( 1 )
ade0410's avatar
ade0410 2 years ago
Good review but a few points. I'm having a blast with this game. One of the best driving games I've played. The map and being able to drive anywhere and experience so many different read world environments is great. Your comment about the AI is correct regarding the rubber banding but I've seen the AI make some dramatic mistakes especially whilst driving faction missions which can take up to 2 hours to do. As long as your car meets or exceeds the level required it makes for an exciting duel usually between 1 or 2 of the AI. No game I've played can you drive from Dallas, through Death Valley ending up at Los Angeles starting in day time, driving through the night then seeing the sun come up. Much more than I was expecting when I got this.

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