The Crew is a game I have always wanted. A game where you could race across the United States and have fun doing that. Something where I could start at the northeast tip of Maine and finish in San Diego. The Crew allows you to do that and it will take you quite a while to accomplish that due to the sheer size of the map. You can either do this solo or with a small group of friends which, in my opinion, is definitely the way to go. There is a story in The Crew but to me it was secondary to just being able to explore the country and being able to partake in numerous activities during my adventure. You assume the role of Alex Taylor and have been imprisoned for a crime you did not commit. You were set up by a man that goes by the nickname “Shiv” and a crooked federal agent. After a few years pass you get your chance to get out of prison by helping the feds take down the 510 motor club. By doing this you will get your revenge on the two people who set you up. I’m not going to spoil anymore plot details for the story but it is your basic revenge tale and it is one that I generally enjoyed even though I have seen it countless times.
At its core The Crew is essentially a car RPG. Just like with any other RPG you character (in this game, your car) starts off “weak” and as you progress in the game you will acquire better parts that will make your car perform better whether that is better brakes, better handling, faster acceleration or any other thing. At the beginning of the game I didn’t have too much trouble controlling the cars that I was given but I know some of my colleagues that were having issues so it is dependent on the person playing. There are many different things for you to do in the world of The Crew such as scramble skill events, jump events, slalom events and more. As you race through the United States you will also have to sync up with satellite stations to open up more of the map so that you can see the different events, missions and everything else going on around you. I compare it to the towers in the Assassin’s Creed series where you have to ascend a building to synchronize the area around you so that you can see all of the different events. Obviously you won’t be climbing buildings in The Crew but you get the idea.
There are also other important locations that you will want to familiarize yourself with. The first one is your headquarters. This where you can fine tune your vehicle, assign perks that you will give an advantage on the road, look at your car collection, check out your story progress and more. There is one HQ in every region so you don’t have to drive from one end of the country to the other to get to one. With that said though this game does have a fast travel option so if you do want to get to San Francisco from New York you can do it in a matter of seconds. Other important locations include car dealers as well as car tuners. When you purchase a car at the dealer you are buying a “fullstock” car. Think of these cars as somewhat of a blank canvas, they are the beginning of could turn into a classic car. To get there though you need to visit a car tuner. This is where you decide what kind of car you want and which starter kit you are going to purchase whether it be for a street car, dirt car, raid car, performance car or a circuit spec car. Once you have selected which one you want to go with you can then purchase parts (as they become available) to customize your ride. The way that you get these new parts is successfully completing missions as well as side quests in the open world such as the skill events that I mentioned up above. If you get a gold medal, for example, you might earn some better tires and the game you will let you equip those right then and there with a single button press or send your newly won tires to your HQ so you can work on your car later. How deep you want to get really is your decision but you will probably get more out of this game if you know a thing or two about cars or at least have experience tuning them in some other games.
As you progress in the story and as you explore the continental United States you will notice that the development team did a pretty amazing job at incorporating landmarks. I really enjoyed seeing the Golden Gate Bridge for example as I drove through San Francisco and there are literally hundreds of landmarks for you to find. With that said though you can obviously track down these landmarks by yourself but The Crew is much more fun playing with friends. I was in a crew with a couple of other friends and we had fun driving throughout the U.S. and wreaking havoc in the process. We had fun setting up our own little challenges like the first one to get to New York wins if we were on the east coast or something similar along those lines. You can roam the country in free drive but you can also do missions with your crew. If you do this you will earn bonuses and the rewards could be better if you outshine other members of your crew as opposed to if you just did the mission solo. There is also asynchronous multiplayer for when none of your friends are around. You can look at a leaderboard and see how you stack up and you will get messages from time to time when one of your friends beats your time. I received one of these messages right before writing this review and will be hopping back on the game to try and get the best time again as soon as I can. In addition to all of that there is also straight up PvP multiplayer where you can participate in races either solo or with friends. The different levels of multiplayer in the game are pretty awesome in my experience and helps to keep things fresh depending on what you like to do. Once you get done with the main story there are still other big events for you to partake in such as a certain event that will take you multiple hours to complete. How far you get will be dependent on how much you like this game and what commitment you are willing to make. If you are a person that likes to grind in these types of games then you will be rewarded but it will definitely take a while.
Going through The Crew I generally enjoyed my time but the game does have some issues. It seems like the AI is bit too over powered at times. It needs to be balanced in some areas so that some of the harder missions don’t feel as cheap. Being that The Crew is also is essentially a car MMO that means you are constantly connected to Ubisoft’s servers. While I don’t have a problem with this generally there is one nasty aspect to it. If the game thinks you are inactive for too long then it will boot you out of the game and you will be looking at the main menu. So if the phone rings, or a friend comes over for a few minutes or something else takes you away from the game, you will eventually get booted from the game for inactivity and it can be infuriating. I don’t know who the genius was that thought that was a good idea. Some of the game’s transitions could work a tad better as well such as when you are transitioning from the world map back to the action. The game seems to stutter briefly at times when doing this which can be really annoying. Another annoying aspect of the map is that you can’t control your zoom level. Unlike games such as Assassin’s Creed where you can use the analog sticks to zoom in and have precise control over it, here you just hit the trigger buttons to zoom in and out. This can be a bit problematic as there were times I felt it was too zoomed in but then if I hit the button to zoom back out it was too far back.
As far as looks is concerned I thought the Crew looked pretty good but it does pale in comparison to some other recent racers such as Forza Horizon 2. This might be due to the fact that the Crew had to be made for both the last and the current generation of consoles as well as the fact that the development team is just testing the waters with the powerful new consoles. My hope is that the sequel (if there is one) looks much better and development will be solely focused on the current generation of hardware. For me the audio was done pretty well but, again, other racing games have the edge here as well. Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. I do really enjoy how The Crew looks and sounds, there are just some other games that look and sound better. Although to be fair the development did do a pretty incredible job of incorporating the continental US in the game where you can drive coast to coast.
The Crew isn’t going to be for everybody. For me personally I enjoyed my time with the game and will continue to playing it. I don’t see this game being something I endlessly grind with to try and unlock all of the achievements, however, I do see it being a fun game to play with friends as we come up with different things to do during our journey across the country. If some balance patches could be released to fix some of the AI issues and some of the other things I mentioned above this game would be even better than it is now. As of right now though I feel the game is really good but not quite great. I expect that to change in time though as new content gets added to the game and tweaks are released. If you are someone who has always wanted to race across the United States in a game then be sure to give this game a try. Some people might have problems with the car handling at first as I mentioned above but you must keep in mind that like with pretty much every other game, your character (in this case your car) starts out “weak” and will get better as you progress. There are also a number of driving assists for you to tweak to make the experience better if you are having problems. If you are on the fence about this game be sure to give it a try and see what you think for yourself. The Crew has laid down a great foundation that I hope will be built upon and improved with a sequel in a few years.
Originally posted on Gaming Target