Michael Leparc On February 19, 2015 at 3:22 pm

This past fall was chock full of racing titles with a big push behind them. Forza Horizon 2 has established itself as an Xbox One exclusive well worth getting the system for. Meanwhile, Drive Club, a Playstation 4 exclusive, crashed and burned spectacularly on launch and remains out of the grasp of the PS+ audience it was originally promised to. If you didn’t want to be manipulated by the two major first parties, Ubisoft provided an escape (as well as PC version) with The Crew. Unfortunately this new franchise sputters out of the start grid and meets a similar fate to Drive Club, with issues that persist to this day.

The plot is fairly absurd and strains credulity. You play Alex Taylor, a superb wheelman who can escape cops and win street races for whatever reason, but isn’t yet part of his older brother’s 5-10 motor club, or smuggling cartel to be more accurate. Suddenly he happens upon and is framed for his brother’s murder. After five years of prison he is coerced into becoming an undercover agent in order to infiltrate the 5-10 motor club and expose the new leader as well as a corrupt FBI agent who is working with him. Unbelievably, nobody recognizes the younger brother of the former leader of this club to start with. Honestly I don’t think we needed this sort of elaborate excuse to make a game like this and the whole thing just kind of detracts from the experience.

Gameplay wise, this game borrows a lot of tropes from its other open world racing contemporaries. To trump Forza Horizon’s Colorado and southern Europe, The Crew brings us a wide open map spanning the United States, albeit shrunken down to the point that driving coast to coast takes under an hour. Along with the main race missions, there’s also mini games to compare your performance with friends on the leaderboard, mostly consisting of jumps, slaloms, and speed tests similar to Forza’s and Need For Speed. You unlock better parts for your car and money to buy more cars based on your performance in the races (though microtransactions seek to milk you of real dough as well, just like the other games out there). Uncovering new events borrows from the now tried and true Ubisoft method of unlocking towers to remove the “fog of war” from the map. The race missions themselves can be a straightforward finish first sort, or other things like beating the clock, evading police, and taking someone out. It’s the latter of these that was especially frustrating in the beginning thanks to poor mission design that placed you in a wide open offroad area against an opponent that was faster than you. The only way to defeat it was to replay several times until you could just basically cheat by knowing in advance when he was going to turn and crash him there, otherwise there was simply no way of doing damage.

A similar lack of foresight seems to be on display when it comes to the multiplayer, which to this day is plagued by bizarre warping lag effects which make competitive action a pain in the ass. On top of that, there is nothing to mitigate poor sportsmanship, as several of my attempts at online races were aborted right before I won, causing the event to end without any satisfaction. Needless to say, this really undermines the whole concept of a racing MMO they’re trying to push here. In the end, the only enjoyable experience I had in the end was when I ignored all the multiplayer aspects, but even then, it only feels like an average arcade racer compared to Forza Horizon 2.
The visuals of The Crew don’t appeal too much, the cars look nice I guess, but there is a fair amount of pop in during the city segments and the environments don’t quite live up to the competition’s. The voiceovers come off as quite stereotypical and the writing doesn’t help them much. I didn’t find myself caring about anyone in the game, and the music didn’t really catch my ear either with all the generic dubstep. It all strikes me as just adequate, like the rest of the game.

The Crew is a game that could have used more time in the shop, and since the online feels so broken still it’s not really delivering on the one thing it could be doing different from the other games out there. The way most people will play it, it will just feel like an average arcade racer, and so that’s as far as I can take my recommendation. If you’re looking for an quick and simple ride to step into, then this is your ticket, but it’s no supercar.


Doesn’t really live up to its ambition, multiplayer is a crapshoot.


Falls short of next gen level eye candy.


Nothing AAA about this either.


You could do better, especially on Xbox One.

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