Cruisin’ the USA.
I enjoy a fun racing game. The Need for Speed series has always held a place in my heart, with its hokey stories and blockbuster action movie game play. In recent years, many racing games have gone away from the Fast and Furious style, and moved more to a traditional take on the racing scene. Enter The Crew, a new racing game set in the streets of practically every major city in the US, and with it, the hokey action movie story I’ve been looking for.
The Crew is essentially a mission-based racing game where players take control of a man named Alex Taylor. His brother was killed right in front of him and he took the rap for it. Now, five years later, he, along with some undercover law enforcement, are trying to track down his brother’s killer while infiltrating the criminal gang The 5-10’s.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox 360
Price I’d pay: $59.99
Multiplayer: Online co-op and versus
In a completely open world, players can drive to any point on the map. The map is the entire United States. Just so I’m clear, the entire country. It is an understatement to say this world is gigantic. Granted, it’s not modeled exactly, but for how large the area is and where all I could go, it impressed the hell out of me. In similar Ubisoft fashion, the world is littered with events, challenges, satellite towers and other collectibles to locate. I easily spent 4 hours just finding things and exploring the city of Detroit and the surrounding counties. Finding a satellite will uncover part of the map and show everything in the area. Think of it like synching in Assassin’s Creed. After the prologue, players are free to explore and travel. Of course, the first thing I did after a little co-op action with my friends was go straight to LA and then travel back through the Southern states. It really is impressive to see.
Story missions revolve around making a name for Alex and going up the chain of command of the 5-10’s. Each leader has their own city and area to do missions in, and the progression is well done. Many missions are basic races, while others have players trying to take down another vehicle, get to a certain area in an allotted time, or escape high speed chases. Pretty much every activity is covered here.
A legendary car part dropped.
Events spread throughout the world, challenges and story missions all give the player experience points; the better they do in said events, the better the rewards. On top of that, they will unlock new performance parts that increase their car’s level as well. Without getting too complicated, using red and green numbers to show if a part will increase the performance or bring it down simplifies the entire thing and makes it easy to understand.
At The Crew’s headquarters, players can modify their vehicles, change parts they have unlocked, obtain perks and review their mission progress. Perk points are gained through leveling up their driver. Perks are represented by their story crew. Some perks offer better performance for their cars, while others will give higher experience boosts and other stat influencing abilities. It is complex, but still simple to understand. With the progression in place, it always felt like I was improving something.
Co-op street racing.
The big bullet point Ubisoft touted for The Crew was the always online universe. There are always people driving around, doing their own missions. Co-op is really where the fun is. Even without friends, players can offer a co-op mission when starting one, and anyone in the surrounding area can choose to join. Co-op changes the form of certain missions, like having partners protect another on their team or having anyone in the crew win the race. Running 150 miles per hour with a few buddies is the way to play this game. Every time I was in co-op I had a blast, even if it was just us exploring the world.
There is also a PvP part of the game where players choose a certain faction and compete against each other for said factions. This allows for competitive play, but also extra money and experience that goes towards the single player as well. It’s a nice distraction if players can find other to play with. I found that many people are doing the PvP as much.
The presentation is very well done as well. From the GPS style of the waypoints to the way the car breaks down in the shop when equipping new parts, it really does have some style. While the story is your typical action flick, it’s something I wanted to see, and brought me back to the old Need for Speed days that I enjoyed. Mix that with a pretty well thought out soundtrack and it is a fun package.
Now, there are still some problems. The driving is fine for the most part, but it does take some getting used to especially, coming off of other racing games. While the visuals are fine and the sense of speed is pretty amazing, when actually looking at the environments the textures are pretty bland, and when some of them take a while to load in, it can look downright bad in some spots. Still, I’m supposed to be running 100 miles per hour, so that really isn’t on my mind all the time. Lastly, the load times are long and tedious. I know this is a giant world that has to be loaded in, but the initial load when starting the game can take upwards to a minute and a half. Since this is an online game, the servers need to be as stable as they can, and there were multiple times I was kicked to the main menu due to losing connection to the server. It has become more balanced, but still shows up from time to time.
I know many people have been skeptical of The Crew, and after playing it, I have no issues. Just exploring the world was a blast for me. My time spent with the game was very enjoyable, and with some friends it is even more fun. It has a few issues, but The Crew is a fun game with an action movie story that I think many will enjoy especially in co-op.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.