|System: PS4, Xbox One, PC|
|Dev: Ivory Tower|
|Release: November 11, 2014|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
Racing games are coming back, and in a big way. The racing market, which traditionally only had one or two choices in it, is now being flooded with new titles. Forza Horizon is Microsoft’s racing title du jour, while #DRIVELCLUB is Sony’s big new offering. But then there is this other title from Ubisoft called The Crew, the first big third party racing title since Need for Speed and Burnout hit the scene. As you would expect, this is another open world racing title, as that seems to be the fashion of the time. But what sets it apart from every other racing offering that is coming to the market? We check out the game at E3 2014 to answer that question.
One thing that makes The Crew unique is its commitment to multiplayer. Just like every other racing title out there, you can build a buddy list and invite your friends to go racing. However, the events in The Crew are a lot more open than most racing games. You won’t be racing on tracks or premade layouts. Instead you’ll simply choose a start point, race to an end point, and see who gets there first.
One of the big features of The Crew is variety. You won’t only be racing on streets in this title. You’ll be racing off-road on mountain paths. You’ll be trudging through swamps. You’ll race across plains and deserts. The choice is yours. When you want to race on roads, you can choose between crowded city streets, busy highways, or remote stretches of asphalt with no one else on the road.
All of this is pretty cool, but it’s still just another coat of paint over the open racing formula. What I really like about The Crew, is the game’s asynchronous multiplayer modes. Say, for example, you really want to challenge your friend to a certain race, but your friend is never online when you are. No problem, just do the race as you usually would and then send a challenge to your friend. If your friend accepts the challenge he will be able to race against a car that takes the exact same actions you do, right down to the route you take. Yes, it’s just another spin on ghost racing, but the ability to make this into a constant competitive experience is a lot more interesting than simply trying to beat someone else’s high score.
The Crew also has a lot of different racing modes to choose from. The standard modes are here, including one on one races, time trials, huge tournament races, and more. However, there is also “takedown” a Burnout style mode in which your goal is to run another car off the road. I got to try a takedown race at the convention, and it was a lot of fun. Most of your targets start well ahead of you, so the first part of every takedown event is simply catching up to your target. When you finally do catch up, it’s not enough to just nudge your opponent until he dies. You have to crash into him forcefully without wiping out yourself. I found myself swiping his car’s nose, pulling hard rights into his side, and even just stopping short right in front of him to get my licks in.
The Crew also has a deep dedication to adding RPG style elements into their racing game. You can customize basically everything about your car. Want tighter steering? Sure. Better tires? Sure. Heck you can just spend all day repainting your car and giving it fancy rims. It really seems like it was designed for gearheads that are all about car building and customizing. I can’t honestly say that I am one of those people, so I’ll probably spend less time pimping my ride, but I’m sure the fanatics out there will be pleased.
The biggest problem with The Crew is the controls. It’s simulationist to the extreme. I had never been good at racing game but wow did I suck at this. I was constantly veering off the road, colliding into other cars when I didn’t want to, and basically just screwing everything up. This game does not pull its punches for newbies. That being said, if you are a long time racing fan, I could see The Crew contending with the big boys like Forza Horizon.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: August 12, 2014