The Crew Review
There’s only one publisher that would have the cajones to launch a game called The Crew with a bug that prevents players from actually being able to join a god damned crew. It’s beyond disappointing, because The Crew might just be the most ambitious arcade racer ever. It’s a celebration of the road trip, offering an open world interpretation of the United States that’s memorable and incredible. But for every second of enjoyment you might glean from cruising the USA with your buddies, the buzz is killed by hostile game design, unbalanced AI and unpolished mechanics. Even after multiple delays and –
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Where were we? Oh, yeah: Even after multiple delays and a handful of beta tests over the last two years, Ubisoft has still been unable to get The Crew and its netcode polished to a level we would deem acceptable of an online-only Xbox One game. Nobody comes into a racing game looking for award-winning narrative, but The Crew’s storyline is so ridiculous that it defies belief that it made it past a producer. We lost our save data twice in the weeks post-launch, meaning we got to enjoy the absurd prologue three times over.
Thankfully, once you’ve suffered through this, The Crew unleashes you onto the Mountain States, the East and West coasts, the Midwest and the South. Each of these regions showcases a variety of racing tracks that mirror the five different car specialisations available. The Crew manages to capture the essence of a range of different racing games as it offers the opportunity for street, off-road, performance, raid and circuit racing. This is supported by an accessible upgrade system that feels like it’s been designed as the exact antithesis of Forza Motorsport’s ‘for the gearheads’ design. Every vehicle has a Car Level, which is boosted when you equip new parts. Conceptually, it has a lot in common with an RPG, offering a simple way to upgrade and keep track of your ride and its progress. Acceleration, braking, air-intake and so on are all reflected by your Car Level, giving you a manageable way to know what missions and opponents you are capable of going up against. In theory at least.
Where to begin? Cars come with wing and rear mirrors but they don’t display the environments or vehicles around you, making the first-person perspective entirely redundant. Cars stick oppressively to the road. The AI opponents cheat consistently across all of The Crew’s modes – and this extends beyond a simple case of horrible rubber banding, which you’ll frustratingly encounter all the bloo –
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Ugh. Again? All the bloody time, that’s what we were going to say. The AI has no issue accelerating off into the distance – regardless of how superior your Car Level is – before eventually letting you catch it on the final turn to a victory. AI vehicles will veer off of the track behind you, only to respawn a few hundred yards in front of you in pole position – or worse, directly in front of you, causing a crash at 200mph. Well, it might cause a crash. Collisions and the physics engine are another major problem. You might collide with an incoming vehicle at 120mph only to be harmlessly shunted to the side. Other times, you might graze the curb whilst taking a corner at 50mph and be thrown violently into the air.
This wild inconsistency comes to a head with two of The Crew’s main mission types: Takedowns and Getaway. Takedown missions stick you in pursuit of an AI that’s in control of an-inconceivably fast super vehicle and asks you to smash it until an arbitrary life-bar is depleted. The AI will give you but a few allotted opportunities to hit it, but if you miss those brief windows you may as well retry the mission, because you’ll never catch it. Getaway missions aren’t any better, which task you with escaping the cops or a group of aggressors. Again, the AI possesses unbelievable racing prowess.
As passable as the straight-up street and circuit racing missions might be, these two missions types make it impossible to enjoy the campaign. The problem, of course, is that you can’t upgrade your car without them. As we said before, Ivory Tower and Ubisoft Reflections should be praised for the incredible open world they have crafted, not to mention the surprisingly intuitive and accessible upgrade system, but that can’t possibly excuse a poorly designed game wrought with problems from –
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There’s only one publisher that would have the cajones to launch a game called The Crew… No, screw this, we aren’t starting all over again. We’re done. Now where did we put Forza Horizon 2?