The Crew 2 is the brand new open world racing title from publisher Ubisoft. Sequel to The Crew from 2014 the game puts players in the driver’s seat of cars, bike, boats and airplanes all with speed in mind. Not just being set in the United States The Crew 2 goes one step further to recreate the whole country. However, is this racing title one that will end up on the podium? Let’s find out!
Starting things off, players come into the world of The Crew 2 as a rookie, with limited options but a few awesome opportunities. Three paths are open to you, land, air and sea, with the majority of the content unsurprisingly focused on the first. The aim is fairly clear from the offset to become the best racer, no matter the discipline. Rather than based solely on being the best The Crew 2 utilizes followers and money based measures. As shallow as this might sound it is still is remarkably not as shallow as the “story”.
There are tidbits of information, spoon feed to players during races, but these don’t do much to enamor you with the character you’re playing as. Simply winning or doing what is asked of you at the events will give boosts to follower numbers and prize money will come along with it. What makes the issue stand out is the commentary that goes alongside the races is often 100% repeated when having to retry a race, or simply doing it again to boost your numbers.
If there is one thing that The Crew 2 does right, and something it needed to nail, it has to be the vehicles. Airplanes, motorbikes and speed boats aside, as they definitely feel like side projects, the cars are phenomenal. The different disciplines require very different cars, to the extent the types range from drifting specialties to Formula 1 style vehicles. Not only does each set of cars handle wildly different, but each car has its own stats. There is a reason that the game automatically swaps out your vehicle if you attempt to drive a drift car into a drag race for example.
While is is hardly Pimp My Ride players have a lot of ways they can upgrade their vehicles in terms of performance and visuals. Despite having the access to money it is annoyingly useless in terms of performance, aside from buying a better car. Instead, players must complete events to gain loot drops that give performance based parts: such as new tires, that offer more grip thus faster acceleration times.
When players are first given a vehicle the visual choices seems incredibly lackluster. Thankfully, the extremely limited color options on initial purchase are not the peaks of The Crew 2’s visual experience. Head back to base and players will be able to tweak the paint job, choosing from the expected large color palette and even from differing types of paint, such as pearlescent. From here players will be able to modify the hoods of cars and design/add decals. Forget what the in-game characters say if you want flames up the side of your car… add flames.
The vehicle models look beautiful as they zoom along the main highways and small side streets. They even manage to do this after severe, normally car crunching crashes. Hit a bollard or two and a scratch here or there is to be expected. Drive head on into another vehicle or a wall at 200 mph and you would expect a little more work being needed than a lick of paint, alas The Crew 2 doesn’t deliver. For all the stunning modelling of the cars as if they have just been driven off the showroom floor, it seems the time has not been spent building damage models that would make the game believable.
The races from whatever discipline you choose to participate in will take place somewhere in the sprawling country of the United States mainland. Even with only dedicated tracks the United States would offer an incredible amount of variety, with racing on the streets of New York to a speedboat jump that goes over the Hoover Dam. Yet, The Crew 2 isn’t just pre-made tracks for the races. Players can drive the streets, across fields and the desert like areas outside of the events. This results in an experience where you can visit iconic places across the United States and see the landmarks with racing twists, to make them work the for the sake of playing a game.
The game world itself is setup in a way that is is believable from the moment you drive down the first road, due to it so closely resembling the famous places of the United States. There are a few things that let the living, breathing part of this virtual world down though. The pedestrians are a constant reminder you’re unable to leave the confines of your vehicle: unless it is part of one of the awkward floating head walking scenes, with acting that won’t be winning awards any time soon. Ghosts of other players, zooming around the city, also draw from the experience; constantly reminding you that this isn’t just a playground for yourself to enjoy.
When free of events and driving around there are things to do other than take in the sights. There are countless stunt jumps to hit, recording better distances then friends, and speed traps to hit speed goals. While these won’t be holding players’ attentions for extended periods of time, battling against a friends can be fun and gives areas some meaning to drive through. Alas, despite these additions to the map I felt more intrigued outside of racing, to simple drive down streets of the locations I’d been to in real life.
Oddities can sometimes ruin the gameplay experience but never before have I had a game where I’ve had to Google how to quit. The designers must have put in every single ounce of effort into getting players to stay hooked, because not even on the rather hidden secondary menu does it say the word quit. This isn’t the only odd design decision. When it comes to purchasing new vehicles players cannot rotate them round in a showroom like fashion. Players are also unable to vertically or horizontally flip decals, though this might just be hidden somewhere unobvious like the ability to quit. Whilst these are by no means game breaking bugs or issues (you can always tab out on PC or turn off the console) they do show that The Crew 2 is rough around the edges.
Ubisoft had a chance to deliver an incredible open world racing title and it does somewhat fall short of it had the potential to be. The reason for the racing, the story, is non-existent and just an excuse for a rookie to star progression system. The world itself is an amazing one to drive around but the shallow nature makes it at times feel like driving on Google Maps. This isn’t to say that the game isn’t fun, when looking at the racing and vehicles there is an extremely solid racing game underneath. The experience is much closer to Burnout Paradise’s city than Gran Turismo or Forza, but if that’s what you’re looking for The Crew 2 might just scratch that tire burning itch.
[Editor’s note: The Crew 2 was provided to us for the review by Ubisoft.]