In The Crew 2, there’s a ridiculous amount of satisfaction to be felt from nose-diving a stunt plane towards the ground before pulling up at the last minute, transforming into a power boat and splashing down into a small canal. That same canal, moments before, was just a small blue line on the edge of visibility. The same can be said of hurtling along a busy motorway before quickly changing into your plane and taking to the sky, beating that damn rush hour traffic.
Its organic non-structured moments like these that players will remember the most from Ubisoft’s The Crew 2. This Fast Fav system marries together well with intuitive video sharing that allows you to upload quickly edited clips straight to your personal YouTube channel. If your clip gets enough hits and/or likes, it will feature on Ubisoft’s own Uplay The Crew 2 site. The picture mode, as well as being an in-game feature to gain “Followers” (think: XP), is also easy to use, allows basic editing and your creations can be uploaded to boot. It’s clear that Ubisoft is pushing this community aspect of The Crew 2. More’s the pity they’ve missed out on what could have been the games main focus: online multiplayer.
Where the Crew at?
This game could easily play as an MMO; it seems a perfect fit, but it simply isn’t there to any significant level. Players can add people to their crew, or join another crew, they can ride around together, do certain co-operative events, but that’s all, unfortunately. I can’t help but feel Ubisoft missed a beat here. There are really no incentives to play online, in an online only game. Perhaps game modes or events aimed solely at a multiplayer crew? Or even competitive online races? Given Ubisoft’s recent post-release game support, such as The Division, I’ve got a feeling in an update or two, there will these extra game events added, and The Crew 2 can live up to its reputation.
Taken as a single player game, with online elements, The Crew 2 does throw a trunk load of content at players. The progression system is built around “Followers”. Gain more followers by winning races, completing events, and competing in the stand-out “Xtrem” events. “Xtrem” events come up at each level of character progression and involve multi-vehicle races, tied together in “Inception”-like world bending shifts. It’s pretty cool when it does happen, and highlights how much more polished The Crew 2 is over its predecessor.
I feel the need…
The Crew 2 is a game best witnessed at extreme speeds. The world feels at its most impressive whipping past your windscreen at 200 mph. The Rally Raids are a personal favorite. These comprise point-to-point off-road races, taking in desert, mountain, bayou and forest trails. Mud splashes the screen as you tear down 45-degree descents, suspension screaming under strain of the undulating ground, before you sight the next checkpoint, up what seems to be a near-vertical surface, oh dear…
Slow things down, however, or even dare to stop, and the surface textures can be quite ugly. Foliage can appear 2D, buildings roughly finished, and writing on street signs blurry. To be honest, though, I can absolutely forgive the lack of polish when stationary. This is a game that is unashamedly about motorsports. Drive, fly, powerboat; do whatever you want, just do it FAST.
Each vehicle handles like it’s meant to be thrown around a course. This is pure, full throttle, hand-braking-around-a-bend style racing. If you’re a purist, who prides yourself on finessing through an apex, high in, low out, then you may find it too arcadey. The vehicle customization is in depth and allows for plenty of personalisation. Vehicle liveries can be downloaded, and there are hundreds to choose from. Individual parts can be customized with all the usual options that we have come to expect of modern motor racers. Vehicle upgrades can be won by doing races, but not bought, so performance improvements can only be gained by success.
Welcome to the family…
There are four families of events to undertake during the game, and each family is made up of various disciplines, taking in each main mode of transport.
- Street Racing – Street Race, Drift, Drag Race, Hyper Car
- Offroad – Rally Raid, Motocross, Rally Cross
- Pro-Racing – Power Boat, Touring Car, Air Race, Alpha GP
- Freestyle – Aerobatics, Jet Sprint, Monster Truck
You will start off with the first discipline in each family unlocked (post tutorial), and unlock more disciplines with each level of Follower progression. A simple system and it would work well but for the lack of explanation. There is no real hand-holding. Once the tutorial races are complete, the world is opened up to the player, with no specific direction given. This can be taken as a good or bad thing. The world lacks a connection to the player and vice versa. The player character is an unnamed, voiceless, emotionless shell. A simple character creation system would do well here, but instead, there’s a small number of preset characters to choose from. There is no discernible performance difference between any of them.
How do you Crew??
The Crew 2 is definitely an improvement on the original. It’s more polished, more coherent, and removes any semblance of storyline. The focus is simply on getting your ass in a vehicle and getting you out racing. There are a massive amount of events to choose from, and the new additions of planes and powerboats fit in nicely. There’s a real extreme sports feel to the game. Each event family has a kingpin, and your overarching goal is to challenge and beat them. The difficulty curves nicely, an even with hours of play there are are still no “gimme” races. The game is let down by its multiplayer element, but any other gripes seem insignificant compared to the fun to be had.
Shout out to The Boy Dangerous for helping me with the gameplay/testing, holla atcha boy! The Crew 2 is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC.