Within the palms of another writer, an undercooked on-line infrastructure and a slew of lukewarm evaluations would have seen 2014’s The Crew despatched on a one-way drive to the scrapheap. However not so with Ubisoft. The French writer loves a great franchise, so Ivory Tower’s racer returns with a vivid new presentation, disciplines aplenty and sufficient automobiles to sate even the thirstiest petrol head.
Whereas the primary sport used a bland and forgettable underground racing story (one so unhealthy it’ll most likely be within the subsequent Want for Velocity entry), The Crew 2 jettisons any sense of tangible narrative in favor of an excessive sports activities makeover that successfully opens up the map, with fast-travel accessible races out there proper from the off.
Whereas the dearth of a corny story is a particular plus, the way in which through which you discover the sport’s world is an odd selection, to say the least (particularly contemplating Ubisoft has opted as soon as once more for a truncated model of the USA as a setting). For all of The Crew’s issues – and there have been many – its open-world was an enormous promoting level. Driving from East Coast to West Coast, and seeing every part from the rolling maize fields of Kanas to the lights of Las Vegas lighting up the deserts of Nevada made a forgettable arcade racer really feel that bit extra thrilling.
An identical open-world exists on this sequel, however there’s little or no motive to discover it in ‘Freedrive’. The unique pressured you to drive from A to B, and used challenges reminiscent of pace traps and races to maintain you entertained alongside the way in which (and supply a useful method so that you can earn new automobile elements at a gentle tempo).
With quick journey unlocked from the beginning, you merely discover the occasion you wish to play, choose it and increase! – you’re in a ship, aircraft, bike or automobile ready to race. It’s excellent for entering into the motion with the minimal of fuss, nevertheless it needlessly demotes certainly one of its greatest promoting factors to mere mise en scène. You may shift from one car to a different as you roam, however these multiple-vehicle races that dominated the unique’s advertising are painfully uncommon. Once more, one other key function inexplicably watered down.
Nonetheless, maybe that shift in the way you navigate the world is right down to the noticeable inconsistency relating to surroundings textures – we encounter touring automobile races on tarmac so easy and missing intimately that we’d as effectively be racing on titanium, and concrete cityscapes (Harlem, specifically) trying so fundamental you’d assume you have been taking part in one thing on PS3 or Xbox 360. Contemplating how nice some locales do look – off-roading across the Grand Canyon, or street racing on the streets of balmy Florida actually stand out – it’s a weird duality.
Surroundings could be treacherous and laborious to learn too. Some components could be smashed by, however you possibly can by no means inform which fence or pole will break, and which is able to cease you lifeless in your tracks; it’s a lottery at greatest, particularly in busy road races.
Very like 2015’s Steep – one other Ubisoft franchise that packed myriad sports activities into one bundle – The Crew 2 isn’t nearly burning rubber. Now you possibly can leap into powerboats and experience the waves, or bounce inside a stunt aircraft and pull off barrel rolls to your coronary heart’s content material. There are even bikes as a result of, effectively, at this stage why not?
Boats provide a few of the most difficult and dynamic races, with the necessity to slip round enemy wakes key to preserving your pace up. The sport’s engine additionally will get the perfect likelihood to shine right here, with twinkling droplets of water spray touchdown on the chassis of your craft and waves swelling round you. Races set on the coast are simply the perfect of those, with waves offering a dynamic that’s all the time altering.
There additionally some good jet-boat races, which benefit from smaller inland routes (together with every part from maneuvering the waterways of the Louisiana swamps to an indoor course in a on line casino), with intelligent use of corner-cutting and an emphasis on quick reactions making for a few of The Crew 2’s greatest moments.
Planes additionally provide an fascinating strategy to break up the road, drift, drag and off-road races you’ll undertake more often than not. Ivory Tower has managed to place collectively a comparatively accessible management mannequin, though it favors the stunt-based aerobatics relatively than the exact motion of ‘races’ the place you’re really simply racing a ghost and passing by gates in the fitting orientation.
Forza your consideration
As we talked about, 4 and two-wheeled races make up the majority of the sport’s actions, and whereas there’s sufficient distinction between vehicles designed for drifting and people outfitted for lengthy off-road odysseys, the arcade driving mannequin is simply as floaty and in the end uninspiring because the one within the authentic.
For a sport that’s clearly aiming to tackle and surpass the Xbox-exclusive Forza Horizon collection – its XP system even makes use of an identical ‘fan’-based system to unlock new races and disciplines – The Crew 2 lacks the weighty really feel of its huge storage of motors. There merely isn’t sufficient distinction between real-life automobile manufacturers to make the straightforward pleasure of steering a automobile round a observe really feel that a lot totally different from final yr’s Want for Velocity Payback.
The ‘loot’ system from The Crew, which allows you to add new automobile elements to your car, additionally returns, however with the street trip-style actions talked about earlier now not within the sport, you’ll should earn them from finishing races and actions. They’re as soon as once more based mostly on rarity, which provides every of your vehicles a regularly rising Efficiency ranking.
It is an arbitrary quantity, nevertheless it gives a easy strategy to decide in case your car is souped-up sufficient to enter a given race. You’ll additionally want to leap into the sport’s menus as a way to match elements, making the straightforward pleasure of upgrading your automobile whereas on the transfer a factor of the previous.
Then there’s the truth that the sport – very like its predecessor – hardly ever takes benefit of the ‘crew’ setup that’s written proper there on the field artwork. There’s multiplayer help, with the choice to hyperlink up with different gamers, however you’ll hardly ever run into different human-controlled gamers whilst you’ll nearly move an AI-controlled crew throughout a session. With PvP not set to reach till December 2018, The Crew 2 finally ends up turning into a racer that is higher suited to solo play than co-op.
Verdict: Play it
Whereas only a few of The Crew 2’s methods or aesthetics are authentic – its social media-driven reputation conceits are pulled straight from Forza Horizon, its colourful motifs are pure Filth 2, and the open map of immediately accessible actions is Steep to a tee – that doesn’t imply you received’t have loads of enjoyable flying its planes, using its boats and drifting its vehicles. However with so many disciplines, and only a few areas that stand out amongst them, it’s an arcade racer you’ll end and shortly overlook.