It’s difficult to get behind a racing game when you are an RPG person. The first installment of The Crew, sought to solve that problem by providing upgrades to your car, without putting a glass ceiling on it. But the original game struggled with the always online policies, and a weak narrative, does the sequel does better? Let’s find out.
The Crew 2 is an open world racing video game developed by Ivory Tower and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, PS4, and Xbox One. The game was released on June 29, 2018.
THE CREW 2
Story & Narrative
The original game tried to tell a gritty crime story. Didn’t work out for them. Ivory tower decided to scrap that this time around and replace it with a more generic, a looser ended and let’s be honest a more believable story of an extreme vehicle star trying to make a name for himself/herself.
While its no Assassin’s Creed 2, I think the narrative suits the open-ended, non-structured design of the game. You are a driver/pilot to your car/bike/boat/plane taking part in various extreme sports events across the country, so you can become more popular, and earn more money, so you can buy even better vehicles for yourself. Along the way, you meet NPCs who introduce you to bosses (for want of a better word) for various disciplines, which provide you with a specific goal to push towards. Its simple, straightforward and easy to digest, and gives you enough premise and motivation to enter various events.
Gameplay & Mechanics
Simple is also the best way to explain The Crew 2 world. It doesn’t take you more than 10 minutes on what is going on, and what you need to do. You are provided a bar that you fill up as you gain more followers. You are given a basic car to kickstart your career, and every time you take part in an event, win or lose you take out some cash and some followers. Open the map, and you can see some events highlighted better than the others, head on over to them, and one by one they will introduce you to all the other disciplines that you can pursue, along with a basic entry level vehicle to start participating in events.
You are free to pursue the events available to you in any order you want. Win a particular race/event and you can then try out the harder version of the event, which you can participate in after you upgrade your vehicles with parts that drop as loot from those conquered events. It’s the classic ARPG circle, only this time it’s your car/boat/plane instead of your character and the races are the dungeons.
The variety of events available to you is where Ivory Tower scores most of its points. There is dirt racing, drag racing, drifting, X-Bikes, Formula races, street races, stunt races to name a few. It’s not tough to find the discipline that suits you the best, neither is it too much of an ask to move on to another, once you are bored. There are even special events which combine various disciplines and are extremely fun especially considering that you could be far behind in 3/4th of the race, and yet end up winning it in the last discipline because your plane is just plain better than your rival’s.
The rivals section is where it gets tricky. The game has been designed in such a way that it can be completed solo (a result of a change of strategy at Ubisoft in recent times), and yet its always-online world implored you to hop in and joins up with others and do….? Not a lot. Apart from taking part in some nearby races together, there is not a lot to do with friends in The Crew 2. So it back to the drawing board on that front I guess.
Another think Ubisoft has never done well is vehicle control. The responsiveness leaves a lot to be desired especially in cars, where irrespective of the kind of road you are on, it always feels as if you are on astroturf, with your car skidding more than rolling. But at least they are easy enough to transfer over from one mode to another so that you don’t find yourself learning a completely new control scheme when you finally decide to make the switch from your boat to the plane.
Moving from race to race has also been streamlined with fast travel now available from Day 0 so to speak, so you don’t have to race across the breadth of the country if you want to pursue a drifting challenge on the east coast. Though there are perks to taking the scenic route, and switching from boat to car to plane and back to a boat again is not the only one. If you so choose, you can take advantage of various photo and video opportunities that will pop up on the way earning you, even more, moolah and social followers.
Graphics & Performance
Performance wise I have no complaints from The Crew 2. The game ran flawlessly during my time with it on the PS4, and churned out consistent frame rates with very chopping or sludging, even when there was water, mud or traffic on the screen. A special mention needs to be made of the zoom mechanic, which lets you slowly zoom out from where your car is to the eventual world map. The transition is smooth, and mid zooms, you can see your car in a living city. A novelty that didn’t become old with time.
Graphically, I don’t have a lot to compare The Crew 2 with since I have not played Forza Horizon or Driveclub, both of which boasts better-looking cars. However, Ubisoft does do a good job of portraying a variety of models, especially the formula race cars, which looked above average. The graphics do shine when you are racing though. One memorable race in The Crew 2 takes you out of Las Vegas, through a concrete tangle of freeways, across blinding salt flats and up through scrubland into the fog-shrouded mountains, bursting into the clear sun over the peaks of the high Sierra, and then into a vertiginous descent amid the sheer cliffs of Yosemite.
The Crew 2 can be a fun little experiment as you find out how dropping in a speedboat from LA skyline might feel like. Or it can be a more serious exploration into various locales that USA has to offer with various vehicles. On the downside though, the races and the multiplayer falls short of expectations again. The Crew 2 is fun, but not for long.