The Crew Review – So Much to See and Do

By: Louis Edwards
 

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The highly anticipated next gen racer The Crew has been unleashed upon the world. Is it a must have title for racing fans, or would it be best to send it to the junk yard?

Read our review to find out.

2014 hasn’t exactly been a stellar year for next gen racing titles. The only real entry was Driveclub and it fell on its face with network issues and still hasn’t released a PlayStation Plus Edition. The Crew was delayed almost a month for some last minute polishing, so racing fans had slim pickings to choose from. GTA V, while not exactly a racing title, could have been used to supplant your gaming desires, but without any licensed vehicles it’s not quite the same thing. Lucky for us the wait for The Crew is over and we have been cruising the U.S. for a week, experiencing an open world that is pretty vast.

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The Crew opens up as Alex, controlled by you, is driving his brother to a meeting with one of his brother’s gang members. The meeting goes south, your brother ends up dead, and the FBI pulls up and frames you for the murder. Fast forward five years and you are given the opportunity to avenge his death by infiltrating the 5-10 gang and bringing down not only their operation, but the dirty FBI man that framed you as well. Once released from prison, you’ll be directed by your FBI handler on what to do, what to drive, and where to go. By working your way up through the hierarchy of the 5-10 gang, you’ll gather much needed intel to bring to justice the people responsible for the murder of your brother.

The storyline isn’t the greatest, but Ubisoft and developer Ivory Tower did try to make it interesting. There’s not much for twists and turns to the story, but some of the characters were memorable and likable. This is not some kiddie story, but rather an adult story of murder and corruptness and how one bad cop can make someone’s life a living hell. Five years in the slammer for murder does seem a little on the light side, though, and the freedoms Alex gets behind the wheel seem a bit much for the likes of the 5-10 gang. Taking over territory from other gang members would probably require more than just a race, too, but it does kind of make sense in the given world of The Crew. The Crew is a racing game, first and foremost, so let’s not get too hung up on the depth or quality of the story.

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The Crew is set here in the United States and covers the country from coast to coast. One could jump in their car and spend hours cruising the vast open world map without any loading times whatsoever. For the world map to be this big, and not require any loading time when going from one region to another, is a masterful feat in and of itself. Kudos to the developer for showing the rest of the world the possibility of no loading screens. The graphics and detail found around the map are incredible. the level of detail gives you the sense of a real world environment, full of wildlife and people, all of which can jump out of the way faster than you might think possible. Deer, bears, elk, and even rabbits and foxes can be found all across the country with a myriad of other creatures great and small. The many landmarks of the game are detailed nicely as well. From the Golden Gate Bridge to Coney Island, there are plenty of things to see around the vast game world and each landmark is part of a vast collectible system.

The country is split up into five regions, each with their own set of events and collectibles.Hidden around each region you will find old junkyard ready jalopies that you’ll collect hidden car parts off of. Once you have found all of the parts for that region, you’ll have a fully assembled vehicle ready for you to customize and upgrade. Each region also has it’s own car dealership and a specific type of car tuner. As you progress through the game and complete events, you’ll win upgrade parts for your current vehicle. Upgrading your car is one of the major keys to success, so if you are outmatched in any one event, head on out into the open world and find different skill events you can complete in order to upgrade your vehicle. These events include car jumps (easiest gold upgrades), speed tests, where you’ll have to drive as fast as you can, through traffic, all the while staying on the road and over a set speed limit, and several others. The number of skill events across the country are too many to count, with the harder events being unlocked as you progress through the game. Earning XP will raise your driver level, which in turn determines which events you are ready for, so cruising the open world and completing these events helps in more ways than one.

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There are five different types of car specs in the game, each with their own set of events designed just for them. When you first purchase a vehicle from a dealer, it comes as a Fullstock model with no upgrades available. You’ll have to head to a tuner in order to start making that vehicle ready to run, and this is where the tuners come in. There’s a Street tuner in Detroit and a Dirt Tuner in New York that you’ll be using early on, but it’s the Perf tuner in Miami that will make your car hit 200+ MPH. The Raid dealer in Vegas will help you create a vehicle that is perfect for heavy off road use and your last tuner is the Circuit car tuner. We’ll let you find that one on your own as it’s the last one to unlock.

Once you’ve earned your upgraded parts, you can head back to your headquarters and install the ones you may have earned before you could actually use them. Swapping out parts gives you an exploded view of whatever it is you are working on, and for those of you that haven’t seen the inside of an engine or a transmission, you are in for a cool surprise. Actual moving parts are shown inside of the part, with a cut away and/or exploded view, detailing the part to a level that makes me want to start turning wrenches again. From the driveshaft to the brakes, and  from the engine to the rear end, the level of detail is impressive.

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The cars look great and the detail is impressive, but what’s really important is how the cars drive. Most driving games fall into two distinct categories: sim and arcade. The Crew is more of an arcade type of racer, unless you decide to turn on hardcore driving mode and switch to an inside the cockpit view for driving. You can also add a steering wheel controller, and you are pretty close to a sim. Still not quite Driveclub or Gran Turismo, but then again it’s not really trying to be. The game is reminiscent of Burnout Paradise, and that’s not a bad thing.

The open world environment, coupled with a vast map and countless events to take a run at, will give you hours upon hours of driving time, and with the game being always online (internet connection is required) there are always folks around who can join up with you and assist you in events. This is a unique aspect where when you and your crew run a race, if any one of you finish first, you all reap the same rewards. What that means is, if you are racing against a group of AI drivers where one car seems to be much better than the rest, your crew can ram him into last place while you finish first, and everyone on your crew wins. You can just do all of the events by yourself, but gaming is always more fun with friends to me.

Developer Ivory Tower consists of several veterans of previous racing titles, and it clearly shows. While they may be a newer company, their work shows them to be seasoned developers. The Crew is worthy to be a part of any racing fan’s library.

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