The Crew May Be 2014’s Last Racer To The Finish Line But Don’t Count It Out Yet
Ubisoft are publishing their first racing title since 2011’s Driver: San Francisco. Will The Crew offer an experience as innovative and unique as Driver or spin out before it crosses the finish line?
Name: The Crew
Platforms: PC,PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Developers: Ivory Tower
Release Date: 2 December 2014
Price: R450 (PC), R840 (PS4, Xbox One), R700 (Xbox 360)
2014 has been an interesting year for racing fans. We’ve seen the release of two AAA racers so far, each offering an added social layer that promised to change the way racing games are played.
The first, Forza Horizon 2, could arguably be one of the best games to release this year but has ultimately gone unnoticed since it’s an Xbox One exclusive and not part of the main Forza series. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Driveclub promised gamers on PS4 a lot but has failed to deliver much with server issues and broken multiplayer even to this day.
Enter The Crew, the third and final big racing title to release this year, and seemingly also the last AAA game of 2014. In it, players will get to drive across the entirety of a not-quite to scale USA in an open world, free roaming environment. Ubisoft are promising it takes 90 minutes to drive from coast to coast, so expect a massive world to explore.
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The Crew’s unique selling point also lies in its social elements. However, it’ll be offering something entirely different to Forza Horizon 2 and Driveclub: a massively multiplayer online experience. Massively may be a bit of an overstatement; while you’re driving, the game will throw around 10 other players in the area into your game that you’ll be able to see and interact with. You can start “unofficial” races, explore the world together, join up to complete missions or completely ignore them, if you so choose.
I say missions because The Crew doesn’t just offer competitive racing. A large portion of the events on offer are co-operative, something I don’t think has ever been explored in a racing game before. You can invite friends (or get matched with strangers) to work together on a mission. An example of this is a Takedown mission, where you and your allies are tasked to chase down a vehicle and stop them in their tracks.
Fear not, solo players: there is a single player campaign to play through, although you’re also free to invite friends to take it on together. Joining a crew (yep, they really call them that) doesn’t automatically pull you into a mission when one member starts one either. so you can occupy the same world as friends without ever having to actually drive together.
The scaled down version of the USA that The Crew is set in gives players a wealth of beautifully rendered environments to drive (and crash) in. You can visit cities like Detroit and Miami, or drive through the Nevada Desert or The Mountain States. It’s a canvas that offers a wealth of different types of racing and cars a chance to shine; you can go off-road with a rally car, race through the streets in a souped-up supercar, or even do some circut racing. Best of all, you won’t be faced with a single loading screen once you’re in the game.
And the cars. Oh man, the cars. The Crew features a lineup of over 40 fully licensed vehicles and while the driving itself is quite arcade-y, the level of customisation on hand will please even the most hardcore of racing simulator fans. Every car is highly detailed and, if you’d like, you can do more than just get under the hood: you’ll be able to strip the car bare and build it up and tweak everything inside to get performance exactly where you want it. It’s a petrolhead’s wet dream.
Completing events earns you cash, XP and new part unlocks. The game’s progression system is akin to that of an MMORPG, always dangling a reward in front of you to entice you to level up and earn new loot.
Much like Driveclub, online multiplayer is where The Crew is keeping its focus, although it’s definitely offering something new with co-op racing. The single player component will likely be standard fare for modern racers, but there’s only so much a game can do to differentiate itself from the pack in solo play anyway. At least the single player will have the sultry tones of Troy Baker to entertain those who choose to venture into The Crew without friends.
Suspected Selling Points
- Could have a more functional online component than Driveclub on launch
- Co-op has the potential to be a refreshing change for multiplayer racing
- A huge, beautifully realised world to explore
- Lots of vehicle customisation options
- It’s the one big multi-platform racer out this year, and the only one on PC
- It’s a Ubisoft game
- Could have an online component as broken as Driveclub’s on launch
- Racing fans may already be content with Driveclub/Forza Horizon 2 for the year
- It might not be worth playing alone, considering the heavy focus on multiplayer
- Project CARS has more hype surrounding it, and is releasing in 2015
- It’s a Ubisoft game
The Crew has the potential to be a unique experience when it comes to multiplayer racing games, if it can deliver on everything it promises. Let’s hope it succeeds.