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Review: The Crew

The Crew is a very ambitious game. It tries to combine the most massive racing map ever with a lot of online interaction. After spending some time on the roads of the United States, we can say that the game does a lot things right but still has its flaws.

The story:

Before you can start your engine, The Crew introduces the protagonist ‘Alex Taylor’. Alex’ brother is the leader of the notorious 5-10 gang and was killed by Shiv, under the supervision of a corrupt FBI-agent. Alex was the only one on the crime scene and was arrested for murder short after. After spending five years in prison, Alex is contacted by Zoë, another FBI-agent. She wants to use Alex to infiltrate in the 5-10 gang and take down the current leader Shiv and the corrupt agent. It’s a basic revenge story that opens up the roads in the USA.

Welcome in the United States of America:

Since it’s your goal to infiltrate in the 5-10 gang, you’ll have to challenge the members in various missions spread over what might be the biggest map in a racing game. Ubisoft recreated the USA and divided it in several regions:  Midwest, East Coast, The South, Mountain States and West Coast. Each region has its own 5-10 chapter and challenges where you’ll meet a lot of the members and get closer to Shiv. The characters you meet during your journey aren’t memorable at all. Most characters are stereotypes of street racers. It’s a shame that the characters aren’t worked out since the cinematics of the storyline really look impressive.

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Pick your car for the right job:

Since the game is divided into different regions, you’ll have to pick the right car for the right job. Each region has its own tuning spec. Keeping a close eye on these specs is crucial to succeed in your mission. A Street spec car won’t last long in Raid spec territory. The specs are divided in Street, Dirt, Perf, Raid and Circuit. You can tune your car in each of the regions, to match the best tuning spec. Every car you buy comes without a set spec, so you’ll be able to have a big collection of specific cars in no time.

The tuning specs are important since you need to adapt to the roads. A Street spec car is great for missions in the city, since those cars don’t have trouble with difficult curves. While Raid on the other hand, is meant for off-road action. The tuning spec you select, has a big impact on the way you control your car. Aside of the specs, the cars aren’t that different at all. Aside of their weight, you won’t really feel the difference. Selecting the right car for the right job is crucial to advance in the story.

 

Go on a road trip with your friends

 

There’s a lot to do:

So basically, you’ll end up spending a lot of time with the tuning of your car. This is important to win the story-based missions. Those missions mostly consist out of races but there are other types of missions as well. Think of bomb-driving or taking down other racers. Most story-missions are fun to play and can keep you going for a long time. Most missions can be completed without ‘losing’ too much time, but there are some bigger missions as well.
Aside of those main missions, the map is filled with challenges. You activate a challenge by driving through the portal. Once you activate it, the challenge will pop up on your screen. These so called Skill missions offer Speed, Jump, Slalom, Race Line and a lot more. If you manage to score bronze, silver or gold, you’ll be rewarded with a lot of cool stuff. You can gain more money and better car parts by completing these skill missions. Those missions are great to keep you motivated while you’re driving towards a far location.

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The road trip:

The Crew can be considered as the first racing game that delivers the feeling of a true road trip. Since you’re able to go anywhere on the map, you’ll find yourself discovering new places a lot. The road trip is a big part of the fun, especially when you play with your friends. Forming a crew with your friends online is fantastic. You can set your destination and take off together as a true crew. I found out that the road trip was often the most fun part of the game. While you’re on your way to a location, you can invent your own type of mini-games like smashing most traffic or barrel roll over houses. If you use your imagination, you’ll have a lot of fun on every road trip.

Always online:

One of the biggest innovations in The Crew is that you’re always online. In fact, this is one of the first Massive Online Multiplayer Racing Games. While you’re driving on the roads, you’ll often meet other racers from around the world. You can drive against them or join them as a crew to complete some missions or challenges. A crew can consist out of two to four players and is worth the trouble. Since you’re always online, you’ll find a partner or rival within no time.

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Levelling up is a big part of the online community as well. Since other players will be at higher levels, it’s important for you to level up. Levelling up means better cars and more important, faster engines. If you manage to level up, you’ll be able to form a great crew.

Different Factions:

The last, but important gameplay element is the factions. A certain faction controls a certain region on the map. Needless to say, the factions are ‘at war’ to be the best. Once you arrive in your second region, you’re able to pick a faction. The more regions you ‘unlock’, the more factions you can join. Joining a faction isn’t final since you’re able to switch faction every seven days.

Joining a faction leads to faction missions. Those missions often are races, both short and long. By completing these missions, you’ll gain reputation points. Those points are used for the reputation of your faction. The better the reputation, the better the rewards.

The fun part about factions is that the computer looks at the way you drive and generates a rival that is a little better than you. Racing a lot of Faction missions will help you to improve your skills.

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Not everything is good:

If we take a look at the content that The Crew has to offer, we can only say that we’re very happy with it. It’s a perfect game to kill some of your time, especially when it’s with friends. Too bad the big map came at a big cost. The Crew doesn’t exactly looks good. The cars are ok but the environment really looks like it was ported from a first wave Xbox 360 game. It’s a shame the game doesn’t look that good but we understand the decisions that had to be made. Creating a huge map like this means the console hasn’t got enough power to make it look next-gen.

Aside of the looks, the game also features microtransitions. You can buy ‘Crew Credits’ with your money, so you can buy the best and fastest cars in the game. You’re never forced to buy those credits but if you don’t, you’ll really need to invest a lot of time in order to get the best car in the game. It’s a shame that those microtransitions are part of the game since it spoils the freedom of the roads.

Conclusion:

The Crew doesn’t look nor plays like a true next-generation game and that’s a shame. It has a lot of potential and the missions and map really offer a lot of fun. Playing The Crew on your own is rather boring, but inviting friends online can result in unforgettable road trip moments. It features some of the best moments found in racing games, but also some of the worst. The game didn’t exactly live up to its full potential but you’ll enjoy your time with it anyway!

7.5/10

Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.