The Crew beta impressions
I’m sure you’ve heard the plot line before; racer kid from the wrong side of the tracks get into strife, has a personal tragedy, the feds pick him up and get him to work for them, whilst at the same time giving him a shot at revenge…all while spending ridiculous amounts of time racing and hooning around cities across the entire United States. Sounds like a Fast n Furious plot line, when in fact this seems to be the premise of Ubisofts latest driving game, The Crew. They were generous enough to cut me loose in the beta for a few days to sample what the game has to offer.
Much like a Fast n Furious flick, it’s a little shaky in terms of the plot line. The plot introduction almost literally reads as ‘oh damn, I’m busted. Hi, I’m some random FBI chick. Work for us and we’ll clear your name and let you get revenge. Cool, let’s go.’ Much like the films however it’s also easy to just brush aside the plot holes and focus on what matters; the action itself. You’re in good hands there, as the game is co developed by Ubisoft Reflections…oh yes, the people who brought us the hilariously fun Driver series. A series which also featured undercover cops, car based action and a variety of vehicle choices. Tanner doesn’t make a comeback here…or at least as far as I’ve seen (at least Vin Diesel isn’t here to shift fifty thousand times on his automatic gearbox.)
As an undercover operative, your mission is to race your way across the entire US of A, working towards bringing down dirty cops and the people who wronged you. Along the way you acquire a (surprise surprise) crew, who assist you with racing, developing the story and providing you with skill points and upgrades. Along with racing, there is also a plethora of challenges and side quests, which help you level up (earning skill points), and give you unique upgrades to use across your vehicles-performance, visual and otherwise. The map itself is an entire United States, albeit scaled down (though it still takes 45 real minutes to go coast to coast. Road trips anyone?)
The cars themselves are a real star in the beta. You can customize them to suit different styles of racing. Humble street tunes, full on track spec kits, and even off road and rally modifications are all available as you level up. You can change the body kits, wheels, paint, add stickers, even change the interior to suit yourself. Along with visual and performance packs, you can purchase parts individually, but be careful as the vehicles have different performance classes, similar to the Forza and Gran Turismo series. Throughout each area of the map there are also hidden parts to find; get them all in each area and you’ll find yourself unlocking some unique and legendary vehicles to use throughout your adventures.
The gameplay is continuously online, meaning that you and your friends can fluidly jump in and out of cruises, races and storyline missions as you please. Cruise together as a group, or hunt down that kid that dinged your ride. The handling is quite arcade like, much like the Driver series. In fact, the more I got into the game and the more I played the more it felt like a Driver series title. And that’s a good thing. Ubisoft reflections have a lot of experience with these sort of open world racing titles, and it shows. Each driver game always felt like an evolution of the last one; The Crew gives you the feeling that they took Driver San Francisco and added customisation (and got rid of that weird coma thing. Sorry if you had your hopes up about jumping from car to car.)
Being a beta, the game isn’t perfect. But that’s why betas exist. Ubisoft have pushed the release date back once already so that they can implement the feedback from their PC beta, so it shows that they are serious about getting The Crew right first time. You only have to look at the integration issues Driveclub had to see why that’s important. And to be honest, I can see even a sim racer like myself having a lot of fun with this. It feels good, the cars look awesome, the customisation is among some of the most plentiful and personal I have seen, and the gameplay lets you pull off some sweet moves without letting it get away from you. I look at this as an evolution of the Driver series; I certainly hope it kicks off as well as that did. At this stage, the full game is scheduled for release December 2.
Don’t be a square, be a CREW driver!