The Crew 2 is the sequel to 2014’s The Crew, an open world racing game where players compete in various events across a number of driving disciplines to become the best. Featuring a recreated version of the United States there’s a lot of space for driving, flying and boating. But does The Crew 2 meet up to expectations?
The Crew 2, like many games before it covers an open-world map that resembles North America. Much like Burnout Paradise and Forza Horizon, players are able to travel from one end of the map to the other should they so wish. It’s an impressive map and the wilderness areas don’t fail to impress. Moving at speed makes the scenery look all the better – water will visibly stream off of your vehicle while mud flicks up and sticks to the bodywork of your off-roader.
Disappointingly, however, the cityscapes don’t fare as well. The visuals in built-up areas remind me of an early era Xbox 360 title, a la Midnight Club LA. The character models don’t fare much better either; with jerky movement and poor lip syncing it’s a wonder the Crew 2 got past quality assurance. The graphical presentation of the game feels inconsistent and really reduces the immersion and I hope this is something that can be rectified with a future patch.
Unlike the original, The Crew 2 is presented as a TV show – a pull away from the underground racing tone of its predecessor. While I feel it does work it also feels a little more cheesy; tongue in cheek rather than coming off as a serious racing game. Some of the character dialogue is downright awful, over the top and unbelievable. It’s hard to get behind the point that these unsanctioned races are not to be feared when you’re barrelling down the Las Vegas strip at 160mph. I feel that the underground theme should have been built on more; perhaps instead of a competition, the Xtreme Live event could have been introduced as a documentary – following a rising star from the underground circuit and beyond to become a legitimate racer.
And not just a racer. But a pilot, biker and boat captain. The Crew 2 offers more disciplines this time round to enjoy. The variety of different vehicles keeps the game fresh and exciting. The different event types keep it feeling more engaging and less of a monotonous grind like some racing games. You have your standard Street Race, where players compete against other racers to come in the top-ranked positions; standard stuff but fun none-the-less. Offroading – which is personally my favourite mode – this is presented as a time trial style event where the player is given a checkpoint to reach and set free to make their way there as they see fit. The freestyle mode adds planes into the mix. I found these events to be the least interesting of the four main types. Players are required to fly around earning points by performing stunts such as loop-the-loops, low altitude flying and air drifting. Lastly, there’s Pro Racing – this introduces boats and various other aquatic vehicles and despite my aversion to water-based racing, it’s actually a lot of fun.
Each discipline has their own dedicated HQ on the map. From here players are able to purchase new vehicles and apply upgrades using the parts rewarded after each event. Each discipline is run by one of the top personnel in the field and your ultimate goal is to best each of these champions on the track – or river – or in the air.
One of the biggest new mechanics added to the Crew 2 is the ability to seamlessly switch from one vehicle to another without interrupting gameplay. Think Sonic Racing Transformed but without the physical transforming. The “Fast Fav” system allows players to switch from sports car to boat, to plane all in one race and despite how well it works, it is grossly underused. It seems to have been saved for a few key events; the Xtreme races, which are set up as a TV show and then once again during the Rival Showdown races which can be initiated once the player reaches 70% in the selected discipline.
I’d like to have seen the Fast Fav system used a lot more – even in the free play mode. Currently ramping your land vehicle into the Hudson River does little more than respawning you on dry land. I feel that a trick has been missed here; integrating the Fast Fav system into the games main events and free play would have made it feel a whole lot more uninformed.
In addition to the bigger races and events, dotted around the map are small challenges such as photo opportunities and speed trap events. Completing these successfully will earn you more followers as well as help you rank up to the next level. Some of the larger events will reward you with a new vehicle, but you’ll also be rewarded with vehicle parts which can be used to upgrade your machines.
The upgrade system, I personally found, to be a little too simple. While I wasn’t expecting something as in-depth as the Forza series I was hoping for a little more. Each vehicle has a performance rating which varies between vehicles. There are a minimum and maximum value which alters based on the mods you equip. By swapping out old parts with new ones the performance rating of the vehicle will go up. The issue I found with this was that I was simply selecting a new part with a higher value than the last. By removing the intricate micromanagement from the upgrade system it would have been better to add an option just to auto upgrade in one go.
Far too often have I given up on a racing game due to watery steering and general lack of control. I admit, when approaching The Crew 2 I had the same trepidation. With so many different vehicles to choose from, I was concerned that developer Ivory Tower would skimp on the handling. From the very get-go, I was pleasantly surprised. While each vehicle type handles very differently the controls are nice and refined. Instantly it allows players to get into the bulk of the game without worrying about learning a whole new driving engine. Drifting around a corner in a sports car is just as slick as jetting through the waves in a high-powered motorboat. It’s one of the high points of the game – a great control scheme really helps with enjoyability and Ivory Tower has hit the nail on the head – so to speak.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed The Crew 2. While not a huge fan of the original I feel the second instalment is a move in the right direction. While by no means perfect it’s fun to play and realistically that’s what a game should be. It does racing very well and comes off as one of the better arcade racing games I’ve played but unfortunately, the graphical inconsistencies really let it down. However, with that being said The Crew 2 is an enjoyable entry into the series. It builds on the first game and adds a few new mechanics. While it doesn’t do anything groundbreaking, I couldn’t help but come back to it again and again for the most simple of reasons; enjoyment.