The Crew 2 review: planes, boats and automobiles
Within the arms of some other writer, an undercooked on-line infrastructure and a slew of lukewarm critiques would have seen 2014’s The Crew despatched on a one-way drive to the scrapheap. However not so with Ubisoft. The French writer loves a great franchise, so Ivory Tower’s racer returns with a vivid new presentation, disciplines aplenty and sufficient autos to sate even the thirstiest petrol head.

Whereas the primary sport used a bland and forgettable underground racing story (one so dangerous it’ll in all probability be within the subsequent Want for Velocity entry), The Crew 2 jettisons any sense of tangible narrative in favor of an excessive sports activities makeover that successfully opens up the map, with fast-travel accessible races obtainable proper from the off.

Enhancing your follower rely will open up new occasions, in addition to new racing distinctions

Whereas the dearth of a corny story is a particular plus, the way in which wherein you discover the sport’s world is an odd alternative, to say the least (particularly contemplating Ubisoft has opted as soon as once more for a truncated model of america as a setting). For all of The Crew’s issues – and there have been many – its open-world was an enormous promoting level. Driving from East Coast to West Coast, and seeing every part from the rolling maize fields of Kanas to the lights of Las Vegas lighting up the deserts of Nevada made a forgettable arcade racer really feel that bit extra thrilling.

An identical open-world exists on this sequel, however there’s little or no motive to discover it in ‘Freedrive’. The unique compelled you to drive from A to B, and used challenges equivalent to velocity traps and races to maintain you entertained alongside the way in which (and supply a useful method so that you can earn new automobile components at a gradual tempo). 

With quick journey unlocked from the beginning, you merely discover the occasion you wish to play, choose it and increase! – you’re in a ship, aircraft, bike or automobile ready to race. It’s excellent for entering into the motion with the minimal of fuss, but it surely needlessly demotes certainly one of its largest promoting factors to mere mise en scène. You’ll be able to shift from one car to a different as you roam, however these multiple-vehicle races that dominated the unique’s advertising and marketing are painfully uncommon. Once more, one other key characteristic inexplicably watered down.

There's no rewind feature here, so you'll need to drive extra careful when in a race

There isn’t any rewind characteristic right here, so you may have to drive further cautious when in a race

Nonetheless, maybe that shift in the way you navigate the world is all the way down to the noticeable inconsistency in relation to setting textures – we encounter touring automobile races on tarmac so clean and missing intimately that we would as effectively be racing on titanium, and concrete cityscapes (Harlem, specifically) trying so primary you’d assume you have been taking part in one thing on PS3 or Xbox 360. Contemplating how nice some locales do look – off-roading across the Grand Canyon, or highway racing on the streets of balmy Florida actually stand out – it’s a weird duality. 

Surroundings will be treacherous and arduous to learn too. Some components will be smashed by means of, however you may by no means inform which fence or pole will break, and which can cease you lifeless in your tracks; it’s a lottery at finest, particularly in busy road races.

Crew lower

Very like 2015’s Steep – one other Ubisoft franchise that packed myriad sports activities into one package deal – The Crew 2 isn’t nearly burning rubber. Now you may leap into powerboats and journey the waves, or soar inside a stunt aircraft and pull off barrel rolls to your coronary heart’s content material. There are even bikes as a result of, effectively, at this stage why not?

Boats provide a number of the most difficult and dynamic races, with the necessity to slip round enemy wakes key to maintaining your velocity up. The sport’s engine additionally will get one of the best likelihood to shine right here, with twinkling droplets of water spray touchdown on the chassis of your craft and waves swelling round you. Races set on the coast are simply one of the best of those, with waves offering a dynamic that’s all the time altering.

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Pushing forwards on the left analog stick will give you extra speed in a powerboat, but reduce handling

Pushing forwards on the left analog stick provides you with further velocity in a powerboat, however cut back dealing with

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It's great to have the loot system back, but using it is needlessly awkward

It is nice to have the loot system again, however utilizing it’s needlessly awkward

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There additionally some good jet-boat races, which reap the benefits of smaller inland routes (together with every part from maneuvering the waterways of the Louisiana swamps to an indoor course in a on line casino), with intelligent use of corner-cutting and an emphasis on quick reactions making for a few of The Crew 2’s finest moments.

Planes additionally provide an attention-grabbing strategy to break up the road, drift, drag and off-road races you’ll undertake more often than not. Ivory Tower has managed to place collectively a comparatively accessible management mannequin, though it favors the stunt-based aerobatics somewhat than the exact motion of ‘races’ the place you’re truly simply racing a ghost and passing by means of gates in the precise orientation.

Forza your consideration

As we talked about, 4 and two-wheeled races make up the majority of the sport’s actions, and whereas there’s sufficient distinction between automobiles designed for drifting and people outfitted for lengthy off-road odysseys, the arcade driving mannequin is simply as floaty and in the end uninspiring because the one within the authentic.

For a sport that’s clearly aiming to tackle and surpass the Xbox-exclusive Forza Horizon sequence – its XP system even makes use of the same ‘fan’-based system to unlock new races and disciplines – The Crew 2 lacks the weighty really feel of its huge storage of motors. There merely isn’t sufficient distinction between real-life automobile manufacturers to make the straightforward pleasure of steering a automobile round a observe really feel that a lot completely different from final yr’s Want for Velocity Payback.

The stunt-based madness of the aerobatics missions offer up some The Crew's best moments

The stunt-based insanity of the aerobatics missions provide up some The Crew’s finest moments

The ‘loot’ system from The Crew, which lets you add new automobile components to your car, additionally returns, however with the highway trip-style actions talked about earlier now not within the sport, you’ll need to earn them from finishing races and actions. They’re as soon as once more based mostly on rarity, which supplies every of your automobiles a step by step growing Efficiency score. 

It is an arbitrary quantity, but it surely offers a easy strategy to decide in case your car is souped-up sufficient to enter a given race. You’ll additionally want to leap into the sport’s menus in an effort to match components, making the straightforward pleasure of upgrading your automobile whereas on the transfer a factor of the previous.

Then there’s the truth that the sport – very like its predecessor – not often takes benefit of the ‘crew’ setup that’s written proper there on the field artwork. There’s multiplayer assist, with the choice to hyperlink up with different gamers, however you’ll not often run into different human-controlled gamers whilst you’ll virtually go an AI-controlled crew throughout a session. With PvP not set to reach till December 2018, The Crew 2 finally ends up changing into a racer that is higher suited to solo play than co-op.

Verdict: Play it

Whereas only a few of The Crew 2’s programs or aesthetics are authentic – its social media-driven reputation conceits are pulled straight from Forza Horizon, its colourful motifs are pure Grime 2, and the open map of immediately accessible actions is Steep to a tee – that doesn’t imply you gained’t have loads of enjoyable flying its planes, using its boats and drifting its automobiles. However with so many disciplines, and only a few areas that stand out amongst them, it’s an arcade racer you’ll end and shortly neglect.


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