Game Review | The Crew 2 is an Enjoyable if Empty Spectacle
Racing games come in many forms. The insane physics of the FlatOut series. The metal crunching, fender bending destruction of the Burnout games. Every racing game has its gimmick or hook so that players can experience racing in a different way to the games that came before. For The Crew 2 that hook is the vast open world of the continental United States of America. From coast to coast players can fly, drive and boat their way through an enjoyable series of races, stunt courses and time trials all while the emptiness of The Crew 2 becomes more and more apparent.
There’s no real story to The Crew 2. You are an underdog finally given your shot by the Live Extreme series of race events. From there four disciplines are unlocked. Players can engage in street racing, off-road racing, freestyle (boats and planes) and pro-racing. This is a major departure from the first game as instead of trying to exonerate yourself through racing you’re just racing for the glory. Various characters crop up throughout and they range from boring to annoying especially your assistant/mechanic/buddy Hiro who needs a good dressing down. As events are completed you’ll earn followers on social media and some kind of bitcoin-like crypto-currency by the looks of it. Followers unlock more Live Extreme events and the not-quite-bitcoin is used to buy new vehicles.
The vehicles themselves are one of the best parts of The Crew 2. Exceptionally detailed recreations of vehicles from real life they range from super-cars to powerboats to Harley Davidson choppers. I started out street racing in a Porsche 911 in Manhattan and spent about 300,000 not-bitcoins on a juiced up Camaro ZL 1 that roars like a lion and turns like a brick. Although racing isn’t the only kind of event you can take part in it is generally the most fun outside of the monster truck and plane stunt courses. There are other events in the street racing discipline such as drifting and drag racing which I am terrible at and therefore do not enjoy but each to their own.
One thing I really enjoy is powerboating which is probably because I’ll never get to do it in real life. Speeding along the Pacific coast or down the Mississippi in a boat built to reach speeds of up to 210 miles per hour never gets old. The detail put into these high-powered and probably lethal machines is continually impressive such as the water pumped out of the back to add to a wake that’s already extremely disruptive to any tailgaters. There are smaller boats you can race and their nimbleness is unique but getting behind the wheel of a powerboat is something I’m putting on my real life bucket list now that I’ve crossed it off my gaming one.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#70006C” class=”” size=”19"]”For as many events as there are in The Crew 2 there still aren’t enough to justify the game’s free roam capabilities.”[/[/perfectpullquote]p>
The strict courses enforced by The Crew 2’s checkpoint system is kind of ironic especially considering most of these races would be illegal in real life. An early game Harley Davidson race from the Las Vegas strip to Yosemite National Park is hampered by checkpoints scattered along a specific route. It pales in comparison to the system used by the newly remastered Burnout: Paradise where only a start and finish line are set and players are free to choose whatever route they want to win. Checkpoints in street racing might make some sense but they make less sense in terms of boat or plane races. Why limit the direction players can take in the open air or on open water?
There’s a lot of open space in The Crew 2. Too much. For as many events as there are in The Crew 2 there still isn’t enough to make me want to free roam around the continental United States just to find them. Moving on from a street or off-road event is easy. It’s not so easy when you’re stuck in a closed off race track in a car designed to go from 0 to 60 in less than a second. It’s not just the world itself but the events themselves that feel empty.
Developer Ivory Tower – a subsidiary of Ubisoft – couldn’t seem to decide on their pedestrian or traffic populations. One moment there’ll be a half a mile of empty freeway and the next three trucks will have all four lanes blocked which is bad news when you’re in anything but a motorbike. Admittedly the ability to freely switch between a plane, boat or car can solve situations like these and can make for a lot of fun when you’re 10,000 feet up and switch to your off-road buggy. Still I’m not one to brake for pedestrians and if my record in Grand Theft Auto is anything to go by it seems extra irresponsible to allow pedestrians to cross the street when there’s eight souped-up muscle cars taking a corner at 120 miles per hour.
The Crew 2’s online features allow for co-op but not PvP arguably the biggest draw for an always online racing game. PvP will be coming in December this year but that’s not exactly around the corner. I might return to the game when I can race against people online but considering The Crew launched with PvP racing in 2014 this seems like a massive oversight. Other details impress such as the vehicle paint editor and locations such as the lake, deserts and mountains look great on a PS4 Pro. The cities look great and feature some truly strange shops and restaurants. At the moment though there’s not enough in The Crew 2 to keep me coming back for the next five months regardless of how much I enjoy racing, stunting and performing aerobatics 15,000 feet above St. Louis.