Trying to race back into your heart.
The original Crew game was right there in terms of being a potential break out hit, but frustrating controls, a lackluster story, and technical issues held back what could have been a great game, and ultimately, it got raked over the coals a bit from both critics and fans. The Crew 2 is tossing out everything that didn’t work, sticking with what did, and adding some exciting new features as well.
We recently got to go hands-on with The Crew 2 and this time the focus seems to be entirely on the action and over-the-top races. There’s still an overall narrative of wanting to be the best in various racing disciplines but it’s not going to be the driving force behind the game. Rather Ivory Tower is honing in on what people really did like about the first game, an open world with a variety of different events to chose from. This is amped up in The Crew 2 with an even bigger United States to explore, and more disciplines such as flying, boating, and the return of off-road events such as the ones featured in Wild Run from the first game. I did all of it, boating, flying, racing, off-roading and honestly, I had a blast.
The Crew 2 is structured very similarly to Steep,w here you’re just set free to explore a world full of events and are able to record your highlights and create your own sizzle reels with very little telling you what you should be doing. You make your own fun. However, where Steep stumbled was less that format (but a little because of that format which we’ll get to later), but the physics and controls were a bit strange. Unfair or not, Steep was going to be compared to SSX, where it’s easy to pull of impossible tricks and Steep’s slightly more realistic approach wasn’t going to be for everyone.
The Crew 2 doesn’t have this problem because racing games are much more standard. It’s solidly in arcade-style racing territory. While it’s not doing anything revolutionary, it’s going to be familiar to everyone who picks it up and thus, that won’t be a barrier to fun like it was somewhat with Steep. Whether you’re operating a plane, car, dirt-bike, boat, or whatever, it more or less controlled exactly how you would expect it to. As mentioned before, the focus is squarely on exploring this massive open-world and racing with your friends and strangers.
When I say massive, I mean MASSIVE. I started in New York City, which in of itself felt like it could be detailed and developed enough to be the only space, and did a little street racing and then an aerial stunt event. However, I was able to take myself all the way up to Maine for a boat race and then back down to Jersey for a formula car-like track event. The finished product will pretty much have every major city you can think of in the U.S. and will have events that stretch across the space in between sea to shining sea.
Everything I played felt and controlled great, was visually impressive, and most importantly was just fun with nothing getting in the way of that. In fact, at any point you can switch from plane to boat to car. This led to funny scenarios where I was flying and decided to just drop into my Camaro mid-air and sent myself careening to the ground. I hope Ivory Tower doesn’t feel restricted by realism and takes a page from the GTA V community where they have all kinds of absurd events to take part in.
Everything I can think seems improved from the first game. My only concern is that because the game in going into a hard Steep-like direction where it’s really up to players to get together and make their own fun, that the solo experience could suffer. If you’re by yourself, it could get extremely repetitive to just drive around and do random challenges. Not everyone is or wants to be social, and this game might end up not being for them. That said, it does kind of come with the territory with the racing genre, and The Crew 2 certainly isn’t masquerading as anything other than a game that begs to be played with friends. Plus the addition of new vehicles should dramatically spice up the variety as well.
There are some issues that I can foresee, but The Crew 2 certainly seems to be on the right path toward redemption.
The Crew 2 will be released on Mar. 18, 2018 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.