Ubisoft over the years has made a decent reputation within the gaming industry for producing robust tactical action games being Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry and multiple Tom Clancy’s titles. However, it seems that when they try to implicate their talents to make a driving game, the results seem to fall flat a little. From their previous releases, on average they fall to second place in comparison to their rivals. Example being Driver: Parallel Lines fell short behind of being a Grand Theft Auto competitor. That alone is enough to be a small problem, but, similar to the last Need for Speed (Rivals), we are hitting a transitional period where we are slowly integrating into the newer consoles. The Crew suffers the same issue; lots to offer, good visuals, but too many holes spoil our belief system.
You are in the shoes of Alex Taylor, voiced by the ever so popular Troy Baker. After a deal goes wrong thanks to the game’s antagonist “Shiv”, you are framed for your brother’s murder by a dirty cop and go on an automotive revenge quest to get even. Like the title says, you form a crew of ex-team member’s plus helpful newcomers who you prove your worth to (naturally) before joining.
From the beginning to end, your missions will consist of driving to locations, racing and… driving some more. It becomes unnecessarily obtuse when you go to a location to collect a character, drive to another place and realize you are on a time limit. Granted there are missions where to prove you can drive well, but for a mere ‘collect and commute’ job it seems unneeded to put in a timer, you leave the gas on Alex?
There are hundreds of challenges that span all over the map, which is huge, its no exaggeration that it will take you awhile to get across. These challenges revolve around slaloming between posts, jump ramps, tarmac distance traps etc. To put to perspective, I played through the story plus the occasional challenge just to boost my ranking. I was shocked to find when I looked at my completion progress I wasn’t even in the double digits. The driving physics were ok but it didn’t seem to have a sense of technical realism when on the road. It seriously reminded me over and over of Test Drive Unlimited 2 from 2011. You are in a car that can drive nearly anywhere, you find car wrecks to build unique cars, the artificial feel of driving, the huge locations…it’s all too much the same. Ubisoft also released it for Xbox360, which I think was a grave mistake. The game is too large for even the 360 to handle, graphics overall match the quality to early 360 game.
However, while I seem to slack the game’s functionality and performance, I will praise the game’s use of personalization to the car’s available. Having specific kits slammed onto your car is satisfying plus with many car stickers to choose. I am talking body stickers that look authentic, not just some plain smiley face sticker. Some of us that are into this know about bodykits for the tuning world, but its not everyday you see a Nissan Skyline built like its ready for the Dakar Rally. Some may disagree with this, but the map size is good. I personally like the idea of driving miles and miles getting somewhere, especially with some good custom driving tunes. I even deliberately missed some fast travel options because of this. I wanted to see for myself the landscape presented around me. Also I like the idea that you are not forced to empty your wallet on a hypercar for the final stages of the game just because it’s needed. I picked a Nissan 370z and it lasted me all through the end on all types of races: on and off road.
The game’s sound unfortunately is an area I have to pump some negative drivel into the mix. Let me paint a picture for you: You get your wheels (lets make it a muscle car), you see a NOS canister and a full bar meter next to it. Most often or not, the typical driver would have watched The Fast and Furious at least once in their lives and have seen what that looks like. So you brace yourself, push the button and…. no that’s not your outside window blowing wind, that is the game’s ‘boost’. The game does a good job at making the NOS SFX as unimportant as making sure Alex doesn’t have one too many hairs on his beard. I got the feeling as well that Ubisoft made the car noises from a specifically designed synthesizer in a music shop. The reving the cars makes just doesn’t sound very real, if anything it sounds like it’s all computerized just like the driving physics. The music doesn’t really make an impact either, however the orchestral score for timed missions isn’t too bad, adding a few sparks of mild excitement. Many driving games can’t really get the music right and The Crew is no exception. It’s understandable if the tracks are in with the times of popular chart songs, but these songs can’t decide to be pop songs or exhilarating race songs. Result is a mix mash cluster muddle of songs that resulted in me unfortunately turning over to my USB stick.