July 10, 2018

The Crew 2 - Review

When The Crew first released, I was excited at the prospect of what it was going to offer, come to today and the game clearly failed to live up to the expectations that the developers had, but does The Crew 2 fix those mistakes, or does it make all new ones?

This time, rather than some convoluted story about being a wronged racer who helps the FBI catch the man responsible for the death of his brother, you are you, someone who loves racing and the best way to race, is to earn followers. There are a host of disciplines that you can take part in, with each offering something that the others don’t, given the number of them though, it might feel overwhelming at times, something I am sure the game does not mean to be. As you earn followers, you will ‘level-up’ to a new rank, which in turn unlocks new disciplines and new evens to participate in, it is a simple system and works well. Earning followers can be done in a few ways, the quickest is taking part in events, netting you a few thousand followers at a time, or you can just drive around like a mad thing, earning followers for near misses, drifts and jumps.

The entire way of earning followers though, feels pointless, yes you can get new events to race in and it also gets you cash, so you can buy new rides, but the overall reason to do it, just feels like a why bother: Just racing around the world will get you followers, so taking part in races seems a bit silly. The other thing that is disappointing is that they are using the same location as the first game, the USA, which might sound cool, but it is not, reusing the same map means all the time I spent playing the first one, has in turn, now made exploring this one absolutely pointless. Yes, events are all over the place now, rather than just in the bigger cities that they were in the first game, but sometimes getting around to them, is not worth the hassle.

That is where the biggest issue of the game comes into play, it is boring, there is no nice way to say it, getting from place to place requires a lot of driving and the location of the USA is not worth exploring, again that might be due to them reusing it from the first game. The game offers you the chance to fast travel around, which is nice, but if you do that, you may as well ask for a list of events and just select them from that, as not driving around to them, also defeats the purpose of the map. While driving you will see other racers on the roads, in the skies or on the water, but you max out at eight people, which in turn means that you will spend the vast amount of time without another player near you. When you race with a friend, the game does feel more alive, but that should be a bonus, not the main way to get something from the game.

Reusing the USA does allow the developer a chance to fix some things from the first game, namely how the cars drive, as in the first game, they were quite floaty, here though, all the cars feel incredible. As you complete events, you will earn parts, which you can use to help tweak your ride, but at anytime you can jump into a pro editor and really get under the hood, something that works a heck of a lot better than the first game. Sadly, while the cars are great, the planes are a mess, trying to flying them requires a lot of practice and patience, which is not necessarily a bad thing, it also means you will be in the sky a lot and once you are in the air, you will notice how boring it is.

Flying around from place to place, is a lot faster than just driving, but as you are in the sky, there is nothing to avoid, proving the point is that one time, I pointed the plane to my destination, was able to turn on the Xbox One, begin a download and then swap back to the PlayStation 4, only to find myself still just chugging along. Using a boat, well that can be great and bad, just depends on what type of water you are on, rivers and smaller lakes are smooth and generally carefree, but larger lakes and open ocean can require more attention, the problem with the boats though, is that you can’t drive across the country in a boat solo, you will always need to swap to another ride for a bit.

Speaking of rides, the game allows you to swap between your favourite car, boat or plane at will, at least once you have unlocked them, so should you find yourself tired of driving, with a press and flick of a stick, you can take to the skies. The system works quite well, you just need to ensure you have enough space around you to allow the swap to happen, it would have been nicer though, to allow you to swap between more than just your favourite of each of the classes, given that you have cars for standard driving, drifting, off-roading and more, having to pause the game, go into the menu and then select the one you want is a flow breaker. The only other thing I can say about the gameplay is how bad the AI is, there are times when I would have a decent lead, only to have the other cars, come flying up behind me, stick with me for a while and then drop back again.

Should I ever be behind them, there would usually be an amount of time where I could not catch up, only to then pass everyone moments later, it is just uneven. The game is not just uneven here, it is the same with vehicles that are on the roads, I have had busses spawn right in front of me, cars and trucks vanish, only to then reappear and then vanish again. The inconsistency means you never really know when something might spawn right in front of you, heck I have seen countless AI cars driving along, like their front wheels are blown and they are grinding, with sparks everywhere, across the road, only to them moments later, just being to drive normally.

Perhaps the games biggest issue is the visuals, if it has four wheels or a propeller than it is going to look ok, everything else, not so much. The game has a lot of pop-in, which to an extent is ok, but not on the sheer scale that the game has here, using photo mode is a mixed bag, as you never know when the game is going to have things loaded right for you to look at or not. Using the maps, you go from a general white map, to a lot of detail, the problem is, each time you zoom in, the game loads the elements in, looking horrid all the while. Speaking of looking horrid, all of the people, except you player character, look frightening, with super clunky animations, poorly built faces and all, the only thing that saves them is that you spend more time driving than interacting with people, so you get to avoid looking at them.

Slowing down is also not a good idea, as much as the game can struggle to load the world while you race, taking a moment to look around is not a good thing either, as the world is bland and I don’t mean that in a nice way. Sure you can hit up Las Vegas at night and it looks alright, but apart from that and New York, the rest of the major cities are shells of what they are, including locations. Smaller country towns are made up of generic buildings, with names and signs proving that. The open spaces are just as bland, sure driving through corn fields is a hoot, but when the corn looks like it was pulled from a PlayStation 2 game, that removes some of the impact.

The worst part though, is just how poorly the studio paid attention to detail, I found lights embedded into concrete barriers, racing flags sunken into the ground, floating bushes and more, there are so many items not connected to the ground correctly, you would think the game has an anti-gravity mode

But as bad as the visuals go, the sounds are even worse, again, anything with an engine sounds great, the kickback sound, when you change gears in some higher end cars, is great and while flying itself might be boring, hearing nothing but engine and wind as you whip through the skies is a blast. The world though, has very little sounds going for it, cities will blare out police or fire sirens, but you never seem them, which is odd, given they were in the first game, the open roads contain nothing to listen too, you will see bears and dears from time to time, but you will never hear them. The games inbuilt radio stations are simply put, horrid, the music selection is shit, beyond it actually and is so bad, that driving around without music was far more preferable than listening to what the game provided. Heck, I went and installed Spotify to the PlayStation so I could listen to some tunes, because driving without music is not fun for long.

The Crew 2 is an odd game, they fixed up a few of the issues people had with the first, namely the driving tightness, but they somehow managed to miss everything else. Flying planes and driving boats is a meh experience at best, the world is not worth exploring if you played the first game and only barely worth it for newcomers. The games complete lack of detail to anything not a vehicle though is where the game falls apart, crappy people models, buggy terrain and item placement, horrid textures and slow loading, all make playing the game more of a chore than it should be and given that the game is boring as a whole, makes playing it utterly pointless.

Review code provided by Ubisoft

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