With the release of Ubisoft’s The Crew, we finally have this year’s full slate of arcade racers out on the market. Each of them offers something very different. So the question is, which one is for you and can The Crew fulfill your racing itch?

Right off the bat I was a little worried because my game froze a couple of times on the initial loading screen. Fortunately, I haven’t encountered this issue again since that first boot up.

The story starts off with our main character, Alex Taylor, escaping the cops and picking up a new ride for himself. He’s told to go pick up his brother, who happens to be the leader (or V8) of the 5-10 gang. Alex and his brother go on an errand to meet someone. Once they arrive, Alex’s brother is gunned down and the cops immediately race in and arrest Alex for the murder. Alex gets released from prison and is approached by an FBI agent who wants to take down the dirty agent that arrested Alex and Shiv, the guy who gunned down Alex’s brother. Of course Alex hops on at the chance to avenge his brother’s murder.

You start off in Detroit and work your way through the Midwest with events in Detroit, St. Louis and Chicago with the Street Spec kit. You begin working your way up the 5-10 ladder so you can get a shot at Shiv and Coburn, the dirty FBI agent. You start working with Troy in the Midwest before he asks you to murder a fellow 5-10 member. You try to get the girl out in protective custody, but Troy finds out that she’s still alive and kills her and tries to kill you. After that you team up with another 5-10 member and work your way through the Midwest and then onto the East Coast where you unlock the Dirt Spec kit. I don’t want to spoil anymore story for people are reading that potentially want the game, but you continually meet new people who join your crew to take down Shiv and Coburn as you work your way from the East Coast to The South, Mountain States and then finally to the West Coast.

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Getting my Dirt Spec GT-R a little muddy

The story isn’t the greatest thing you’re going to come across. It’s no The Last of Us, that’s for sure. However, if you’ve played these story-driven tuner arcade racers before, it’s right on par with those. It does its job to move the racing along and Troy Baker does a fine job as Alex Taylor.

Alright, let’s get to the cars. I’m a car lover, so I’m always looking into what cars and what kind of customization is available in racing games. I voiced my concern in my beta impressions piece about the available cars at the beginning of the game and how they weren’t varied enough. You can choose between a ’10 Chevrolet Camaro, ’11 Ford Mustang GT, ’12 Dodge Challenger SRT and a ’13 Nissan 370Z. So it’s three muscle cars and a Japanese tuner. Where’s the European love?! Just kidding. Well, kind of. The car customization is pretty good for the most part. Just from a cosmetic standpoint, there are a lot of pieces to make your car very unique and different from everyone else’s that you come across during your time in the game. From paints to vinyls, bumpers, wheels, hoods, wings, fenders; it’s all there.

I enjoyed the performance upgrade twist. Instead of just waiting to be able to afford an upgrade or waiting for a certain level, you had to go out there and earn them. Either by completing missions or doing challenges, you can earn certain upgrades depending on how well you do in said missions and challenges. Once you’ve earned them, you can equip them to your car and they are then available for purchase for your other cars. Overall, the car selection is decent. There are a wide variety of old and new muscle cars as well as some Japanese tuners and various European types. Each time you unlock a new dealership in a new region, more cars are available to purchase.

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My Street Spec Nissan Skyline GT-R R34

As far as the physics go, there’s nothing wrong with them in this game. It’s what you’d expect out of your typical arcade racer. They aren’t the best I’ve experienced, as the physics in Forza Horizon 2 are just far and away the best I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in this game-type.

One of the major draws about this game was how large the world is. It’s a recreation of the entire continental United States. I’ll state this right away: I love this map. It’s enormous and there are so many different types of terrain and cities, you’re always coming across different things. A couple of my favorite areas include the swamp lands around New Orleans in The South region and the snowy mountain passes up in the northern areas of the Mountain States region. Of course the game had to take some liberties in their recreation of the country. Major cities are going to be a lot smaller then they would otherwise be in a game that only has one major city and some places are left off completely just because there’s no place to fit it in on the map. One of my absolute favorite parts about the game is the hidden rundown cars that are all over the map. There are 20 of them throughout each region, and if you find all 20 in a certain region, you unlock a secret car. Usually when games have collectibles, they are completely pointless when it comes to the game itself. But this gives you something that is actually useful in the game. Overall, though, the map is very well created and there’s always something to do and somewhere to explore.

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One of the rundown cars to find in the open world

Let’s dive into the events throughout the game. There are numerous mission types and multiple ways to race them with the different spec kits. The most common ones are your straightforward street races against other competitors and your time trials where you need to get through checkpoints or to the end in a certain amount of time. One interesting mission type that I rather liked has you chasing someone else trying to take them out. You have to deal a certain amount of damage to their car before the timer runs out. A mission type that I thought was kind of useless and not too fun was destroying package drops. You had to destroy 80 out of 100 packages in a certain area before the timer ran it. They weren’t overly difficult, but I just didn’t have any fun doing them. Now, there is one mission type that I really found overly frustrating and just not well designed, and that was escaping the cops. The way the cops drive, how fast they can catch back up, the fact that the terrain doesn’t affect their cars… It was just hair-pulling at times. I understand that this is an arcade racer, but a cop car should not be driving at you head-on. That’s just silly. Even when you’d lose them, they could catch right back up in the blink of an eye and that got really frustrating when you’d be off-road in a specialized car, and their Ford Crown Victorias had no problem with the terrain. However, the most frustrating part about the cop chases is the captures happened way too fast. You could still be moving after they hit you and even have a way out, and they’d still capture you. It also didn’t help that the cop cars acted like magnets once one had you blocked in. The best thing about unlocking new spec kits was that these game types saw face lifts throughout the game. Going from street races with Street Spec and Perf Spec to crazy off road races in the Dirt Spec and Raid Spec and finally getting to experience real race tracks like Long Beach Street Circuit with the Circuit Spec.

As for side missions, they can get pretty creative and fun with those. A couple of my favorites included a coast-to-coast race that starts in Los Angeles and another race that circles the entire country that begins in the northern area of the Mountain States region. I was very glad to see events like that implemented, because, what’s the point in having an entire country if you’re not going to race from one end to the other. PVP events were fun, but I felt like it took a little too long to get them going. I’d be sitting in a lobby for a good few minutes at least before they got started. However, once we were all in, it was a blast.

PVP leads me to my next topic, which was how the game was as an MMO. The entire country in The Crew doesn’t actually get populated for you, only a large area around where you are. There are enough people around for you to feel not alone and you’ll always be running into someone to do a mission with or to do PVP with.

Graphics is an area where this game lacks a punch. I’ll be blunt; the game looks like something from last generation on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. That said, with a game this massive, I’m not too surprised by that. But don’t go in expecting graphics on the same level as something like Forza Horizon 2. The cutscenes look fantastic, but that all goes away once you’re back in gameplay.

Before I get to my conclusion, I’d like to quickly cover the microtransactions in this game. Are they there? Absolutely. But is this game made so that it’s pay-to-win? Not in the slightest. The credits are there to purchase and you can use them to buy new cars are buy cosmetic parts for you cars. However, you don’t need that stuff to compete in this game. All of performance upgrades you can get, you have to acquire them through completing missions and challenges, so it’s not like you can just pay $10 and have some untouchable car before you’ve earned your parts through playing the game.

Overall, The Crew is a satisfying experience for those of us who sorely miss those tuner-style arcade racers. The map is the biggest bright spot and the amount of cars, customizations and differing types of events keep the game from going stale too quickly. The game falters on police chase missions as they become quite frustrating and the graphics look like something you’d get from a last-gen game.

The Crew Review
The Crew offers a decent experience for those that miss the tuner-style arcade racers. The game has its shares of ups and downs and the bright spots outweigh the sour ones.
Positives
  • Enormous map
  • Car customization
  • Numerous race types
Negatives
  • Sub-par graphics
  • Overly frustrating police chases
7.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (14 Votes)
9.3

About The Author

Kyle K
Staff Writer

Kyle has been a gamer for most of his life. He's a public relations graduate and a well-rounded console and PC gamer who will play just about anything. Also, he secretly wishes he was Nathan Drake.

  • I imagine there was a trade off in graphics for the huge map and that’s fine with me, nice review Kyle 🙂