Racing games have always been an enjoyable game type, whether it be for quick, random bursts or for an extended session. Following on the success of The Crew, Ubisoft has released The Crew 2 with more race types and even more vehicles to use on your way to the top.
The Crew 2 is certainly a jump ahead of the original title and if you have not played the predecessor, it is a racing game that goes beyond just cars. The large selection of vehicle types includes Motocross Bikes, Monster Trucks, Jet Sprint & Power Boats, Aerobatic & Air Race Planes on top of Touring Car, Street Race, Drift, Drag, Hyper Car and Alpha GP. This guarantees a lot of gameplay and that is just in the events.
As with many other racing games, your goal is to work your way to the top and become champion of each discipline. The first game also used this base and had cutscenes giving a story for your character. Aside from the intro and some comments before certain events, The Crew 2 sadly does not.
Story aside, controlling each of the vehicles is quite good. Some take a little longer to get used to but once you have a few events behind you, they get familiar. This is especially relevant to smaller vehicles like the Motocross bikes and the Jet Sprint boats as they are much more loose and a slight deviation from your direction can lead to a race-losing incident.
If you decide to take a break from the events, there are a large assortment of skill challenges located around the map as well as location-based tasks. Skill challenges can include completing goals to gain more supporters and as simple as beating another avatar’s speed trap record or drifting length among many others. Location-based tasks are a nice way to slow things down and take in the scenery. You may need to take an aerial photograph of a racetrack or landmark, even locating a nearby animal to capture photographically.
All in all, there is a lot to achieve outside of the races. Of course, you can also decide to take a drive around the map if you wish, alone or with friends. This actually is where I have an issue with The Crew 2, there didn’t appear to be much incentive for me to do this. Given that after each event has been completed, you can instantly jump to the map screen, locate another event and Fast-Travel there. You do have an option to drop a pin and drive there yourself, but I kept asking myself, “What for? Is there any advantage?” and the answer is no. I realise that you can complete the extra tasks along the way and this may be fun in a multiplayer environment, but I played this alone and it simply held no appeal to me, and that is disappointing.
I think it may have been better to make the players travel across the country in order to unlock a new selection of races. In fact, from memory, I believe that was part of the first game. Another feature to the game also added to this. At any time during Free Roam mode, you can instantly jump from your selected favourite vehicle to another. For example, you can drive down a road and instantly change your car to a plane and fly around, then when you are over water, instantly change to a boat and blast through some waves. Now, this is great for a bit of fun here and there, but again, where’s the incentive to race through winding roads when, with the press of a button and a controller movement, you can be soaring over the trees and get there faster and easier? It just shows that adding complexity and more variety can mean you sacrifice the simplicity and heart to a racing game.
Audio & Visuals
The Crew 2, although a very similar map to its predecessor, looks very good. When you take a moment to stop and take a picture, you do notice a lot more than you would in a race and it is impressive. The vehicles look great and most handle well enough, aside from the smaller ones which felt almost too loose as mentioned earlier. The characters are not so great, aside from the cutscenes where NPC’s are moving around and interacting, the same cannot be said during gameplay. The main character I chose looked unfinished. The eyes were distractingly low quality and he did not emote, quite often just motionless. More can be said for the NPC’s at the HQ locations where you cannot interact with anyone and single locations had multiple duplicate characters.
Some of the music was not to my taste but others were fun, so I think The Crew 2 has a decent assortment that can cater to a large audience. The studio obviously saved some dollars with voice acting as most is not character acted anyway. The vehicle sounds were quite well done, and each model sounded unique enough for the game.
The Crew 2 removed a lot of what I really liked in its predecessor. For me, that was very disappointing as I was looking for more of what I liked. I can understand trying something different, so your game stands out in the crowd of racing games and sure, there is more vehicle types and races, but I think it is too complex now. Too much variety can kill the soul of a racing game apparently.