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The Crew review - Hands On - we play the MMO arcade racer

Seth Barton
11 Jun 2014
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We get to race across America in this expansive racer

The Crew is unashamedly an arcade-style racer, or rather it's every arcade racer you've ever played rolled into one big game. It's not hugely dissimilar to Project Gotham, with its real cars and street-based courses, it has a huge open world a bit like Burnout Paradise, there's off-road action akin to Sega Rally and sometimes you have to smash a car to a halt, so come on in Chase HQ. On top of all this the game is an MMO, where you can compete against innumerable other players across numerous challenges.

COAST TO COAST

The Crew is set in the United States of America, all of it. It's not a precise recreation of this sprawling country, after all who would want to drive through the suburbs of LA for three hours; instead it's scaled down representation with all the dull bits taken out. it would take about one and-a-half hours to drive across the whole country east-to-west, if you took the most direct route. So it's pretty big.

Driving coast-to-coast in this timelapse video

All the major landmarks are still present, so you can visit the Grand Canyon or Yosemite, there's snow in the north and deserts in the south, and pretty much every major city has been included too with their most famous roads recreated for your racing pleasure.

The game looks pretty smart, though it's certainly no Forza 5 in terms of car details or trackside beauty. But then in Forza you can't simply turn the wheel and head off-road, cross country through the fields and streams.

The Crew

IT'S THE CAR-VATAR

While Forza has your driver as your avatar, in The Crew your avatar is the car itself. It's the car that level up, lavish with attention and upgrade. Each car is made up of 20 elements, 11 of which are technical, such as the wheels, engine and gearbox, while the other nine are purely decorative - spoilers, decals, hubcaps etc.

Each of the cars, we don't know how many vehicles there will be yet, comes in five different flavours or specs, broad modifications for certain uses. The Stock spec is the standard manufacturers car, then there's the all-rounder Street Spec for races with lots of tight turns and a bit of rough and tumble with others, the Perf Spec and Circuit Spec are both faster than that but harder to handle, while the Dirt Spec and Raid Spec are light and heavy offroad modifications.

The Crew

You can use any type of car in any race or challenge, but picking the right one is fairly key to success. However, you upgrade your various cars separately, so you might have a highly-upgraded Ford Perf Spec and a Nissan Raid Spec, and your other cars are fairly basic or stock. So if a challenge look to be best suited to a Dirt Spec, you'd have to make a decision between the faster Perf or the heavy Raid.

ON A MISSION FROM GOD

There are loads of missions you can undertake in your motor. Skill Challenges are quick to replay and include the likes of Slalom gates, Speed Runs to try and max out your speedo and point-to-point off road Scambles. Do well and you get money, parts and XP to upgrade your car, or buy a new one, but you can always go back and try and do better to get more. There's asynchronous multi--player here, with ghost cars to compete against.

The Crew

The real meat of the game though is in playing with others. You join a crew of racers, and you can then race against other crews, with the winner being decided by a points system with more points for higher places - so having your top man come first isn't enough to win necessarily if the rest your crew place poorly.

There's also co-op challenges, such as chasing down a fleeing vehicle in a pack. Here you can work together to cut off his escape routes by sending cars to box the fleeing car in. Or you can have a classic all-vs-all race with up to 8 players at once.

CREW CUT

The Crew could be called World of Cars, it's a driving game for those who want a big, lengthy challenge with lots of opportunities for social interaction and competition. It's not the slickest driving game, or the most realistic, but it was fun to play and that counts for a lot.

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