When Ubisoft announced The Crew at E3 2013, we were pretty excited by the huge potential it offered. We were also sceptical of the always online requirement of the game. From July 21-25 Ubisoft held a Closed Beta for the game on the PC. iLLGaming’s editors Tathagata and Chirantan took it for a spin. These are their impressions.
The Good Part:
The game world is huge. Even if it is a scaled down version of the United States. The cars are modelled with great detail even showing the internals for the performance upgrade process. The animation and character detailing are top class and the first person driver view is well done. The amount of dashboard detail on display is stunning. The amount of customisation options offered by the game is really overwhelming as it lets you modify every minor detail of your cars. You could spend hours just customising your car just like you would on the character creation screen of a RPG. After all, the cars are the focus of this game. The game has superb draw distance and what seems to be a pretty solid OST.
The Average Part:
The driving feels like a cross between arcade and simulation but leans more towards the arcade part. There wasn’t any drifting or powersliding in the beta. The perspective view on the UI elements like gauges and map doesn’t really look appealing. The story of the game seems to be a familiar hotshot racer getting framed and aided by a female cop to get his revenge tale that reminds one of that great NFS Most Wanted from 2005 while the protagonist seems to be heavily inspired by a certain Dr. Gordon Freeman (*cough* Half-Life 3 confirmed *cough*). The car handling and engine sounds aren’t quite up to notch though different car types do handle differently. The game world seems to be persistent so that even if you restart a race, you are in fact retrying it and the world will not reset to its previous condition. It has an adapted implementation of the Ubisoft open world formula of map revealing towers, minor activities and collectibles that aim to disrupt your pursuit of the main storyline. Destructible objects in the environment don’t seem to have an impact on your car or your speed.
The Bad Part:
The game features some rather rigid objects and is locked at 30 fps on the PC which is a shame. Since the physics are tied to the FPS, speeding things up can cause trouble. The rigidity of the objects also cause your car to bounce strangely off of them and can cause spins that will ruin your driving experience. The game is always online and some missions will require you to co-operate with other players. The controller button placement is quite strange and it’s almost as if the game doesn’t want you to use the e-brake. The GPS implementation is rather horrible given that it appears as a bright blue overhead line in the middle of the road, that’s barely visible in the Driver view. The statistics system is flawed in that while you see your race performance after a race, you have no idea how the score is calculated nor, can you see the score while racing so as to get an idea of how to improve it.
The Ugly Part:
The Game requires UPlay on the PC. This can make your experience quite miserable with random disconnects and failure to log in to the game world. It also doesn’t help that Uplay throttles all your bandwidth to download the game. The always online requirement is rather annoying as is the ‘seamless’ interference of other players. Curiously the Cops in this game are rather dumb, talking about roadblocks when your chase is clearly an off-road thing.
The WTF Part:
You get XP in this game from collectibles and one of those is watching Cutscenes. Yes, Cutscenes! It seems Ivory Tower really wants to show off the effort they’ve invested into making this game. The pedestrians are also capable of some wild almost superheroic jumps to get out of your car’s way and if that fails, they simply ghost right through. The initial introductory sequence has some parts where you can drive right over water, almost as if you’re Jesus!
The Crew is great fun when it works and has the potential to be a really great game. However there are enough negatives hidden behind the hype to make you reconsider playing this game especially with the integration of Uplay. All we’ll say is, It’s a Trap!