Ubisoft has dramatically improved their quality of games in recent times after being mocked around for their quality control and glitches that infested their games. Most of their recent output has been mostly a solid effort and The Crew 2 is no exception here. It is another by-the-books open world Ubisoft game. It attempts to emulate the same formula as the Forza Horizon series but with a multi-platform approach and bigger scope.
The Crew 2 is the work of Ivory Tower. It attempts to present a living and breathing world with a scaled-back representation of most of the map of the United States of America. It is essentially a huge open world racing game but unfortunately, as the saying goes, bigger doesn’t always necessarily mean better. As a sequel, I was expecting a superior and improved iteration and while a lot of fun elements and new additions are present that make it a better experience, the focus on making it larger has come at a cost of lack of content compared to its predecessor.
The Crew 2 is an open world racing game but the main goal for you is to build up your reputation with a mechanic that requires you to increase popularity by gaining followers. You start with a no-name racer who is hardly popular and have to work your way to the top of this popularity contest. The more you do well in races and win them with a good place, the more followers you gain leading to an improvement in your ranking. This metric was also present in Forza Horizon series and it works out well enough, but it kills the narrative of the game which feels like it was an afterthought to focus on this mechanic. There is no proper story this time around, which was disappointing to me since I had high expectations after the first The Crew.
The first thing that will grab your attention after the opening is how big the world in the game is, and how seamless it feels even if you fast travel. The game presents a world map that shows your location on it and lets you freely zoom in and out of each place on the map. It actually feels pretty incredible in the start as you experience it all in motion. What impressed me most here was not just the scale of the world map but the seamless transition when you make the choice of fast traveling from one point to the next. Load times are nonexistent after the initial intro but if you visit a hub, there is a short loading screen.
You are free to drive around this huge open world but once you have explored most of it, you will realize that it is generally empty with a few events and challenges sprinkled throughout the map. This is a big problem with The Crew 2. You have such a vast open world and with barely anything to do in it. If the aim of the developers was to create the most ambitious and huge open world game, they should have at least tried to fill it with content or other forms of playable events. As it now stands with The Crew 2, the world presented here is lifeless with just pretty scenery and visuals enticing you to explore it.
To best describe The Crew, think of it as an ultimate sandbox playground for a racing game. There are many vehicles that you can control now including motorbikes, boats, airplane, and cars. The controls for each vehicle are unique with their own individual physics that best suit the nature of the game. Most of the vehicles are easy to control aside from the airplanes. They are slightly difficult to master and somehow don’t seem as fun to ride around. The controls for them will take some time to get used to and even then, racing in airplanes remains the least exciting aspect of the game.
There is a reason why I called it the ultimate racing game because it offers you every class of races with four central hubs. You can attempt off-road, street racing, pro racing, and freestyle with the different vehicles variety. As it is a persistent online world, you will be able to run into challenges set by other players and attempt to take them down. These challenges are usually marked on the world map along with the events. As fun as they might sound, it can still end up being an incredibly repetitive experience once you have attempted enough of them.
Even though it is as an online game, most of the time I was just playing it alone. This is not to say that the co-op was bad, I just didn’t feel the need to play it online since there was no incentive to do so. The lack of gameplay modes for the co-op is another reason here that was honestly disappointing since I expected a lot from it. You would expect a game of this caliber to at least have PvP modes but all you can do is ride together or attempt events in co-op. The always-online nature of the game is annoying for those who have a spotty internet connection since you will be immediately kicked out to the main menu screen. The persistent open world aspect is just a marketable illusion unfortunately as most of the time, you will be still roaming around with AI controlled drivers.
The Crew 2 starts with a pleasing opening sequence but once you are given full freedom to explore this open world, and you get to spend a few hours in it, the cracks in the game’s design begin to show and you will soon realize that underneath it all, there is a game that suffers from a case of lack of engaging gameplay and narrative structure. If you like mindlessly driving in an open world, you will feel right at home with The Crew 2. Otherwise, this is not really a game for those who are looking for a solid racing game.
The Crew 2 Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: The Crew 2 is an open world racing video game developed by Ivory Tower and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It is the sequel to 2014's The Crew.
It is slightly disappointing to see how Ubisoft decided to just focus on making a bigger open world game while forgetting the essentials of what makes them so great. The Crew 2 has a lot of potential in the future with free updates and content that might be added to it, but in its current launch state, it is, unfortunately, a shallow experience that doesn't have much to offer for those who are looking for a competent racing game.