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The Crew review: Stellar virtual tourism hidden behind not-so-great racing

Hayden Dingman | Dec. 9, 2014
The Crew is a fantastic tribute to American car culture, but not a fantastic racing game.

Not that you'll get to play with many of the cars. Another problem with The Crew is how slowly it doles out money. I can't decide if this was a decision made because the developers thought it seemed correct, whether it was a decision made by accident, or whether it was a decision made to spur microtransaction purchases. The cynic in me wants to say the latter, but who knows?

Regardless, you get so little money that twenty-five hours in I'm still primarily playing with the same car I bought in the opening section of the game. It's been upgraded a bunch, sure! And I have five different configurations for the car that let it perform better off-road, or perform better on a track!

It's the same car though, because I can't afford anything better after an exorbitant amount of game time, and that takes away a lot of the impetus to run through events.

In a similar vein, Ubisoft flubbed car customization. Throwing a decal on your car can cost $45,000--more than the cost of some cars in the game. No, I'm not joking.

And that's a shame in a game that does online so well. The drop-in-drop-out multiplayer used in Watch Dogs is even better here, with fellow racers appearing in your world when they're a few miles away, allowing you to go meet up with them or not depending on your mood. You can also run 90% of missions as a four-person gang, and some (especially the missions that require you to take down a car) were obviously designed with multiplayer in mind.

I played most of the game solo though, mainly because I'd rather explore as a lone wolf than roll as a convoy or play more races.

Bottom line

Which brings us back full circle--The Crew just isn't a great racing game. The handling is off, the AI is finicky and cheap, and I haven't even mentioned how absolutely aneurysm-inducing the story is. Last night a main character literally said, "I'm 'r0xx0r', but you can call me Roxanne" followed up by, "The name's Roxanne and I'm a digital angel looking for a knight in shining armor."

I love The Crew though, in some way. I love playing virtual tourist, driving around this massive map and occasionally driving around with other players and generally causing mayhem. Have you ever drag-raced from Battery Park to Harlem? Or driven from Seattle to Miami without stopping, just because you could?

Because I have. Sort of. Thanks to The Crew.

 

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