Hands-On Preview: The Crew
Ubisoft had their upcoming racer, The Crew, on full display at PAX East this year. I remember going to Ubisoft’s booth back at E3 because I wanted to check this game out but it was only being displayed on a giant screen. I like racing games and the prospect of one that allows you to race from one end of the United States to the other intrigued me. I was bummed to not be able to play it then, so you can imagine how happy (and surprised) I was to finally be able to try it out.
I played a portion of the game, which let me race around in a big field where I had to reach goal markers in a specific amount of time. I got to drive a big pick up truck that was built for off road racing. Reaching the goals was relatively easy since I used boost liberally and didn’t stick to the main roads.
The other mode I played had me and another player trying to take down an A.I. opponent in a certain amount of time. He had a health bar which could be depleted by smashing into him. The A.I. was pretty damn fast and I’m ashamed to admit that we weren’t able to defeat it. We almost got him but not in time.
I can only speak on this specific mode and the vehicle I drove but I was pleased by both. Even though the pick up truck was a bit unwieldy, it still controlled well. The game is set to have a wide variety of vehicles in it; this was just one of many and it handled well. There will also be many other modes available in the full game.
Graphically speaking, the game was definitely on the eye pleasing end of the scale. I only saw a small bit of the game but I sure did like the lighting. The sunlight bounced off the tall wheat fields and shined through gaps in the trees. This is a next-gen game and it shows.
I talked to one of the developers while I played the game and some afterwards and asked him a few questions. He told me that The Crew is a Racing MMORPG. Like an RPG, you gain experience, although I wasn’t told what that would be used for. Getting bronze, silver and gold at the end of races gives you different car parts so there’s an the incentive to play and replay missions in order to unlock more items. The MMO aspect comes from the online component. This is an open world racer and every racer you meet is an actual person.
Speaking of community, the game is being influenced by the fans and the developers have been listening carefully to what they want in the game. There will be a lot of post game add-on content and all of it will be based off what the community is demanding.
The biggest question I had about the game was whether or not it was a one to one representation of the United States. I mean, saying that you can race from Los Angeles to New York in a game raises eyebrows so I had to see how they pulled it off. Not surprising, but it is not a full on recreation of the U.S. You can consider this a truncated continent but all of them main parts of the U.S and most of its major topographical diversity will be in the game. While you may not be able to visit your home, you will recognize places from the main cities.
I also asked why the game was only on current-gen consoles and got a pretty interesting answer. I was told that originally this game was planned to be released on last-gen consoles as well but that they would have had to sacrifice the graphics. On current gen they were able to bring their full vision of the game to life.
Right now the only major distinctive feature of this game is its huge world. Other than that, it seems to be a standard racer. This is only my opinion at this point but even if there isn’t a whole lot here that’s insanely impressive, it still looks like it will be a fun title for racing game fans. The Crew does have the potential to be this generation’s big community based racer so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see when it’s released.