The Crew 2 (PC) Review

By Tomas Barry 03.07.2018

Review for The Crew 2 on PC

Late last month, Cubed3 took a preliminary look at The Crew 2, Ivory Tower and Ubisoft's most recent open-world extravaganza, and it was felt that it had the potential to build upon the original, whilst also addressing some of its obvious flaws. The original The Crew launched back in 2014, with a lot of issues. However, to the developer's credit, these were eventually ironed out, for the most part. The team fixed the network issues and added quite a bit of content, whilst also continuing to tweak the balance of things for the better. Ultimately, though, it was a missed opportunity, despite still cultivating quite a dedicated fanbase. Logic dictates, then, having had plenty of breathing space, that The Crew 2 should accomplish a lot more. After all, Ubisoft has so much experience with open-world projects, not to mention the original, plus the rival Forza Horizon series, as reference material. Does it deliver?

Back in 2006, Eden Games released Test Drive Unlimited, the first arcade open-world racer. It wasn't an incredibly deep experience since it was obviously stretching the resources it had at its disposable in a technical sense due to its scale. It was, however, very good fun, and a hugely successful trailblazer, giving rise to the likes of Burnout Paradise, the Forza Horizon series, and, of course, The Crew. Ironically, despite all the successors that have come and gone since in that time, The Crew 2 is still best compared to Test Drive Unlimited in what it gets wrong. That's because it relies on its technical sales-pitch far too much, a massive sprawling open-world, and tons of extravagant real-life machines. Only now it's 2018, and relying on that conceptual thrill alone is like filling up a rocket-ship with apple juice and expecting it to take you to the moon. Just to be clear: The Crew 2 is not an awful game, but it does quickly reveal itself to be a rather empty experience, which ignores major criticism of the original, and the same issues persist.

Screenshot for The Crew 2 on PC

There are numerous problems with this blind faith attitude. For one thing, it's a massive slap in the face for loyal fans, and a very cynical way to coax in newcomers who might have imagined that the second iteration would be a more refined and polished experience. Starting with the location, for reasons unknown, Ivory Tower decided to recycle the same USA setting for its sequel. Only this time it's composed of one region less, and might even be a bit smaller than the original. This seems suspect, especially considering that the existing fanbase won't find traversing the same types of environments as before particularly appealing. While Forza Horizon has gone from Colorado to the French Italian boarder, then Australia and, soon, Britain - Ubisoft has basically said, 'meh, let's just sell the same premise all over again.' There obviously was still a vision of the original that the developer wanted to realise here, but there's no excuse for recycling like this. It points to time constraints and being rushed.

Another thing that hasn't changed is how barren the world feels. Although the cities certainly seem to be livelier in terms and activity, and more padded out with events - players will come across everything it offers far too quickly. The real issue is the endlessly repetitive nature of the challenges, which lack any creativity or spark. More is not always better, and although suddenly transforming into a plane and taking off from a highway is a thrilling distraction for the first few times, once a player gets over that experience, they will be longing for proper content. The appeal of The Crew 2 is its notion of variance and contrast, its long open roads snaking off into the distance, begging to be explored. The reality is, though, that the team doesn't do anywhere near enough with it. It feels like it has expanded the vehicle types in lieu of creating properly engaging events that feel like empty automated patterns. This severely undercuts the implied contrast of having different racing disciplines and other vehicle types, and only further dilutes what was already quite a weak package.

Screenshot for The Crew 2 on PC

It's a similar case with the decision to strip away the story. The original The Crew had a melodramatic narrative that was quite hit or miss. When fans heard Ivory Tower was removing that story-centric emphasis in the sequel, they would be forgiven for assuming this would equate to more effort being put into engineering thoughtful gameplay mechanics and scenarios. That has not turned out to be the case, though. Bizarrely, then, existing fans might even find themselves missing those melodramatics, just because it filled the empty space with a bit of life. The careless lack of attention to the fundamental gameplay experience, in this sense, really does overspill into other facets of the game. The racing families and team-members that you meet that bark encouragement in your ear every twenty seconds, for instance, also fall completely flat. It almost comes off as desperate reinforcement and might as well be saying 'oh we're having lots of fun, aren't we?' It gets really annoying, very quickly, and only underlines how devoid of true intrigue The Crew 2 is.

For these reasons, and many more, detailing the specific motors and vehicle classes feels like a pointless exercise. There needs to be something worthwhile underneath the hood for that to be of real interest. Instead, the cool cars and many recognisable brands are simply the flashy exterior, which might suck a few customers in. Unfortunately, licences and sprawling maps simply aren't enough to rely on alone. The Crew 2 won't hold anyone's attention for very long. Okay, it might be relaxing after a long day to mindlessly drive from one side of the US to the other - it's all there and available from the get-go. Besides that, however, there's just not much of a framework, nor formula to the action. It's decidedly one-note. It's a one-man band performing poorly on four instruments when he might have done okay with one, if he had practised. The kicker, and there is one, is that Ubisoft said this would be a multiplayer-centric experience, yet there's no PvP mode, and all players can really do is ride around together, or do events co-operatively, which removes the challenge altogether since only one of you needs to achieve the objective. It's extremely hard to understand why you can't play this game offline.

Screenshot for The Crew 2 on PC

All in all, it just seems as though the developer forgot there's plenty to compare The Crew 2 with. It has overlooked the mechanical flaws with the original instalment, and the few attempts it has to tweak and change things have ended up worsening the quality of the experience. This is exemplified in things like stripping away a proper story element, but not providing more in-depth and engaging events in its place, and instead implementing more distractions. There's also the fact you can access the whole map immediately, rather than experience some sense of reward by gradually opening portions up, as in the original. On top of that, by making fast-travel instantly accessible, the massive scale of the map could easily be overlooked - although since it's still quite devoid of unique content, perhaps that's for the better. While there is some fun to be had here, players who have experienced Burnout Paradise or the Forza Horizon series will undeniably feel like they are being taken for a ride. Promising more content further down the line, for the second time, is simply not good enough.

Screenshot for The Crew 2 on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

It looked promising, but The Crew 2 falls wide of the mark, in infuriating fashion. It tries to grab people's attention with its technically impressive map, its instant vehicle-switching, and with even flashier motors, yet all of this is just a deluded sales pitch for a seriously lacking package. It doesn't address any of the fundamental flaws of the original, such as repetitive races and too many bland open spaces. The motors from within each vehicle type aren't distinguishable in handling at all, the physics are poor, and the voice acting and music are irritating. There's no sense of achievement from anything, thanks to a poor XP and unlock system. Worse yet, there's no real multiplayer to speak of - posing the question, why on Earth does it require an Internet connection to play? The Crew 2 might seem enjoyable for a couple of hours, but it quickly starts to feel empty. Stick with Forza Horizon.

Developer

Ivory Tower

Publisher

Ubisoft

Genre

Driving

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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