Last week, I started playing The Crew on Xbox One, thanks to it being free with Games with Gold for the latter half of June. I tried the demo over a year ago, but I wasn’t really sold at the time. I like my driving games, but it’s hard to say what about the game didn’t pull me in. Maybe I started the demo, got distracted and never went back? I can’t recall, but over the last week, I’ve been loving it!
A friend of mine reviewed The Crew: Wild Run for another website, and being a good friend, I read his review to give him support, and because I was curious about this thoughts on the game. He sold it for me, when he said “If you like Test Drive Unlimited, you will surely like this.” That was enough for me. I bought my Xbox 360 with TDU after drooling over multiple trailers and gameplay footage.
The Crew takes place in a condensed version of the United States. In one of the game’s vehicles, it can take you roughly 45 minutes to an hour to travel from one coast to another. LA to New York, Miami to San Francisco. Traveling from city to city is a joy. The roads are littered with challenges such as jumps, slaloms, high speed records to beat, secrets to collect and more. As you approach a well known city, you just feel like you’re actually doing this trip in real life.
Graphically, the game isn’t anything to shout about, but it’s not trying to be a glistening icon. It’s the scope of the game, and the size of the world map. The control scheme for the vehicles isn’t amazing either, but it’s serviceable. I like to race manually, but having to flick the right stick up and down to change gears (with no option to change that) took some getting used to. However, power-sliding around street corners while handbraking, dropping a gear, and putting the foot down has been a joy to experience.
Coming across one of the game’s 240 plus landmarks is great fun too, and a good source of income. It’s also a great learning experience, with a quick fact popping up on screen about the building, park, location or whatever. Finding satellite towers reveals any challenges or collectibles in the area, similar to climbing a tower or building in Far Cry or Assassin’s Creed. It works well in The Crew, and it’s fun to find it all.
Buying cars doesn’t come often, with a lot of grinding involved to rack up the money, but you can upgrade your car’s stats just by winning races and completing challenges with gold, silver or bronze medals. I’m still driving my Shelby Mustang GT 500 since I started the game, and it’s a beaut!
One great feature about The Crew is its focus on online play. As you drive around the mock United States, other players are in your session too. You can do races on your own, or invite up to three other players into your Crew to race together. Of course, only one of you can come first and win the best upgrade available, so it keeps races interesting in that regard.
Exploring together is fun. What The Crew does best, even more than the likes of GTA V I feel, is the scale of the map for cruising. It’s great in Los Santos and Blaine County, but it doesn’t take long to drive up the highways and go full circle back to where you started. With The Crew, there are countless roads and dirt tracks to explore, all taking you to different towns and city, or just beautiful vistas.
I have probably only revealed 10% of the map, if even. The map remains dark grey until you drive into the territory, and green when it is revealed. I’m in no rush to explore it all to 100%, instead focusing on the story missions and working towards buying my second car. Besides, I’m just enjoying the experience of learning about the various landmarks. Yesterday I found the Pentagon in Washington.
Since the release of Wild Run, the off road expansion pack for The Crew, developer Ivory Tower have also updated the game’s visuals to some extent. You can read more about it here. In saying that, I don’t have much to compare it to, other than Youtube comparison videos as I didn’t play the game fully until this month.
At this rate, The Crew is going to keep me going for 10s of more hours, at least. I’m hoping to find more friends online to race and explore with, and I somewhat regret not playing this sooner.