Ubisoft has just released The Crew 2, the sequel to their 2014 racer that received a number of addons including Calling all Units and Wild Run. Out now for Xbox One, PS4 and PC, we played it on PC for this review.
The Crew 2 picks up more or less where The Crew left off, at least in terms of diversity. With the addition of several DLC packs, racing in The Crew became much diverse due to a wider selection of vehicles – and the sequel takes this as a starting point. There are several other new elements as well, though most have been seen elsewhere.
In the game’s campaign mode, which is partly story-driven, you get to play through a young racer’s career as you race a wide range of vehicles in events all over the (open world) game environment. You’re not restricted to just cars either, as you also get to race motorcycles and even airplanes. It’s a little like The Fast and the Furious meets XxX, as you even get to switch vehicles dynamically – though The Crew 2 has a lot less in the way of cinematic flair. If that’s what you’re looking for, then Need for Speed Payback is a superior choice.
What propels you forward is gaining followers (by being successful) and upgrading your vehicles to meet certain levels that allow you to access new races. The followers aspect is something that immediately reminded me of games like Blur and the Need for Speed series. I believe they were just called “fans” back then, but in 2018 I suppose it’s all about followers instead.
This ties into the game’s story mode, which revolves around a broadcast service called Live that organizes all of these racing events. Winning events also gives you access to new stuff, as everything that’s a top three finish or better gets to loot boxes. With these, you can upgrade your vehicles which in turn gets you a higher power level and thus access to more events. You can also purchase credits using real world money, though I imagine this will rub a few people the wrong way. Luckily, the game’s perfectly playable without resorting to extra spending.
If you enjoy diversity in your racing, then The Crew 2 has you covered. The campaign pretty much forces you to engage in a high variety of events using many different types of vehicles. There’s an arcade flavor to the action, but vehicles still handle vastly different from one another. I’m not just referring to the obvious difference between a plane and an automobile here either – a plane that was built for speed doesn’t handle like one built for maneuverability, and cars can be built for drifting or off-road action as well.
The Crew 2 performs very well on a technical level, with smooth gameplay and solid frame rates throughout. Part of that feels like it was achieved by cutting a few corners though, as the scenery generally isn’t that attractive to look at and we’ve seen better visuals in the recent Need for Speed titles as well. The damage model also isn’t particularly elaborate (and that’s an understatement), which is surprising considering the TV show format of the game. Lastly, the open world environment doesn’t feel particularly vibrant or alive either – and I didn’t see a menu option to change this either, so it doesn’t matter if you have a beefy PC to play on.
The solid performance in the game also translates well to multiplayer, which is fun to play and where most of the game’s long-term appeal probably lies. The campaign and solo gameplay themselves, although solid and diverse, are somewhat generic – and you’ll at some point develop a preference for some race types over others, making a return to the campaign (from scratch) unlikely. This makes The Crew 2 a solid racer and decent sequel to fans of the first one, but a game without a real hook to draw new gamers in. Perhaps future DLC will surprise us though – the first game got better because of it as well.