Ubisoft’s MMO racer hy­brid The Crew is on the start­ing grid, but is it in pole po­si­tion?

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The United States is a vast and beau­ti­ful land­scape. Break through the perime­ter of one of its many sprawl­ing ci­ties and, de­pend­ing where you are, you can be greeted with sun-bleached deserts, lush Alpine forests or snow-capped hill passes. Amer­ica’s visual va­ri­ety in­vites the urge to travel, to ex­plore, to see ev­ery part of it.

It’s this urge that oc­cu­pies ev­ery space in The Crew, Ubisoft’s new open-world racer. The Crew is the big­gest game of this type ever cre­ated – games like Burnout: Par­adise and 2012’s re­boot of The Need For Speed were open-world rac­ers, but The Crew is a gen­uine Mas­sive Mul­ti­player On­line (MMO) ex­pe­ri­ence.

Its mas­sive map is team­ing with story mis­sions, side quests, dy­namic events and more. It wants play­ers to ex­plore it, so it makes sense to give play­ers the wideopen and di­verse ex­panse of the USA as its start­ing

➜ point. Ac­cord­ing to the game’s cre­ative di­rec­tor, Ju­lian Gerighty, The Crew’s DNA was writ­ten by the de­vel­op­ment staff be­fore they left their last project.

“Ivory Tower was founded by the guys who worked to­gether on Test Drive: Un­lim­ited,” says Gerighty. “The lead on that project, a guy called Stephane Be­ley, has been ob­sessed with the idea of an MMO racer for the last 12 to 15 years. His three pas­sions are cars, MMOs and the chal­lenge of cre­at­ing a shared world be­tween those two spa­ces.”

In-be­tween those spa­ces ex­ists the hook to keep play­ers glued to The Crew. Ivory Tower’s game isn’t just a se­ries of races and chal­lenges; it’s a liv­ing, breath­ing role-play­ing game where the player is re­warded for ev­ery­thing they do, and Gerighty says the aim was to break the back of tra­di­tional rac­ing games.

“We all felt when we were work­ing on The Crew that all rac­ers are capped by a rep­e­ti­tion fac­tor,” he says. “So it was cracking that prob­lem – ‘how can we make some­thing that’s a hub for video game rac­ers for the fu­ture?’ – that led to this game’s cre­ation.”

The Crew is an am­bi­tious project and plants its flag in the ground early; there are races that are over in mere min­utes, but some mis­sions can last up to the bet­ter half of an hour. Ac­cord­ing to the de­vel­op­ers, the long­est mis­sion in the game takes four hours to com­plete. Best to empty your blad­der and turn off your phone be­fore you at­tempt it.

But beyond its mods, its chal­lenges and its mis­sion, the main draw of The Crew re­mains its vast and beau­ti­ful en­vi­ron­ment. Sim­ply driv­ing across the map rolls out a plethora of visual de­lights. Amer­ica awaits you, driver, and you don’t even need to be there to see it. FROM $80,THE­CREW-GAME.UBI.COM, OUT DEC 2 ON XB1,X360, PS4 AND PC


This month… Take a US road trip / De­light your in­ner su­per­hero / A mu­si­cal trib­ute to WW1 / Take a jour­ney into the stars

Rock­star has beefed up the physics of its ve­hi­cles with an en­hanced dam­age sys­tem, and re­turn­ing PS3 or 360 play­ers get rare ver­sions of clas­sic ve­hi­cles, such as the Dodo Sea­plane

Ac­cel­er­ate into The­Crew – the largest open-world racer ever cre­ated

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