THE CREW 2
Developer Ivory Tower Publisher Ubisoft Format PC, PS4, Xbox One Release 2018
An Ubisoft driving game was the last place we expected to see an Inception reference, but here we all are. We’re playing the opening mission of The Crew 2, and the Christopher Nolan nod is intended to add a little dramatic spectacle to developer Ivory Tower’s grand plan for its open-world sequel: realtime vehicle switching. Using a radial menu and the right analogue stick, you can move in a flash from the driver’s seat of a sports car to the cockpit of a light aircraft, and from there to the helm of a sprint boat, then back and forth as you see fit. The reins are a little tighter in this scripted opening mission, however: all the better, it turns out, to bend the scenery about every time you switch.
Out on the open road, the transitions are a little less flashy – which is probably for the best, since seeing the sky crease in two after we moved to the plane had our stomach doing a few barrel rolls of its own. When you’re in control of the switch, it’s not jarring at all, and the ease of doing it, and the speed at which it happens, make it an easy idea to fall in love with. There are limitations, sure; you can’t turn from a car into a boat while you’re driving around a city centre, because that would be pointless, and you can’t do the reverse when out on the water, because you would die. The plane is the only constant, and serves as a bridging device between the other two modes of transport – albeit one that lets you cartwheel through the sky from New York to Los Angeles like a sprawling, open-world Pilotwings.
Sea travel is a delight, too. You can lean your craft backwards a little to increase its speed at the cost of a little mobility, and you’ll certainly want to get out in front, since boats leave wakes that make life difficult for any competitors following your racing line too closely. That said, zig-zagging back and forth over a race leader’s wake provides a fuzzy, Wave Race- like feeling, and there’s always the nitro button if you fall too far behind. It’s quite the tonal shift from The
Crew, which undermined the obvious potential of its free-wheeling premise with a dark and moody tale of a driver working undercover for the FBI to avenge the murder of his brother. Its structure was a mess, too: a game that promises to give you the freedom of the entire US has no business spending its opening hours confining you to, of all places, Detroit. That lesson has been learned, at least. This time, the entire country is yours from the word go. Providing Ivory Tower has also learned from its narrative mistakes, The Crew 2 could be a muchneeded dose of levity after the strait-laced fidelity of Forza 7 and co.
You can move in a flash from the driver’s seat of a sports car to the cockpit of a light aircraft