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

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